A Shopware shop enables online retailers to sell from anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world. Sounds great, but in practice, international shipping can be less clear cut. However, those who shy away from selling internationally (and outside the EU) are denying themselves new sales markets. Customers are increasingly open to ordering internationally. The borders of global online trade continue to blur. If you sell local products that could be in demand internationally, then you should take the plunge into international markets. If you believe in your product and think it could achieve international success, offer international shipping.
Speaking of the product, online retailers must ask themselves how transportable their own product is over long distances. Some products, such as spray cans, cannot be shipped internationally at all. The decision is yours and experience will help you grow.
With Sendcloud as our exclusive Shopware shipping partner, we are able to provide you with experts who know all about shipping solutions. Easy to use, Sendcloud's admin allows you to optimise your shipping process, while intelligent shipping rules mean you can easily manage international shipments yourself. We have compiled 5 tips in this guest post that will help you position yourself internationally.
Pay attention to packaging and contents
Shipping starts with packaging your goods. Robust packaging is essential, especially for longer shipping times. Fragile goods, and basically anything that could break, should always be generously filled with packaging material. You can use polystyrene foam and/or classic bubble wrap for this purpose. Bear in mind that goods shipped internationally are in transit longer than domestic shipments. As a rule of thumb, you should always leave a distance of 6 cm between the product and the packaging. This excludes packaging material that’s too small for this. Well secured parcels have a much higher delivery rate. If you want satisfied customers, leave nothing to chance and take as little risk as possible, especially when shipping internationally.
The corners of the parcel should be well secured with packaging tape that’s at least 48 mm wide to protect against abrasion. You should refrain from using newspaper as filling material, as censorship regulations apply in some countries. It is also not advisable to tie up shipping boxes with cables or wires. The “Fragile” label or sticker is usually applied by the shipping provider. Be sure to check this with the provider beforehand, as this sign may be prohibited depending on the type of shipment. As with all international shipments, make sure you are well informed before you act.
The address: keep your chances of delivery high
Country-specific address regulations can pose an additional challenge. Other languages or conventions may cause some confusion at first. However, a few rules of thumb help to ensure correct international addressing. A correct address always has at least 3 and no more than 6 lines. The first line is always the name of the recipient, followed by the street and house number, then the postcode and city/town. The last line is always the country. It helps to write the country in capital letters and in English for international shipments. Other abbreviations such as CH, F or BR may cause confusion during sorting. A clearly written “Switzerland”, “France” or “Brazil” can easily be sorted internationally.
Additional information such as the recipient’s telephone number or email address is also required for international shipping (outside the EU). This can help increase the chances of a successful delivery. Another factor is the shipping provider you choose. There are basically two options: You can select providers such as UPS or DHL who handle the entire process through their international shipping chain, or you can ship from one local provider to another, e.g. Royal Mail in England to Deutsche Post in Germany.
It ultimately comes down to shipping costs with these options. Additional delivery options may impact the final shipping costs, i.e. tracking, insurance, express delivery, etc. The further the parcel has to travel, the longer it is in transit, of course. The best thing to do is decide in advance which options you want to offer your customers and which are best suited for your products.
The thing about customs: check documents
Outside the EU, you’ll need to deal with an issue that we tend to forget about in everyday life. Customs continues to be an international reality and can cause delays in the delivery of your parcel. Declarable parcels involve a little more paperwork and require the following correctly completed documents: For shipments outside the EU, make sure you have three copies of a correctly completed commercial invoice, and, when shipping with a postal company (such as German Post or Austrian Post), the correct customs declaration (CN22/CN23) with the belonging CP71 dispatch note.
If you send parcels with DHL Express or UPS, you can also make use of “paperless trade”. This means that the customs forms are transmitted to the shipping provider electronically. This saves you having to affix extensive documents to your parcel. The customs forms are sent to the corresponding shipping provider as soon as you prepare your international orders – a huge time saver! This also reduces the risk of important documents getting lost somewhere along the journey.
Handling international returns
International shipments are also subject to returns, of course. To ensure that customers order from you again despite a return, you should offer them the best possible service. An online returns portal in various languages (such as the one Sendcloud offers for European shipments) can help here. In addition, you can keep returns cost-effective by familiarising yourself with the conditions of the shipping service providers in advance. It all depends on the services you require. What exactly do you need? Fast shipping, good tracking, low shipping costs? Comparing different providers can certainly be worthwhile in this respect.
Sendcloud: a reliable partner for your shipping process
So, have you decided to get into international shipping? This introduction to the intricacies of international sales and shipping has hopefully given you a good overview. We couldn’t cover all eventualities here, of course, but we wanted to show you that you too can cater to international customers with the right tools.
If you have any further questions, take a look at Sendcloud’s white paper on “International Shipping”. There you’ll find a total of 10 tips and detailed explanations of the topics discussed here.
Sendcloud is the all-in-one shipping software for online shops. The goal is to make shipping a parcel as easy as sending an email.
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Find out more about Multi-store management across channels and countries in the talk of Tim Rymarczyk, Key Account Manager at Shopware, at this year's Shopware Community Day 2020: