Global ecommerce is taking off, and businesses that sell their products internationally have the potential to capitalize on this growing market. With worldwide ecommerce sales anticipated to reach over $4.9 trillion by 2021, it is more important now than ever for your business to evaluate and prioritize the ecommerce strategies that influence your international sales.

Your company’s cross-border shipping strategy can either make or break its global sales. Factors like slow delivery times, high shipping costs, and unexpected shipping fees cause thousands of consumers to abandon their carts when making purchases online, leading to over $18 billion in lost sales revenue by ecommerce businesses around the globe.

If you are struggling with cart abandonment and a subsequent loss of revenue, you need to adjust your cross-border shipping strategy.

Here are three steps that can help you improve your international shipping process so that you can boost your global ecommerce sales:

Step 1: Benchmark and adapt

You’ve probably heard the saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, it is... and now, we’re going to put that notion into motion.

The first step toward improving your cross-border shipping is to take a look and learn from your direct competition. Take a deep dive into a competitor’s shipping policy page and FAQ page and find out as much as you can about their cross-border shipping process. If you have a friend or relative who lives internationally and is willing to play along, go as far as to order a product from their website.

While this might seem like a step in the opposite direction, it is actually essential for seeing the shipping process through the eyes of a consumer. Since you will be acting as a customer, you will have a unique understanding of what works with your competitor’s shipping process as well as any faults with your own.

Start by taking note of every single step in their cross-border shipping process:

  • How do they communicate information like order confirmations, shipping times, and tracking numbers?
  • How long does it take the product you ordered to reach your front door?
  • Were there any surprises, positive or negative, during the shipping or delivery process?

After you receive your shipment, review your notes and write down everything that their company does that you do not. Be willing to accept that the shipping experience your competitor provides has the potential to be better than the one that you offer your customers. When you look at this information honestly and holistically, you will be in a better position to determine what your company needs to change or add in order to improve your cross-border shipping process.

Step 2: Evaluate your customers and their unique needs

One mistake that many ecommerce stores make is to offer a single, one-size-fits-all shipping method that they assume will work well for all of their customers. This could not be further from the truth. Often times these shipping methods have limited or undesirable shipping options, and they are unsuitable for many customers. Each of your customers is unique, and they need to have shipping options that meet their individual needs.

Here is an example of a standard shipping model for businesses shipping products from the US to Europe:

Shipping methods:

  • International Economy (7-14 days)$19.79
  • Express Expedited (2-3 days)$77.68
  • Express Overnight (1-2 days)$83.52

What’s missing with this example above? Shipping choices!  With this model, the shipper is really only providing 2 shipping options: inexpensive but slow, and fast but really expensive.

While these options might be fine for some cross-border shoppers, it does nothing to entice the consumers that need something in the middle of these options.

Here is another example of a shipping method offered by a discount eCommerce bookseller that ships internationally:

Shipping methods:

  • International (10-21 days)FREE

Since this ecommerce retailer only sells books, many people think that this is an acceptable shipping method. You might even be saying to yourself, “Are you suggesting that companies should offer shipping rates that are greater than the cost of their merchandise?”


Don’t assume that your customers will want limited shipping options just because of the value of the products they are ordering, and don’t assume that just because your shipping is free, you won’t lose a customer due to your lack of shipping choices!

The best way to cover your bases with your shipping method is to make sure you have options to address the 3 basic types of consumers:

  • Those consumers willing to pay more for fast shipping
  • Those consumers looking for less expensive options, and willing to accept slightly slower transit times
  • Those consumers who are not in a hurry to get their merchandise and are likely looking to minimize their shipping expenses

When you keep all of these consumers in mind, you will be able to offer options that will meet your customer’s needs and keep them from abandoning their carts.

Step 3: Consider your import taxes and duties

The vast majority of international shippers in the US ship by using Delivered Duties Unpaid (DDU) customs processes. DDU shipping means that the customer will be responsible for paying any import taxes owed on an item at the time of delivery.

A website that uses DDU shipping may have a policy like this:

International Shipping Policy – note that items shipped outside of the United States may be subject to taxes and duties.  These fees are not included in the purchase price of our items, and it is the sole responsibility of the purchaser to pay for these fees.  Because such fees vary widely from country to country, we advise you to check with your country’s customs office to determine what these additional costs will be prior to placing your order.

So, what’s the problem with DDU shipping? In most cases, the customer is not aware of what they owe until the moment they receive a shipment. As you might imagine, this could lead to a very unpleasant surprise for customers who think they have already completed payment for a product.

Worst case scenario? The customers might refuse to pay these fees, resulting in them losing the product they ordered. Best case scenario? The surprised customer pays the fees, but no longer trusts doing business with that company. Either way, this common practice can lead to a decrease in customer loyalty and repeat customers.

This shipping issue has an easy solution. Ship using Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) methods. This method puts the onus of any taxes and duties on the shipper rather than the customer.

While DDP shipping requires more from the merchant on the front-end, it allows companies to show customers exactly how much taxes and duties are owed at checkout. Since these numbers are factored into their total price at checkout, delivery is smoother, and customers do not have to face any unexpected fees or unpleasant surprises upon receiving their product.

Shipping products with Zenda

Zenda is a shipping provider that can help your company improve its cross-border shipping strategy and avoid shipping issues that result in losing sales. Powered by British Airways, Zenda helps merchants ship products from the United States to Europe with ease.

DDP shipping

Zenda uses DDP shipping to make sure all landed costs, taxes and duties, and other fees are calculated accurately at checkout. This allows customers to trust that they will not encounter any unexpected shipping costs or fees when they receive their goods.

Fast, inexpensive shipping

Because Zenda uses British Airways aircraft, we are able to offer fast shipping at inexpensive prices. Companies that are trying to provide more shipping options for their customers will benefit from our 4 to 8 day shipping at prices that are 30 to 50% cheaper than Express providers.

Zenda can help your business develop a cross-border shipping strategy that will meet your customer’s needs and improve their shipping and delivery experience. Find out more about how Zenda can revolutionize your international shipping process by contacting us today.