As more shoppers across the world make online purchases from companies stationed in other countries, logistics can get complicated. E-tailers play a major role in cross-border commerce, and third-party logistics providers help those businesses reach their consumer base. Global trade online is worth over $1 trillion USD, while cross-border e-commerce makes up about 21 percent of that, according to eMerchantPay. That means there is real monetary incentive for e-commerce players to make the process as simple as possible for their customers – and guarantee their business retains a piece of that pie.
Still, e-businesses must provide satisfactory service and delivery to their customers abroad or risk damaging their reputation and losing revenue. Given the complexities of international commerce, it is important for any e-tailer to partner with a logistics provider that has the experience, network and software capabilities to keep up with international demand. That way, e-tailers can meet customers’ needs and avoid falling into many habits that frustrate international shoppers. Most frustrations international buyers encounter have to do with shipments, hidden fees and poor customer service contacts. Make sure you consider seriously the following five topics:
- Make sure your shipments are on time
This is an item that applies to any company that delivers goods both domestically and internationally, but untimely delivery tends to be a bigger problem in cross-border shipping due to the distance packages travel and the obstacles they encounter. Obviously, the best way to mitigate this frustration is by delivering items when expected, which is made easier with a logistics service provider that is carrier-neutral.
- Offer a variety on delivery options
Cross-border commerce is full of nuance. Some consumer groups prefer to have items shipped to their front doors, while in another country, customers would rather pick up packages at agreed-upon locations. E-tailers should be able to offer the pick-up or delivery options their customers desire.
- Avoid hidden fees
When e-tailers retroactively apply cross-border fees, excise taxes and other expenses to a shipment, the customer may be left footing the bill at the time of delivery. That’s a surefire way to anger a buyer when there is an easy alternative: transparency. Put all those fees up front and let your logistics partner provide an accurate quote.
- Simplify your return process
When e-tailers are unwilling to provide a simple returns solution, they may think they’re doing themselves a favor – after all, only unhappy customers return products, right? But by making the returns process complicated, these businesses dissuade buyers from making purchases in the future. On the other hand, streamlining the returns process makes it easier for shoppers to return items, but it also makes it more likely they will remain loyal to the brand.
- Make sure your customer service is outstanding
Doing business over borders, time zones and language barriers makes it even more of a challenge to provide agile and responsive customer service. Still, that is an area that e-tailers must be able to excel, especially if they want to compete with local brands that know the consumer base a little better. Fortunately, the best logistics providers do fast and efficient customer service in nearly any language, so shoppers will always have someplace to turn with any questions or concerns.
Understanding e-shoppers’ biggest sources of anxiety when facing cross-border commerce is an important step to reaching those buyers more effectively. The good news is, these obstacles are far from impossible to overcome. For many e-tailers, taking on these problems alone may be out of the question. Partnering with a third-party logistics provider like Landmark Global allows e-tailers to meet these challenges head on and provide the best possible service to their consumers all over the world.