December 2, 2021
5 Tips to Sell More with Cross-Border Shipping in 2022 | FlavorCloud
While we’re all beginning to see the end of another holiday season in sight (virtual high-five to all of us for surviving another BFCM), it’s time to look at your plans for 2022. If you’ve been neglecting or just outright ignoring international shipping, this is the year to let it grow your business by up to 20%.
Can it really be that simple? YES! In my experience, many merchants are surprised by how much international traffic their store is already getting. So why not play to those visitors rather than see them pass on by? The path of least resistance is still a path.
Let’s break it down with 5 tips to maximize your international sales in 2022:
1. Get Analytical
Google Analytics is your friend. Whether you’re already shipping internationally or not, all the data that you need to make a business case for it is sitting in whatever analytics package you’re using. Look at your existing international traffic (engaged sessions to remove any potential bot/spam traffic) by country. If you’re already shipping internationally, look at your engaged sessions, conversions, revenue, AOV, and conversion rate by country. This data is your baseline. Download it and set it aside.
Depending on the size of your business, these markets could be where you’ll find your next hundred, thousand, or even million new customers.
Don’t make it too complex. Focus on the top 3-5 countries driving the highest AOV and conversion rate and concentrate your efforts there. For example, for US-based companies, that’s usually Canada, Australia, and the UK. Ship to all 200+ countries but optimize for those markets driving the highest margins (including your marketing spend and CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)).
This isn’t something you need to do every day or even every week, but at least once or twice a month, you should be looking at this data to see trends and report on growth. Once you feel confident in how the first 3-5 markets are optimized, move on to the next 3-5 countries and optimize again. Test and refine.
If you sell products that are common targets for domestic and international fraud (e.g., fine jewelry, electronics, luxury goods), consider services specializing in fraud detection and loss prevention such as Signifyd, Forter, or NoFraud. US-based Shopify Stores using Shopify Payments may also use Shopify Fraud Protect.
2. Offer Wisely
Everyone loves a free shipping offer. Yay for us as consumers, but oy, this can be a headache as a merchant. Consider your best-selling products by country and work out which areas to target with international shipping offers. Again, focus on your top 5-10 products, not every SKU.
What are the duties, taxes, and VAT on those items? What is the standard shipping rate for that product to your major markets? Knowing this information helps you tailor your offers to increase your conversion rates. For example, if the duties and tax on your best-selling product are really high, then a free international shipping offer for that country could be critical to increasing your conversion rate (E.g., shipping leather to London has a high 20% duty, so free shipping can sweeten the deal to get those customers to convert).
Be smart, though. High shipping costs, along with a slew of new carrier fees for 2022, can quickly turn a 50%+ margin to below 20%. For example, offering free standard shipping on a $15 order at a 50% margin with an $8 shipping cost, and you’re going to come out -$0.50 on that order. And that’s before you factor in any pick/pack fees, shipping materials, or marketing costs. The good news is that international cart sizes are around 20% higher than domestic, so the best approach is to start with free standard shipping over a defined threshold that makes sense for your business. You’ll notice many merchants offering free shipping over $100 or $150 and there’s a great reason for that… optimizing your margin and increasing conversion rates together! If you don’t do the math upfront, your bottom line takes a hit after the fact.
Knowing your average shipping costs by cart size in your top markets is critical. Lean on a partner like FlavorCloud with highly discounted, volume-based, fee-inclusive shipping rates across both standard and express service levers. The shipping costs you negotiate on your own deeply impact your margins and your conversion rates.
If you need help or advice, just ask! We can share our rates and look at the duties/taxes for your specific products. With FlavorCloud, you can set different offers for different countries that customers will automatically see in your native cart at check-out.
3. Overcommunicate and Plan Ahead
This one’s really about learning lessons from last year. You’d have to be living in a cave to not know about current supply chain issues, and customers get it.
Just about everyone shifted their drop-dead delivery dates for the holidays. So don’t be shy about telling customers (again and again) to order much, much earlier. They appreciate and understand the reminder.
I got an awesome customer email from our FlavorCloud merchant TomboyX with the subject line ‘WTF is happening with the supply chain?’. Obviously, that tone is not for everyone, but for their business and their customers (myself included), it was spot on. It connected, made me laugh, as well as outlined the situation (and was a stellar example of brand voice IMO).
So, communicate, communicate, communicate! Think about your best markets and products and be transparent and realistic with shipping timelines.
4. Don’t Let Localization Stop You
If you’re concerned that your store isn’t yet localized for specific countries and nationalities, don’t let that be a barrier to shipping to that market.
Why? An English-speaking merchant might think they should only market to other English-speaking countries. While that’s an impressive 400 million native speakers worldwide, it doesn’t consider all those who speak English as a second language. That increases your market to around 1.75 billion potential customers. Let’s repeat that. Almost 2 billion people worldwide speak English as a first or second language. Wow.
If you do want to localize language for specific markets, consider services like Weglot, Smartling, and Langify (again, these are not endorsements versus specialized apps and APIs that we encourage you to explore). Plus, if your store operates via Shopify, there are a range of localization tools built-in (including currency conversion).
Either way, FlavorCloud can integrate easily to make sure customers, wherever in the world they are, get the best international shipping rates and options (this includes seamless integration with Shopify Markets, BTW).
5. Don’t DIY
If 2022 is the year you plan to ‘go global’, this is the most important piece of advice around international shipping. Don’t go it alone. Trust the experts and choose the right partner.
Doing it yourself can create operational and financial chaos. Merchants might start out thinking, “I’ll just figure it out for the UK, then see how that goes.” But as the complexity grows (filling out the paperwork for different countries, various tax filings, etc.), it gets wildly overwhelming. Often people just give up or deprioritize the project. The number of merchants that stopped shipping to the UK/EU over this year’s VAT changes was insane, especially considering that we expect that more countries are going to follow suit with VAT changes this year.
These complex times are when a solution like FlavorCloud can make life (and business) so much easier. We take care of the entire process for you across every country, serving as your importer of record, using our tax filings, VAT numbers, everything. It’s as easy as installing the app or using our robust APIs (including international returns if you like). Your customers get the best shipping rates and see an accurate landed cost at checkout.
To see your international sales grow in 2022, make sure you use the right data and enablement partner.
By choosing FlavorCloud, you and your customers benefit from our cross-border shipping expertise. We ship to 200+ countries worldwide with a network of over 280 different carriers, automatically optimizing the best DDP rates and routes in real-time in your native cart.
Using the right expert means you can work smarter instead of harder, leaving you free to focus on growing your business.
Bernadette Hunter serves as the Head of Sales at FlavorCloud, with more than twenty years of experience in sales and marketing.
Bernadette taught herself to code in the late ’90s, which led to her first start-up role in Silicon Valley at the beginning of Y2K. Since then, she has held sales executive roles at big companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo.
When not helping ecommerce retailers efficiently ship cross-border, she is an avid senior dog foster mom, and in her spare time, she loves movies, gaming (Switch and Oculus), and all things pop culture.
Bernadette leads our Direct Sales team, partnering with merchants to scale their businesses. We’re thrilled to have her on our leadership team since June 2021.