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4 Things to Know About International Shipping for eCommerce

Updated April 15, 2024

Key Takeaways
  • International eCommerce shipping involves the transportation of goods purchased online across borders.
  • Retailers utilize shipping services to deliver products to customers worldwide, facing challenges like customs regulations, varying shipping costs, and delivery timeframes.
  • To streamline operations, businesses often partner with international carriers and employ tracking systems.
  • Efficient logistics, transparent communication, and customer-friendly return policies are crucial for success.
  • As the global eCommerce market expands, optimizing shipping processes becomes pivotal to meeting customer expectations and fostering international trade relationships.

Challenges of eCommerce Shipping Internationally

Ship internationally with international e-CommerceToday’s fast-paced, web-driven world makes international eCommerce more accessible than ever before. Global sales are now a must for businesses who want to make an impact in the eCommerce world. For businesses like these, shipping is at the core of day-to-day operations.

Yet shipping overseas can be a challenge, particularly for smaller retailers. Before rolling out international options, eCommerce companies should carefully consider several factors when dealing with B2C and B2B shipping.


E-Commerce can ensure delivery duty paid

Costs and Currency with International Markets

Additional expenses are often required to ship overseas. Costs may include customs duties, increased shipping fees, tariffs, import tax, and so on. Customs duties are taxes on items that cross international borders. Additional taxes may be incurred based on product material, weight, or shipping cost. In some cases, a business may assume the tax costs associated with international shipping for eCommerce, while other businesses choose to pass these fees on to the consumer.

B2B and B2C eCommerce businesses may also want to consider exchange rates and currency when calculating prices. In some cases, changing the price based on differences across international markets may help make products more competitive within specific demographics. With the Clarity eCommerce™ platform, you can take international shipping expenses into account from the start.

Legal Considerations

Ensuring legal compliance is essential across all aspects of your organization, including shipping. Licensing is often necessary if a company intends to ship outside of the United States. Products over a certain dollar amount may require additional customs forms depending on each country’s specific import and export laws.

Additionally, some governments may not allow certain items into or out of their country. For example, Spain has certain restrictions on the import of playing cards. Disclaimer: If you are unsure about the legality of exporting your product, it is best to seek legal counsel.

Tracking and Delivery Time with Shippers

Ship products internationally with a custom international shipping process.

Many large shipping providers, like UPS, FedEx, and DHL have international shipping options. Yet depending on the country, your software may need to interface with smaller or local-level providers. Your product shipment may even be transferred between multiple carriers. For successful delivery, you’ll need eCommerce software with built-in options for delivery based on country.

Robust tracking options are also necessary to give you and your customers peace of mind regarding the location of delivery, especially since delivery may take longer than expected when shipping overseas. Clarity eCommerce™ provides robust shipping options for local and international shipping alike.

Customer Satisfaction

International transactions can often be confusing for the customer. How can SMBs and enterprises address the unique requirements of multinational businesses while also maintaining an excellent customer experience? Upfront communication with the customer is absolutely necessary.

When international customers purchase an item, any additional costs must be accurately calculated and clearly delineated to avoid confusion. Poor customer satisfaction can result from unexpected price hikes or from shipping delays, so make sure to state any contingencies up front and choose an eCommerce software platform with easy-to-use options for tracking and return. Backed by a team of developers, Clarity eCommerce™ allows you to create customer-oriented, multilingual solutions for international eCommerce.

The Benefits You're Looking For

Despite the challenges, it's important to remember just how lucrative shipping internationally can be. Expanding an eCommerce company's reach to ship internationally offers several significant benefits:

  1. Increased Market Potential: Access to a global customer base expands the market size beyond domestic boundaries.

  2. Diversified Revenue Streams: International shipping reduces dependence on local markets, allowing for revenue from diverse geographic regions.

  3. Competitive Advantage: Offering international shipping can differentiate the company from competitors and attract more customers.

  4. Brand Exposure: Shipping globally enhances brand visibility and recognition on an international scale.

  5. Seasonal Opportunities: International markets can provide year-round demand, offsetting seasonal fluctuations in domestic sales.

  6. Economies of Scale: Larger customer base can lead to increased production volumes, potentially reducing per-unit costs.

  7. Cultural Insights: Engaging with international customers provides valuable cultural insights, aiding in product customization and marketing strategies.

  8. Enhanced Customer Loyalty: Satisfying international customers can foster strong loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.

  9. Global Partnerships: Establishing international supply chain partnerships can lead to new business opportunities and collaborations.

  10. Market Expansion: Opens doors to new market segments and niche opportunities not available domestically. ECommerce international shipping might be eliminated completely in some markets if you open a warehouse in the new area.

