Author: Becca McDonald, eCommerce Worldwide
Naturally this extends to online shopping, with domestic retailers often offering exemplary customer care, free returns and expedited shipping. In fact, online marketplace NewEgg stipulates that third-party merchants must update their customer with tracking information within 72 hours or face their order being voided.
Fortunately, 40% of shoppers in the US are happy to buy from abroad. Research from United Postal Service reports that US customers greatly appreciate ‘free’ shipping, with over half more likely to take up an email offer that promotes this. Apparently, it is even more important to be upfront when it comes to shipping costs, with 56% of shoppers abandoning their cart when shipping costs were found to be more expensive than initially projected.
International sellers have an edge over domestic ones for two main reasons: 49% of shoppers thought foreign retailers offered better prices (perhaps evidenced in the wake of Brexit with 27% of British eCommerce purchases being sent cross-border since the vote to leave the EU and resulting drop in the pound). Secondly, 43% said that they shopped from foreign sites in order to find things that aren’t stocked by US retailers.
As in the UK, collect-from-store options are increasingly popular as a way to reduce delivery costs and allow the customer to collect at their convenience. Additionally, the same survey found that although next-day delivery is a bonus, US shoppers are in fact happy to wait an average of six days for ‘paid-for’ delivery and eight days for ‘free delivery’.
It is very important to consider alternate delivery options such as these and ways to manage delivery when customers may not be around to receive it personally. If a customer is away on business for a week, you need to consider alternate options such as holding the package at the nearest distribution centre, or leaving with a neighbour.
Finally, it is crucially important to make sure you have a clear returns process. According to the UPS study, less than two-thirds of US consumers are happy with the current experience they have when it comes to returns, which presents an opportunity for new e-tailers in the market to offer an improved service.
Key components of a good returns process would start with clear information on the website about the process and any costs involved (bonus points for a free return included in the cost of the sale), the opportunity to print a label and information about how parcels can be collected or dropped off. Once the return has been processed, customers would expect tracking information and a speedy refund process.
Managing this process as an international retailer means selecting a trustworthy carrier who can process both shipping and returns with minimal fuss or potentially looking into a third-party solution to take care of bulk returns. For more information, please consult our USA ‘passport’ guide.