Shipping internationally during peak shopping seasons is tricky but getting it right can mean leveraging global shipping as a competitive advantage

Shipping internationally—especially during peak shopping seasons—can be challenging for retailers. But those that get it right may be able to leverage international shipping as a competitive advantage. To learn how offering a variety of shipping options can help retailers quickly and cost-effectively ship globally, Internet Retailer spoke with Steve Carr, national accounts manager, North America, and Ana de la Vega, head of product, at Zenda, a provider of international shipping solutions powered by British Airways.

IR: What are the biggest challenges online retailers face when they sell to overseas customers?

SC: The most daunting issue is the staggeringly high cart abandonment rate, which averages 70% with international customers. That means that seven out of 10 of your prospective customers will choose to not complete their orders. The root cause is often retailers’ high overseas shipping rates—generally much higher than domestic shipping rates—or limited delivery options that take weeks.

Steve Carr Zenda

Steve Carr, national accounts manager, North America, Zenda

AV: Retailers already have to meet high standards that customers expect for domestic orders—primarily speed, cost and convenience—but this is far more challenging when you’re shipping overseas. Another frustrating issue for overseas customers are surprise bills for unpaid import taxes and duties when their package arrives. They often weren’t aware they had to pay because it wasn’t made transparent at checkout.


IR: What strategies can retailers implement to address these challenges?

SC: To start, retailers can broaden their shipping options, offering their customers a choice of shipping speeds and prices. Additionally, adding a tax and duty calculator to the checkout process will give customers full transparency to the true cost of a cross-border order.

AV: Technology advancements have enabled new entrants to the shipping logistics space. By looking out for new suppliers, you can ensure you are catering to your customers and offering them more choices and better service. If you offer multiple shipping options, allow customers to pay all taxes and duties in advance, and make shipping information a prominent part of your website, you appeal to customers at home and abroad.

Ana de la Vega Zenda

Ana de la Vega, head of product, Zenda

IR: How can retailers quickly respond to these challenges before the holiday shopping season?


AV: Retailers can implement a cross-border solution, like Zenda’s, that offers both a tax and duty calculator and a four- to eight-day door-to-door delivery service from the U.S. to Europe. A merchant can download Zenda’s plug-in to its shopping cart, map its SKU catalog to the proper European customs codes, and begin to print labels and ship parcels through our shipping dashboard.

SC: A retailer can get up and running with Zenda in a matter of a few weeks, and our platform works well with major ecommerce platforms. We’ll pick up a retailer’s parcels at its location, take them to the airport, fly them overnight to Europe, clear them through customs and get them delivered to their customers. All parcels have full tracking, and there are no surprise accessorial fees, like fuel charges or residential delivery fees.

And because Zenda uses British Airways’ airplanes that are already in the air, the costs are much lower. For our standard service to Europe, our prices are up to 50% less than other express providers.