International eCommerce shipping can be a strategic growth driver for eCommerce companies, facilitating expansion, revenue growth, and enhanced global brand presence. Shipping internationally just makes sense and might be the best low-hanging fruit when you're looking to increase your pool of online shoppers.

Clarity Can Help

A custom-built eCommerce platform can solve many international shipping issues with ERP or CRM shipping integration. Clarity eCommerce works not only across multiple languages but can accommodate currency calculation, international taxes, and regulatory or legal requirements.

Our developers have years of experience providing solutions to internationally focused clients for their eCommerce business. With Clarity eCommerce, you’ll be empowered to take your B2B or B2C business across the globe. Call or click today for a free quote.

Making International Shipping Easy

Expanding into international shipping is one of the most effective ways to increase sales, but do you have the tools to make it as efficient as possible? We can show you how it's done.

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Shipping internationally differs from domestic shipping in several key aspects:

  1. Customs Regulations: International shipments require adherence to diverse customs regulations, including documentation such as commercial invoices and certificates of origin.

  2. Tariffs and Duties: Import duties and taxes vary by country, impacting the overall cost of shipped goods. Understanding and accounting for these fees is essential.

  3. Cost of Shipping Internationally: International shipping involves higher costs due to longer distances, multiple carriers, and potential additional international shipment charges for customs.

  4. Delivery Timeframes: Extended transit times are common in international shipping, influenced by distance, customs processing, and varying transportation infrastructures.

  5. Carrier Options: Businesses must choose carriers with global reach and expertise in navigating international logistics to ensure reliable delivery.

  6. Address Formats: Varied address formats and languages necessitate accurate address labeling to prevent delivery issues.

  7. Packaging Compliance: Meeting packaging standards for different regions is crucial to prevent damage and ensure compliance with local regulations.

  8. Shipping Insurance: International shipments may require additional shipping insurance coverage to protect against loss, damage, or theft during transit.

  9. Returns and Refunds: Establishing clear international return policies is vital, considering the complexity and cost involved in returning products across borders.

  10. Communication and Tracking: Effective communication with customers, along with robust tracking systems, helps manage expectations and provides visibility into the shipping process.

Navigating these complexities demands meticulous planning and collaboration with experienced logistics partners to successfully engage in international eCommerce.


Yes, almost any business can ship internationally, but the feasibility and ease of international shipping depend on various factors, including the nature of the products, compliance with regulations, and the resources available. Small businesses and large enterprises alike engage in global commerce, leveraging the reach of the internet to tap into other markets. However, several considerations come into play:

  1. Product Legality: Some products may face restrictions or prohibitions in certain countries, and businesses must comply with international trade laws.

  2. Customs Compliance: International shipments require adherence to diverse customs regulations, necessitating proper documentation and understanding of local customs procedures.

  3. Logistical Infrastructure: The capability to manage and fund international shipping, including partnering with reliable carriers and ensuring efficient logistics, is essential.

  4. Market Research: Understanding the target market's preferences, cultural nuances, and demand for specific products is crucial for successful international sales.

  5. Technology and Resources: Utilizing eCommerce platforms, international payment gateways, and having the resources to handle customer service in different time zones contribute to seamless global operations.

While challenges exist, businesses of all sizes can enter the international market by addressing these factors strategically. Collaboration with experienced logistics partners and staying informed about global trade regulations are key steps toward successful international shipping for any business.


International shipping presents a myriad of challenges that businesses must navigate to ensure smooth cross-border operations. The following list outlines key challenges:

  1. Customs Clearance: Stringent customs regulations and documentation requirements vary by country, impacting the speed and efficiency of eCommerce international shipping.

  2. Tariffs and Duties: Import duties and taxes levied by destination countries contribute to the overall cost of shipped goods, affecting pricing strategies.

  3. Cost to Ship Internationally: International shipping involves higher expenses due to longer distances, multiple carriers, and potential additional charges, impacting profit margins.

  4. Logistics Complexity: Coordinating transportation across diverse infrastructures, time zones, and regulatory environments adds complexity to logistics management.

  5. Addressing Format: Differing address formats, languages, and local preferences necessitate accurate address labeling to prevent delivery issues.

  6. Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding cultural nuances and consumer behavior is crucial to market products effectively and provide satisfactory customer experiences.

  7. Risk of Damage or Loss: Longer transit times increase the risk of damage or loss during shipping, requiring robust packaging and insurance coverage.

  8. Payment and Currency Issues: Handling international transactions involves currency exchange rates, diverse payment methods, and potential financial complexities.

  9. Returns and Refunds: Managing international returns is intricate, requiring clear policies and effective coordination to handle product returns across borders.

  10. Communication Challenges: Language barriers, time zone differences, and varying communication preferences can hinder effective customer support and service.

