September 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Special Report: A wide world of web opportunity

(Page 3 of 3)

"Identifying the local payment options with the greatest penetration by country and offering those that shoppers are most likely to use, in addition to credit cards, will help boost transaction volume, because local payment options expand the base of customers with which retailers can do business," Turnbull says. "Retailers don't have to offer every local payment option, just the ones that are most commonly used."

In addition to providing shopping cart solutions and shipping services to international e-retailers, Bongo services more than 3,000 retailers with a support team spanning three continents and that speaks 12 languages.

Shipping challenges

Once an order is placed, retailers want to ship the item to the customer as quickly and cost efficiently as possible. To hold down shipping costs, it is recommended that retailers ship items in bulk to a specific country and reduce the dimensional weight of their packages as much as possible.

Dimensional weight is calculated by dividing a package's cubic volume by a number set by the carrier. Carriers charge by dimensional weight because large boxes fill up their vehicles and containers more quickly than smaller ones, which increases their costs. Using excess packaging material, which adds to unused space in a package, is one of the biggest culprits for retailers getting hit with dimensional weight charges.

A retailer can also save by shipping many packages at once. "Shipping in bulk on a daily basis versus one package at a time is much cheaper on a per-package basis and can produce significant overall cost savings on shipping fees," says BorderJump's Frank. "It's also in a retailer's best interest to package an item as efficiently as possible to reduce the package's dimensional weight."

BorderJump operates package consolidation hubs in Newark, N.J., and Miami where retailers send their international orders for bundling and final preparation for delivery to the customer.

It is also recommended that retailers do not offer express shipping on international orders to further hold down shipping costs. "Express shipping is a very expensive option that cuts deeply into margins," says Hermes Europe's Bense.

By paying attention to such key international sales practices as language translation, local brand-building strategies to supplement online marketing initiatives, and offering local payment options and localized product selection, retailers of all sizes can successfully sell to the more than 95% of the world's population that resides outside the United States.

"As global expansion becomes a priority for retailers," Frank says, "those that offer seamless end-to-end shopping experience and delivery will be the most successful."

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