A trend that we”re monitoring at Shipwire is the growing pattern of international customers buying from U.S. merchants and the frustrations merchants have fulfilling this demand. If you go to the eBay forums you”ll see all sorts of seller frustration for fulfilling orders to Canada and Europe.
Potentially, one of the contributing factors to the growth of international buyers from U.S. Web merchants is the weakness of the U.S. dollar. As the U.S. dollar weakens against the Euro and the Canadian Dollar, foreign buyers are finding that U.S. goods are cheaper and cheaper. There have been a few newspaper articles on Europeans flying to New York to take long shopping sprees where their money gets them a significant built in discount. The same theory may continue to apply to online sales.
What is the impact to Web retailers as foreign buyers shop from your website?
Most shopping carts and payment systems can handle the international credit card payments, thus one of the great headaches is simply order fulfillment and shipping to International buyers. Some of the more obvious challenges include: Shipping rate lookups, carrier selection (should you ship Fedex, USPS international, DHL, etc?), order tracking, customs paperwork and the inevitable insurance issues that come up from lost payments. Some of the not so obvious challenges include maintaining a competitive retail price for International buyers when shipping costs are factored in, fraud prevention and ensuring a timely delivery to International buyers.
Shipwire presents an innovative solution to these issues.
Shipwire is building a global warehouse network. Shipwire just launched a Toronto warehouse and many international companies use our U.S. warehouses to enter the U.S. market. What does this mean for Web retailers? With Shipwire’s International facilities a U.S. merchant can move a portion of inventory to Toronto, clearing customs once with the bulk shipment keeping prices as low as possible and using top Freight Forwarders to track and insure the bulk movement of inventory. Once inventory is in place in Canada every new Canadian order can be fulfilled “locally” using low cost Canadian Post. This allows a growing Web retailer to enter a new market as a local company with local product fulfillment — no more per/order customs paperwork, faster delivery and lower cost shipping rates for intra-country commerce shipments.
Shipwire takes it a step further, we help merchants establish the requisite Business Registration with a Canadian Business number and our Canadian accounting partners can help with tax and reporting issues (see “Advanced Use”).
So, don’t be afraid of International buyers, consider it a request to expand into a new market and get ready to grow your business.
Nate oversees our channel development and developer network, as well as our marketing and public relations. Previously, Nate was at Concentric, acquired by XO Communications, where he ran product management, sales and marketing. Over his six year career with Concentric, he developed dozens of new business channels, by initiating new products for small- and mid- size businesses, developing partner programs for those products, and working with web developers and systems integrators to provide ongoing support of those products. Nate has also held various legal positions in intellectual property and business law. He holds a B.A. in History, and a J.D., from Santa Clara University.