International Delivery Issues and How to Avoid Them

November 2018

The quality of delivery is incredibly important for any eCommerce or online retail business. Consumers may be put off from buying from your site again if their orders arrive late, damaged, or, in the worst case, don’t turn up at all.

Research has shown that two-thirds of consumers claim to have experienced at least one problem with their online shopping parcel delivery over the past 12 months. With cross-border eCommerce shopping on the rise too, especially among younger consumers, you need to be aware of any potential issues with international deliveries and how to avoid them.

Packaging Problems

Issue: There are various challenges when it comes to packaging up your products to ship them abroad. Improper packaging can result in items not being accepted by your shipping partner or them getting damaged in transit. Labels can come off and the address damaged to become unreadable too, resulting in a failed delivery. To get the most cost-effective shipping, you won’t want to use excess packaging material that adds extra weight or increases its size either.

Solution: Always follow the packaging guidelines of the courier or shipping service. Use an appropriately sized envelope, box, or pallet that is durable and secure. Packing in the products tightly is essential, with little room for them to move around. Make sure the address is written on clearly or that the label is stuck on securely. If you’re outsourcing picking and packing, be sure to regularly do quality control checks so that everything is up to standard.

Dealing with International Returns

Issue: It is always annoying to deal with returns and when they come from an international market it can be even trickier. The issue is with the extra time deliveries and returns will take overseas and the added risk this brings about.

Solution: Firstly, reduce the chance of returns by making sure all the images and descriptions of products are clear and accurate on your site. Then create an international returns policy, factoring in extra time to allow for outgoing and incoming deliveries. Collect data on all returns, which can provide an overview of issues with particular products or deliveries to certain areas. 

Unexpected Shipping Costs

Issue: Understandably, shipping overseas is more expensive than domestically, so this needs to be factored into your budget and delivery costs for international customers. What can cause an issue is unexpected shipping costs that appear due to poor preparation. These can be couriers adding surcharges, such as for fuel, remote or extended areas, to customs and taxes.   

Solution: A good understanding of all the costs involved in international delivery is required. These include exporting and importing duties, taxes, and more for the countries where you are sending goods. This is true when dealing with international returns too, as it will be your responsibility that tax and customs for goods sent from abroad are covered.

Items Stuck in Customs

Issue: One thing that can delay your deliveries to customers is if they get stuck in customs. There are many reasons items can get stuck in customs:

Customs clearance or customs handling fees will apply, to get these goods out, possibly with an advancement fee for paying the duty and VAT, along with security fees for screening if required. 

Solution: Make sure all the correct customs costs are covered, paperwork is attached, and the items do not fall foul of prohibited or restricted regulations. If it’s too late and your items are stuck in customs, contact your courier directly for more information about the issue. Find out if outstanding taxes need paying and whether there is missing or incorrect paperwork, then you should be able to sort this out and get it delivered. Apologise to your customer if this means their order will be late.

Arrange International Delivery with Whistl

Get started with Whistl to organise international parcel delivery to your customers. We have expertise in the customs and regulations of each country and with our international parcel delivery offering, we manage your deliveries from collection to final mile. Cross-border deliveries are simple and reliable when using Whistl.

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