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Everything You Need to Know About Selling Internationally

By Nora Inveiss on May 27th, 2016 - Reading time: 4 minutes

When you run an online store, you’re not limited by location. Almost anybody can find you from anywhere – it doesn’t matter that they’re not located where you are. You can reach potential customers around the world, which is great for expanding your audience and fans.

But selling to customers in a different country comes with some extra responsibilities. There are things you have to consider when selling internationally that don’t apply to more local customers.

We’ll cover all of that here, so you can seamlessly sell to all of your customers, near and far. Learn about the information your international customers need to know, international shipping prices and speeds, and how currency works.

Your Target Market

The first thing you should do is understand your current customers and your target market. Do you already have a lot of orders coming in from customers abroad? Do you want to target more people abroad? Or maybe you’re located in a different country and want to tackle a new market?

If you have a limited amount of international orders or aren’t very interested in breaking into international markets, then the amount of time you should dedicate to accommodate international customers should be more limited.

Fulfilment Times

When you’re calculating how much time it’ll take for customers to receive their orders, there are two elements you need to consider: Printful’s fulfilment time, and shipping speed.

It can take anywhere between 2-7 business days for Printful to print apparel products, and 2-5 business days for non-apparel products. Most of our products are printed in 3 business days.

Then you have to calculate shipping speed on top of that. International orders have further to travel. So it may take longer for the order to get to your customer, depending on the carriers you offer and the method they choose.

In the age of Amazon 2-hour delivery, people expect they’ll get their products quickly. Savvy internet shoppers may already know they’ll have to wait a little longer to get their products ordered from far away. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to manage your customers’ expectations and be upfront with how long it’ll take.

Currency and Exchange Rate

You can set your store’s default currency to whatever you like. If most of your customers are located in Europe, then you can charge them in EUR.

However, Printful will always charge you in USD. So you’ll have to keep the exchange rate in mind. When setting prices, you should make sure they’re comparable for your home country’s market, but you should also be able to cover the conversion in USD.

If you use the push generator to add new products to your store, the price you enter will automatically convert 1:1. So if you set your retail price at 25.00 USD it’ll convert to 25.00 EUR, which isn’t a correct conversion. When you add the price in the push generator, add the converted amount in your currency. (Note: this is going to change soon, so expect an update).

Currency 1This is how you see the price on the push generator

Currency 2This is what you see in your store

If you sell products in a currency other than USD, Printful is required by law to list the total retail value on the package. So your packing slip will show the price in USD (unlike orders going to the US).

International Shipping

I already mentioned that international shipping takes longer, which impacts the time it takes for your customers to receive their orders. Here are a few more details you should know about international shipping.

Price

An unexpectedly high shipping price is a big reason for shopping cart abandonment. According to Statista, 56% of shoppers say that unexpected costs are the main reason they don’t go through with their purchase.

Worldwide shipping rates can be more expensive than domestic rates. This depends on whether you offer flat rates or live rates, what carriers you offer, and what method your customer chooses.

Flat rates remain fixed depending on the product category, quantity, and destination. You can find more detailed information here. If you’d like to learn the cost of flat rates for a specific product, then go to its product page and click on the “Shipping” tab.

If you offer live rates, shipping could be cheaper. Live rates calculate the shipping price for the carriers you choose based on the weight and destination. They’re only available for manual orders, Shopify Advanced plan users, WooCommerce Printful plugin users, and API users.

Tracking

If you use flat rates for your store, then we’ll automatically send your orders with the cheapest carrier available at the time of the order. For international orders, this will most likely be a slower, untracked shipping option. So if an order gets lost, there is no way to trace it.

Printful will reship orders that get lost in transit free of charge, but keep in mind this will delay the time it takes for customers to receive their orders.

If you offer live shipping rates, your customers will be able to choose which method they want to use. Here they’ll have the option of selecting a carrier with tracking. However, you should note that some carriers only offer tracking until the order reaches the destination country. Once it’s been accepted at the border, it doesn’t tell you exactly where it is in the country.

Take a look at this blog post, 5 Printful Policies Your Store Should Copy, to learn how to handle international orders with tracking that were lost in transit.

Address Formatting

It’s critical that the address on each order is correct and properly formatted. Otherwise the order might not make it. For example, postal codes for Canadian addresses must be uppercase, and there should be a space between the first three digits and the last three. Addresses must also be formatted in the Latin alphabet.

Customs Fees

Your international customers might have to pay customs fees when they receive their orders. This depends entirely on the destination country and it’s beyond Printful’s control. We can’t mark orders as gifts or undeclare the actual value.

The amount customers have to pay depends entirely on the destination country and their laws. Some countries wave customs fees on orders valued at less than a certain price. Some may charge extra handling fees. It all depends on your customer’s location.

Customers ordering from Canada can now ship with Int’l Economy Duties Paid. This carrier already covers the customs cost, it comes with tracking, and it’s an average of 2 days faster.

It’s a good idea to let your customers know that they may have to pay customs fees so there aren’t any bad surprises. You could write a disclaimer on the check-out page that this order may incur customs fees.

Reach Customers Near and Far

With an online store, the world is your oyster. Your customers can come from all around the globe. You just have to know what to do to make sure sales go smoothly.

How many of you get orders from international customers?

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