5 Common International Shipping Mistakes

11 November, 2019


E-commerce has allowed many businesses to have an international presence. But with a growing global market, you also have a responsibility to ship and deliver according to the expectations of your customer – which these days, are pretty high.

Mistakes are costly. Lost, damaged or undeliverable stock soon adds up. On the flip side, you also have disgruntled customers who will no longer trust your brand. So, if you’re looking to succeed as an international retailer, check out these common mistakes and make sure that avoid them.


Mistake #1: Bad timing

Timing is everything.

If you are unable to closely estimate how long it will take for your international customer to receive the goods, you may end up disappointing them. So, be clear about your shipping times on your website to manage customer expectations and choose a shipping provider and service that is acceptable.

It is best practice to provide a range of international shipping options to customers, as their needs will change depending on their circumstances. For example, if they’re buying a last-minute gift they may choose to pay a premium for a faster service, but if they’re purchasing something of low value that they’re happy to wait longer for, they’ll expect to be able to choose an economy delivery option.

Leading international shipping companies will not only offer a choice of services, they will closely monitor their shipping times to all destinations and should be able to give you statistics on how often they hit their delivery aims. In addition to prices, this should be a key determining factor when choosing international shipping suppliers.

Shipping rates can be variable from month to month due to fuel surcharges, not to mention the multitude of policy changes that affect how items are transported across borders. Make sure that your international parcel shipping supplier offers transparent pricing and keeps you updated on rules and regulations.


Mistake #2: Insurance

As with everything in life, there are no guarantees. Although your shipments might not necessarily encounter Captain Jack Sparrow, modern piracy is still in operation, not to mention the weather-related issues that could damage your products in transit or other opportunities for theft and damage which may arise at any stage of the delivery process.

So, if your goods are of higher value, give yourself and your customers the peace of mind that your shipments are insured. Check that your international courier services have an insurance policy which covers your particular cargo before agreeing to use their services.

However, insurance does come at a cost. If your items are of lower value and margins are tight, you should be able to rely on a postal service. This often does not offer insurance but reliability is still high in most countries, and if a very small percentage of items are affected, the loss could be worth swallowing compared to the cost of insuring all parcels.


Mistake #3: Getting your dimensions wrong

Wrongly estimating the weight of your shipment can be a big stumbling block. You may have misquoted the client and now have to transfer and ever greater cost to them – never a pleasant surprise.

Measure the weight of your products before and after packaging. Speak to your international courier regarding the best measuring techniques and ensure that you are quoting appropriately. Another element to look into here is how your packaging affects the size, shape and weight of the package. Again, this is something an experienced international courier will be able to advise you on the best kind of packaging for your particular item.

In days gone by, businesses would do a lot of manual data entering when making shipments. As more and orders start coming in, you will need to be processing shipping labels at a higher-speed, leaving lots of room for errors if you are still relying on old methods of doing this.

Many e-commerce platforms now offer label generating tools to help you automate the process and ensure accuracy. There is nothing more awkward for your customer service attendants than to receive a call from a customer inquiring about their package, only to see that there is a labelling discrepancy. Prevent errors by automating your shipping process – you’ll never look back.


Mistake #4: Relying on inexperienced shipping companies

We get it, international distribution can significantly affect your overheads. To serve your cross-border clients, you need to be as frugal as possible to make sure that your product is still affordable in their country. However, it’s crucial that you don’t feel tempted to use the services of an international shipment company that has little experience delivering to your desired destination.

So many components come into play when you ship globally. Your international courier has to have experience in customs clearing and delivering to the specific country you are targeting.


Mistake #5: A surprise returns policy

Most customers will check out your international returns policy. So don’t keep yours a secret. Have a clear and transparent policy that reassures your international customers about the returns options available to them. Admittedly, this can often be the most challenging part for international e-commerce traders to get right Asendia offers a full range of returns management services for its clients. We can track, receive and check the content of your returns to help you handle resolutions more efficiently, keeping the customer’s experience at the heart of the transaction.

There is nothing more disappointing for a customer than to receive damaged goods and then be forced to pay for the return or face a long drawn out process of getting the item back to you. Don’t make your returns policy an unpleasant surprise.


Expanding internationally is a learning curve for all businesses. But you can eliminate unnecessary growing pains by making sure that your shipping is set up to operate smoothly. To do this, you need a reliable and experienced international shipping partner. Visit Asendia’s website and have a look at our range of comprehensive services to see whether we are the right fit for your business. Our experts work hard to ensure that your deliveries and returns are fulfilled correctly, helping you to focus on the important stuff, like growing your business. Because who’s got time to troubleshoot all day?

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