March 1, 2022
Why it Pays to Set Expectations for International Shipping | FlavorCloud
Patience is a virtue, the saying goes, but end consumers can have very different expectations when they hit that ‘order now’ button.
Everyone—merchants, carriers, and customers—are aiming for fast as possible international shipping. But some things are simply beyond our control. So it’s wise for merchants to set expectations around delivery times.
Done right, you’ll earn trust, customer satisfaction, loyalty, and recommendations for your brand.
Challenges: The Three Cs
So, what are we setting expectations about?
Firstly, there’s what I call ‘the three Cs’ (Covid, Customs, Conditions—bad weather)—unpredictable factors that slow things down, whatever your shipping option.
Secondly, it’s making sure your customers understand what those shipping options really mean. E.g., if they don’t realize your shipping cost includes everything (duties, taxes, fees), your competitor might look cheaper (but will land the end customer with extra surprise costs later).
By being clear and transparent, merchants can pave the way for understanding, patience, customer satisfaction—and more cart conversions.
The Online Shopping Boom
The internet has made the world a much smaller place, empowering many businesses to reach larger global audiences. Partnering with FlavorCloud can help merchants streamline the international shipping experience. We’re seeing more products than ever moving further, more often, and across more international borders.
COVID has been a significant driver in this boom, initially through necessity (with more physical shops closed) and psychologically. In lockdowns and isolation, online shopping can bring a sense of order where’s there’s a lack of control or distraction and escapism where there’s boredom and worry.
However, the moment you checkout, the excitement, and joy give way to…
the l o n g w a i t.
The First C: Covid
When consumers are aware of the connected elements that factor into the global delivery ecosystem, it’s easier to be patient.
Ironically, one of those factors is COVID. While it’s driving the boom, it’s also exasperating the lag. Outbreaks continue to cause delays at ports and throughout the global supply chain.
If a country is 50% in lockdown, for example, there’s a ripple effect: 50% fewer workers, drivers, customs officials, which slows things down. Equally, more end customers are at home, watching Netflix, getting Uber eats, and online shopping. That’s a lot more (slow-moving) traffic in the lanes of global ecommerce.
Take Australia, which has been impacted by strict and far-reaching lockdowns. Most people don’t realize that many items go in on non-business carrier planes, e.g., Qantas. But in lockdown, fewer planes are flying in, so fewer products can move in or out.
The second C: Customs
Customs are the ‘politics’ of cross-border shipping. One country’s relationship with another determines how a shipment can come in. This applies to product country of origin as well. Not just the duties or taxes, but how it’s scrutinized from a compliance aspect too.
Each country has its own unique rules and nuances that are commodity specific. E.g., some don’t allow anything that could be ingested. Some don’t allow precious metals.
There’s the human angle too. Customs agents are people; some scrutinize more than others. Or maybe they didn’t get that promotion, and the day your shipment comes through, they think, “I’m going to be the best, most thorough agent there is”.
There’s no guarantee on how long customs clearance will take. But with FlavorCloud, you can be sure that all the standard requirements, classifications, and documentation are taken care of automatically—like your own TSA pre-check for packages.
The Third C: Conditions
Then there’s Mother Nature (who doesn’t much care for your delivery schedule!). Historic flooding in Germany and Italy in Summer 2021 caused massive disruption to shipments in Europe. More recently, heavy weather conditions in Canada and Europe have continued to test the infrastructure.
While FlavorCloud empowers the shipping process with the best shipping rates (thanks to our largest global network of carriers), high quality parcel network (which minimizes clearance delays and holds) and optimized routes—none of us can control bad weather or COVID complications.
What Consumers Should Know
When choosing an International Shipping option, another old saying comes to mind: you get what you pay for.
For consumers, there’s always a battle playing out over what they’re willing to pay for delivery. But ‘Good, Fast and Cheap’ isn’t possible. ‘Good, Fast and More Expensive’ (Express!) is your best bet if getting it fast is important (always remember that the three Cs do not discriminate to level of service).
Be Clear About DDP and Guaranteed Landed Cost
Flagging the positives is the way to provide a good customer experience. Making sure shipments are DDP (Delivery Duties Paid) makes for smoother customs clearance as it goes through a fast-track process within our customs clearance network. DDU (Delivery Duties Unpaid) can add up to two or three weeks for formal customs review and leave your customer with surprise extra costs.
With FlavorCloud, DDP is the preferred way, helping merchants speed things up and giving customers the certainty of seeing a full landed cost upfront. Make this clear: a competitor may look ‘cheaper’ but won’t be as good on value if they’re shipping DDU; also, check to see if their “DDP” offering is guaranteed rates or an estimate that will surprise you and/or your end customer later on.
Keeping on Top of Duties and Taxes
Most consumers don’t realize that taxes and duties also feature in domestic purchases: we just don’t see them broken down.
With international shipping, the full landed cost covers all duties, taxes, and fees. E.g., if you ship to Canada, the duty threshold is $150 ($800 in the US). Packages under that incur no duty charge, but each province has import taxes to take into account. Then there are other fees (carrier network costs, brokerage, etc.).
With FlavorCloud, all of this is calculated intelligently and accurately with our unique algorithm, so there’s no need for merchants to worry. Customers see the best value shipping options automatically in your native cart.
We’re always on hand to help merchants with resources and can help with your international shipping FAQ, making everything clear for your customers. Quick tips I’d suggest for your store website or order confirmation emails are:
- List out the elements (DDP etc.) that make up the total international shipping price
- Add text to clarify that transit times are always a best estimate
- Caveat that unforeseen delays can occur (Customs, COVID, Conditions)
That said, FlavorCloud’s success rate is over 99%. While we don’t physically ‘touch’ your shipments, we enable the whole international shipping process with our comprehensive network of carriers at the best discounted rates.
It’s such an exciting time for global ecommerce. Advanced tech like FlavorCloud means consumers can buy in countries around the globe: from established markets to new emerging regions, where you’ll discover unique treasures.
Our brand name is no accident—as well as our Cloud-based technology, it represents how we bring all the flavors of international trade and ecommerce together.
Online shopping can enable livelihoods worldwide, so merchants and consumers play a significant role in the global marketplace.
By guiding and educating end customers about the benefits and realities of cross-bored shipping, merchants can create the best online shopping experience—made easy and affordable with FlavorCloud. And pave the way for creating and scaling a global presence for your brand.
Subscribe to Blog Posts
We'll send you an email when new blog articles are posted.
Head of Content & PR at FlavorCloud, with a passion for combining creativity and data. Please get in touch with any PR requests, relevant guest post pitches, and collaboration ideas at trilby.rajna[at]favorcloud[dot]com.