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Dec 20, 2018

International Deliveries in the Holiday Season

When it comes to international commerce fulfilment during the busy holiday season, many merchants still leave their planning to the last minute. It’s always better to start planning as early as possible to make sure of getting the right strategy in place. This will certainly pay dividends for your business. Also, use the learning from one year to build and improve your service in the following years. This is especially true for international shipments, where complex customs rules, clearances and the time required for shipping may vary.

Merchants who dig deeper to understand the season’s international shipping calendar and clearly communicate delivery deadlines with their customers will always have an advantage over their competitors. They’ll also deliver an exceptional end-customer experience and this will help to differentiate their brand. This is where working with a professional delivery marketplace like WING can help all sellers, large and small. WING will not only provide transparent costs and service comparisons across a range of pre-approved international delivery options, it has also negotiated some amazing rates for the holiday season, valid through 15 January 2019. These rates are available to everyone through the new WING online marketplace, and will help you to manage even the most sophisticated delivery expectations from international customers.

Customers want fast, convenient shipping, as well as continually updated tracking and delivery notifications from their sellers.

With this in mind, make sure your fulfilment process is built around a communications infrastructure that notifies customers exactly when a package is shipped and delivered. Estimated shipping windows should be messaged onsite at point of purchase and in confirmation messaging. By setting up appropriate shipping updates via email and offering alternate formats for shipping updates, like Facebook messenger, customers are kept up to date, improving their overall shopping experience. These and other post-purchase experience elements impact their brand perception and loyalty. Merchants must be equipped to offer readily available support, no-questions-asked guarantees, flexible delivery and return policies and to sustain engagement through the customer’s ownership of a product. Digital and physical subscriptions for goods and services are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. By establishing a subscription-based model of goods, you’ll give customers something to look forward to every month, while firming up their brand loyalty.

Try offering an expedited delivery option

Retailers who offer same or next day fulfilment along with reasonably priced or free expedited shipping, such as one or two-day services are better equipped to compete with the world’s largest etailers.

Deadlines should be reiterated through the online purchase process.

Remember, deadlines for reaching your international customers will differ from domestic deadlines. Convey them clearly to your customers. Make sure visitors understand exactly when they need to place an order by country and region, so their shipment will reach them before the holidays. When designing your holiday website, relevant deadlines on your homepage will encourage international shoppers to make their purchases and secure that the goods are in the hands of your happy customer on time. A simple buy-before calendar or infographic on your site will do the job nicely.

Many sellers still rely on manual processes that increase compliance risks. Trying to keep up with changing tax rates when selling and shipping goods is tough for any seller. These issues are particularly acute for online stores. Expanding into new product offerings can quickly multiply the complexities of VAT management. Taxation rules can vary widely for international versus local deliveries even for the same product.

Over the past decade, the traditional competitive differentiators, the so-called 4-Ps of placement, product, price, and promotion have been eroded. Instead, companies have moved on to compete on customer experience. This spans the customer’s entire lifetime of engagement with a brand, from the creative sparks that fuel that first moment of awareness, across the myriad moments of interaction with a brand, which increasingly involves commerce, through to the affinity of ownership.

The ability to drive emotion has a bigger impact on brand loyalty than effectiveness or ease in every industry, according to The US Customer Experience Index, published in June 2018 by Forrester. Elite brands provided over twenty emotionally positive experiences for each negative one. The bottom 5 percent of brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one, according to the report.

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