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International eCommerce

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  • International eCommerce

    I am exploring expanding beyond the US and was interested in any resources (ie, websites) you my use to educate yourself on international ecommerce.

    I found a few threads on prepaid duty and such, but was interested in getting more educated before I jump in.

    I plan on focusing on the UK, only for starts.

    As far as things I think I need to be concerned about:
    • Currency. I will use US Dollars, only unless someone knows of a 3dCart feature to have dual currency.
    • Taxes. Can I treat this just like an out of state tax in the US where the buyer needs to deal with it?
    • Duty. Clueless on this one.
    • Brokerage. Ditto
    • Shipping. I started exploring shipping and UPS is very expensive to the UK. I'm thinkig about using USPS. Other options? Any thing specific to worry about?
    • Customs. I haven't dug into USPS' site yet, so maybe there is detail on this there. Any big issues?
    • Other. Any other big ones I missed?

    Thanks, much

  • #2
    I've sold internationally for years and have had very few problems.

    I only take US currency. The customer either has to send me a money order in US funds (Canada can do that) - or they have to pay via credit card or Paypal.

    I state very clearly that any taxes, customs fees etc are the customer's responsibility. A couple of times I have had people complain that they get hit with large customs charges. It is usually from someone who hasn't bought from the US before.

    I use the US Post office - but my items are very small - usually under less than 2 pounds, often under 1 pound.

    I make it clear that insurance is NOT available for international orders and refunds will not be made for lost or damaged items.

    Never ship to Nigeria - period.

    I ship to

    Italy (this is one of the less 'reliable' shipping countries. I haven't had many problems but if you read posts on other sites there are a lot of complaints.

    United Kingdom
    Saudi Arabia (one package was 'lost' after it already arrived in Saudi Arabia - otherwise I've sent many packages there without incident)
    South Korea
    New Zealand

    I used to ship to one customer in Mexico but she hasn't ordered for a long time. Mexico is very risky. There are only certain cities the US post office will even deliver to with an Express package. I don't ship there anymore.

    Taxes, Duty, Customs, Brokerage (don't know what that is) - That's the customer's issue.

    Insurance - if you're items are expensive then you might want to check with other carriers than USPS - they usuallly don't even offer insurance. Not sure what the other carriers do.

    Good luck. International is riskier in my opinion - but I've got some very loyal international customers that make many repeat purchases.
    C Ekman
    Owner/Designer: Cobweb Corner


    • #3
      Thanks cekman for your very informative response!!

      Given price and what seems like convenience, I will probably use USPS for shipping.

      A couple of quick questions:
      • Do you need to do any special customs forms?
      • Did you set up anything special in shipping methods (ie, seperate international methods)?
      • Does the USPS API work ok for international addresses?

      Sorry for all the questions. This is a big unknown for me. My first boss (former Vietnam Green Beret) drilled into my head to be very concerned about the "unknown unknowns". This is where you don't know what you don't know.

      Thanks, again!!


      • #4
        Yes - you do need to fill out customs forms. I use - and they are created for me when I create the shipping label. You will have to check with the post office to see exactly what you need to do - but they are required for International orders and APO orders.

        Yes - I created separate shipping methods for international orders and yes you can use the USPS API for them.

        You will also need to go into your store settings and define the countries you will ship to.
        C Ekman
        Owner/Designer: Cobweb Corner