When Etailers Unintentionally Attract International Traffic
This March 20th, 2012 NYTimes.com article by Stephanie Clifford, U.S. Stores Learn How to Ship to Foreign Shoppers, highlights the fact that ecommerce stores are “going international”, even without the intentions of doing so:
“We were getting international traffic,” said Kent Anderson, president of Macys.com. “It was coming whether we were offering them, frankly, any realistic way to interact with the site or not.”
But finding a way to enable ecommerce operations to handle international traffic and sales can be somewhat of a challenge. Barriers, like shipping–something everyone usually considers insignificant when doing business domestically– can become a major headache for etailers attempting to tap into international revenues. This quote from the previously sited NYTimes article demonstrates the way e-merchants begin thinking about international shipping, and where the road blocks fall in.
“Typically the guys we’re talking to start off thinking they can toss it in a box and give it to U.P.S. or FedEx and hope it gets there,” said Michael DeSimone, chief executive of FiftyOne, a technology company that helps retailers add international shipping capabilities. But there are problems with ordering systems, customs and postal fees, he said.
For example, many retailers do not have software in their warehouse management systems that recognizes foreign postal codes, which — unlike those in the United States — do not always have five digits.
According to the article, international shoppers are visiting American web stores because of cheaper prices and to find products not available in their own countries.
And many e-merchants are using third party vendors, like GlobalShopEx (our partner) to handle shipping, currency conversions, etc.. The benefits to using such vendors are clear: 1) No hassle understanding customs (what products will ship or not) 2) Easy check out for international customers 3) Takes the shipping risk off the merchant. Though third parties do charge their fees, some merchants can expect to see 5-10% increases in international revenues, so the investment could be well worthwhile.
How’s your international traffic looking, and what are you doing to capture conversions?