Generally speaking, the leading international cart software solutions provide similar functionality. Clicking on an “International Checkout” button or, in some cases, simply by entering a foreign “ship-to” country, identifies the customer as an interna- tional customer. The contents of the retailer’s shopping cart are then sent to the international cart provider’s secure server. This is where the customer is presented with a series of “branded” international checkout pages that allows the customer to select the destination country, international shipping options, preferred currency, and payment method. The customer is then provided the total guaranteed landed cost for their order (including international transportation costs and any applicable duties and taxes, etc.). Once the order is completed, the order information is sent back to the retailer’s order-management system.
The cart supplier will also maintain and update daily exchange rates and automati- cally convert merchandise pricing during the purchasing process.
Inventory management: Depending on the volume of Canadian parcels, the cost of inbound transportation, and other order-related characteristics, (e.g., unique sizing, language-specific collateral, etc.), the retailer will have to determine whether to maintain a separate inventory for its Canadian orders. Furthermore, they will need to determine whether to ship individual consumer parcels either directly into Canada or, to ship inventory in bulk to Canada for subsequent shipment to Canadian customers.
Transportation/logistics: For those retailers who do not intend to develop a Canadian distribution operation, they must fulfill customer orders from outside of Canada. The cost associated with international parcel delivery typically will exceed all of the other operating costs combined. That fact, combined with the time to deliver the order to the customer, will in large part determine the operating approach to be employed and quite possibly the potential viability of the expansion itself.
Basically, the retailer has two shipping options from outside the country. The most common alternative would be to use an international logistics partner to provide logistics and transportation support into Canada. The key facts to consider when evaluating international logistics partners are as follows:
Use logistics partners with local market expertise and developed trade lanes that will offer lower costs with faster delivery.
Confirm that your logistics partner uses one of the leading Canadian transporta- tion carriers for the “last mile” to the customer’s door.
Look for continuity in customs clearance relationships from your partner; estab- lished, consistent relationships will facilitate injection across the border.
Determine if the supplier does not provide direct shipping to Canada. Instead, employ a two-step shipping process. The Canadian customer order is first shipped from the retailer’s distribution center to the service provider’s domestic consolidation center. At the consolidation center, the Canadian shipping paper- work is produced and attached to the package. The contents of the package are then put through a quality-control process. Finally, the package is shipped to the destination country.
Visa e-commerce cross-border handbook for U.S. retailers
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