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Developing an Effective Ecommerce Shipping Strategy

By: Ted Rogers
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Look around and, virtually everywhere, there’s rapid ecommerce growth. Between 2022 and 2025, ecommerce sales are predicted to rise by 15% in China, 47% in Europe, 50% in the US, and 52% across the rest of the world.[1]

For businesses trying to take advantage of the rise of global ecommerce, developing a cross-border ecommerce shipping strategy is crucial to expand their reach and tap into burgeoning international markets.

Sending your goods around the globe and across borders is no simple job. With the help of this quick primer, however, you can develop a strategy that supports your overall ecommerce goals.

Understanding the Importance of a Cross-Border Ecommerce Shipping Strategy

Although consumers and brands have been connected across much of the globe for some time now, there’s no escaping the rapid acceleration of global ecommerce we’ve seen in recent years. Thanks to increased connectivity, improved experiences, and rising demand, there’s a world of opportunity out there for today’s businesses to seize.

As cross-border ecommerce has become the norm, brands who have acted fast have been able to enjoy a range of benefits—from increased revenue and resilience to expanded audiences and new competitive advantages.

Yet for all the chances to bolster growth, businesses also must navigate no shortage of new risks and costs to get their products in the hands of international customers. Each new country or geography means new customs regulations, tariffs, and shipping requirements. Importantly, it also means different customer expectations. And if you can’t meet those expectations and navigate cross-border compliance while keeping costs down and maintaining your margin, the allure of expanding internationally will soon be looking a little lackluster.

Key Elements of a Cross-Border Shipping Strategy

So, where do you start with ecommerce shipping? Follow these steps toward a more strategic approach.

Create Alignment Across Teams

Although it can seem like a purely logistical function of the business, there’s much more to shipping than that. Any successful ecommerce shipping strategy should recognize shipping’s relevance across internal segments of the business.

Of course, fulfilment teams and business leadership are responsible for developing and overseeing (or successfully outsourcing) shipping and delivery infrastructure. But so too must marketers, developers, and other stakeholders be aware of shipping’s importance to the front-end of the ecommerce experience.

Calculate Rates Accurately and Upfront

The importance of this alignment can be seen when we look at the cost of ecommerce shipping and how it’s communicated to customers.

Delivering a great customer experience through receipt of goods is very important. In some cases, shoppers receiving a package may be caught off-guard by additional fees to cover duties or fees associated with importing the package through customs. These surprise costs add up to a poor experience that will hurt a brand’s reputation and their shot at customer retention. To avoid this scenario, all costs should be calculated upfront and transparently shared with the customer as part of their total purchase amount to receive the product at their door.

Understand International Shipping Regulations

Each country has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to importing and exporting goods. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure smooth and compliant shipping processes.

Alternatively, partnering with a reliable logistics provider who has expertise in international shipping can provide assistance in navigating the complexities of these customs and regulatory requirements. Moreover, choosing to partner with a merchant of record can actually take the burden of tax, compliance, and risk-related manners entirely off your business’s plate, letting you focus on the hard work of growing sales.

Choose the Right Shipping Carrier(s)

Opting for the right shipping carrier is vital for delivering a seamless cross-border shipping experience at the right rates. Consider factors such as reliability, cost-effectiveness, speed of delivery, customer service, and tracking capabilities when selecting a carrier.

While existing, loyal relationships may bring desirable freight rates in some areas, certain carriers have limited reach. For businesses looking to go global, this can lead to either slow delivery times or expensive costs in certain markets. For this reason, it’s ideal to work with a partner that can plug you into an extensive, multi-carrier network. The added flexibility can go a long way toward keeping favorable supply chain relationships in place, minimizing costs, and supporting your growth around the globe.