Author: Georges Berzgal, Vice President, Pitney Bowes
According to Pitney Bowes annual Global Shopping Study (2015), Australians are most likely of global consumers (at 63%) to purchase products online from retailers outside their own country. That number jumps to 69% if you look at Australian consumers who are 35-44 years old.
Why are they shopping cross-border? According to the Australian shoppers, the top reason is price and availability. That said, Australia has a straightforward duty and tax system with a very high de-minimis level of AUS $1,000 making cross-border eCommerce simple and easy to understand for consumers (i.e. no hidden taxes).
While it sounds like a win / win for UK retailers to reach Australian consumers, the end-to-end cross-border process includes many fine details of currency conversions, payments and international promotions, etc. Also, something like compliance can be a surprise setback. Simply throwing a shipping label onto a package and sending to Australia may create issues from a customs perspective as well as customer perspective. Regulations of seemingly normal goods can be prohibited or restricted. Some goods such as firearms and certain categories of hazardous materials simply can’t be shipped anywhere.
Like many countries, Australia has strict restrictions on vegetable products – besides the obvious live plants and seeds – this can impact soap, some candles, and dental waxes. Restrictions also apply to articles of leather that are from endangered species (like alligator skin). Think saddlery, handbags, dog collars etc.
Retailers don’t need to be overwhelmed by the ever-growing list of export and import restrictions to which they have to adhere. By leveraging industry-leading experience and expertise in this area, retailers can not only manage the risks involved but truly seize the opportunities of cross-border commerce.