  11. Political and Geopolitical Issues: Political instability and geopolitical tensions can disrupt shipping routes, leading to delays and uncertainties.

Addressing these challenges demands a comprehensive approach, including strategic planning, compliance adherence, and collaboration with experienced partners in international shipping and logistics. Businesses that successfully navigate these complexities can unlock the vast opportunities of global markets.


Successfully shipping internationally involves a series of strategic steps to overcome regulatory, logistical, and operational challenges. The following list outlines key steps for international shipping:

  1. Market Research:

    • Identify target international markets by assessing demand, competition, and regulatory environments.
  2. Product Compliance:

    • Ensure products comply with the regulations of the destination country, addressing any restrictions or prohibitions.
  3. Customs Documentation:

    • Prepare accurate and comprehensive customs documentation, including commercial invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin.
  4. Tariffs and Duties Calculation:

    • Calculate and communicate import duties and taxes to customers, addressing potential cost implications.
  5. Shipping Costs Evaluation:

    • Evaluate international shipping services, considering carrier rates, fuel surcharges, and potential additional international delivery charges for customs.
  6. Logistics Planning:

    • Collaborate with experienced logistics partners to plan transportation routes, considering distance, transportation modes, shipping labels, and potential delays.
  7. Packaging Compliance:

    • Ensure products are packaged securely and comply with international packaging standards to prevent damage during transit.
  8. Address Accuracy:

    • Use accurate and standardized shipping labels, accounting for variations in address formats across different countries.
  9. Insurance Coverage:

    • Consider obtaining insurance coverage to protect against potential loss, damage, or theft during shipping.
  10. Payment and Currency Handling:

    • Implement international payment gateways, account for currency exchange rates, and provide transparent pricing for customers.
  11. Communication Strategy:

    • Establish effective communication channels for customer inquiries, updates, and support, considering time zone differences.
  12. Returns Policy:

    • Develop a clear international returns policy, addressing the challenges of product returns across borders.
  13. Technology Integration:

    • Utilize eCommerce platforms with international capabilities, integrating technology for order tracking and customer communication.
  14. Legal Compliance:

    • Ensure legal compliance with international trade laws, intellectual property rights, and data protection regulations.

By meticulously addressing each step, businesses can enhance their international shipping capabilities, expand their market reach, and provide a seamless experience for customers across borders.


When shipping internationally, a delivery duty in international shipments refers to the customs duty or tax imposed by a country on goods being imported. It is the responsibility of the recipient—often the buyer—to pay this fee upon receiving the package.

The duty is calculated based on the declared value of the goods, shipping costs, and other relevant factors. This fee is distinct from shipping charges and is intended to cover the cost of customs processing and compliance. Understanding and accounting for delivery duties is crucial for both the sender, shipping service, and recipient to ensure a smooth cross-border transaction.

Failure to comply with these duties may result in delays, fines, or confiscation of the shipped items by customs authorities. Accurate documentation and transparency regarding the nature and value of the goods can help streamline the customs clearance process. When shipping internationally, it will also be important to consider international shipping insurance.


When you offer international shipping for eCommerce, you can provide numerous advantages for your company. It broadens the customer base, tapping into a global market and increasing potential sales. It also enhances the company's brand visibility and reputation on a global scale.

Offering shipping to international customers can enable businesses to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving eCommerce landscape. Here are key reasons why a company should consider the ability to ship internationally:

  1. Market Expansion: Accessing foreign markets opens up new opportunities and customer demographics, allowing for business growth.

  2. Increased Sales: Catering to a global audience increases the potential for higher sales volumes and revenue generation.

  3. Competitive Edge: Providing international shipping sets a business apart from competitors, attracting a wider range of customers.

  4. Brand Exposure: Shipping globally enhances brand visibility, creating awareness and attracting attention from diverse consumer groups.

  5. Diversification: Relying solely on domestic markets poses risks; international shipping diversifies a company's revenue streams and minimizes dependence on a single market.

  6. Global Trends: Adapting to global consumer preferences and staying updated on international market trends can fuel innovation and product development.

  7. Economies of Scale: Increased sales volumes through international shipping may lead to economies of scale, reducing per-unit costs and boosting overall profitability.

  8. Customer Loyalty: Offering international shipping builds trust and loyalty among existing customers, demonstrating a commitment to meeting diverse needs.

  9. Strategic Partnerships: Global expansion can facilitate partnerships with international distributors, manufacturers, or retailers, fostering strategic collaborations.

  10. Future-Proofing: Anticipating and adapting to the evolving nature of eCommerce on a global scale positions a company for long-term success in an interconnected world.

When you ship internationally, you open the door to more international customers. It's yet another way to improve the sales channels of your eCommerce business.

Still have questions? Chat with us on the bottom right corner of your screen #NotARobot

Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade.He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.

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