Enabling seamless international shipping for marketplaces and merchants
By Graham Heard – Partner & Channel Business Development, Pitney Bowes
Growing merchants know the next retail frontier is global expansion. In some markets, the proportion of international retail volume rivals purchases from domestic customers, and that will only increase as more consumers in emerging markets are encouraged to buy from retailers in other countries.
Marketplaces play a role in this growth because they represent an attractive path to cross-border ecommerce for many merchants. But, there is one catch. In order to credibly offer a complete solution for global ecommerce, marketplaces will need to help their merchants solve for international shipping challenges.
There’s no denying marketplaces are a great option for merchants looking to sell globally. One of their big advantages is the high, built-in interest from an established pool of eager customers. According to the 2016 Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study, 66 percent of worldwide online shoppers say they’d consider buying products from online marketplaces, compared to 62 percent for retail websites.
Merchants want a piece of that pie. But, many marketplace sellers struggle to untangle the complexities of international shipping. It’s a world filled with regulations, restrictions and classifications. International shipping is hard enough for major retailers to figure out, but it’s especially tricky for the smaller merchants that depend on marketplace platforms for their expertise and resources.
To stay competitive, improve service for existing merchants and attract new cross-border sellers, marketplaces need to be able to offer a full end-to-end ecommerce experience, and that includes streamlined international shipping capabilities.
Complete™ Marketplace, part of the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, makes seamless international shipping available to every marketplace. As a result, it’s easier than ever for large and small marketplace merchants to sell cross-border, with capabilities that were once only available to the world’s largest retailers. Here’s how streamlined international shipping can make a difference for your marketplace.
Without International Shipping, Your Marketplace is Incomplete
Many marketplace platforms are challenged to offer integrated international shipping, because it’s a complex area of commerce. On a country-to-country basis, regulators set different requirements on the types of products you can import or export, as well as the duties and taxes buyers have to pay to ship those items. It’s a huge feat for any single marketplace to research, understand and manage these restrictions and requirements across every country they work in.
Although most marketplaces are set up with domestic order management and shipping capabilities, the international shipping process often has to occur off-platform, meaning it’s up to the merchant to figure out goods classification, restrictions, costs and compliance on their own. That creates a difficult experience for merchants.
As a seller, if you can’t easily wrap your head around shipping to more than a few countries, you might simply ignore those markets altogether. That limits the number of countries a merchant can sell to, preventing them from fully benefiting from a global ecommerce strategy. For the marketplace, that limits growth potential – there’s a whole world of cross-border retailers out there who need a platform to sell on, and if you can’t offer easy international shipping, yours is not going to be a viable option for those merchants.
Complete™ Marketplace Makes It Easy to Go Global
Marketplaces that integrate Complete™ Marketplace get the full power of the Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud at their disposal. This includes powerful APIs for easy integration, a built-in support base of international shipping expertise and tools that allow you to craft a seamless international shipping experience to compliment your domestic shipping counterpart.
Our Shipping APIs, backed by the proprietary Pitney Bowes Global Carrier Services (GCS) technology platform, makes it fast and easy for merchants and third-party software developers to integrate Complete™ Marketplace.
Merchants gain an integrated shipping experience that runs directly in concert with their domestic orders, with no need for separate carriers or processes. International orders are shipped directly to a domestic Pitney Bowes address and we handle the logistics from there.
As noted in our Annual Shopping Study, lengthy delivery times discourage 39 percent of global online buyers from shopping at cross-border retailers. In-country customs could add weeks to each order and carriers don’t typically factor this time into their delivery estimates, leading to buyer and seller frustration.
To simplify and speed up compliance, Complete™ Marketplace automatically pre-classifies product catalogues in applicable countries, “clearing the air” with local customs agencies the moment a product is ordered. By the time the product arrives in a country, it can be immediately passed on to a last-mile carrier to bring it to its final destination. Merchants are able to promise accurate shipping time estimates, creating a better experience for the buyer.
Forty-eight percent of online shoppers say unexpected costs, like duties and taxes, deter them from cross-border buying. Complete™ Marketplace allows merchants to disclose the fully landed cost for each purchase at the checkout page, ensuring buyers don’t receive a surprise bill for duties and taxes.
The estimate is fully guaranteed by Pitney Bowes, meaning buyers won’t have to pay a cent more than the final quote, even if the additional fees change. Price certainty is a huge advantage for cross-border merchants, and thus, a big benefit for marketplaces to offer.
Complete™ Marketplace offers capabilities that in the past, were only available to massive worldwide retailers through strategic partnerships with global carriers. Now, marketplaces can offer their sellers fast, fully trackable and competitively-priced international shipping, along with full cost transparency, compliance support.
All of this is available through the Cloud, baked directly into existing marketplace platforms, and with no extra work required by the seller. For marketplaces, Complete™ Marketplace offers the ability to unlock new avenues of growth across the global continuum of ecommerce.
The second annual Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study reveals that while international shoppers share some common similarities on how they are finding and buying products online, consumers have unique global shopping preferences and behaviors that vary by country. Read more.
To request further information on any of our Global Ecommerce products or services, contact us and a Pitney Bowes representative will be in touch with you.
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