Shipping for an eCommerce store can not only be a headache, it can be costly and time consuming as well. When you start expanding the idea of shipping from a national level to an international level – it only becomes more convoluted.
Traditionally, small businesses will not even bother with international shipping. It’s too complicated, and the shipping and handling fees are too exorbitant. Taxes are levied on both sides, and setting up an international shipping method incurs the additional cost of development on your eCommerce website.
If you do decide to start shipping internationally, your shipping solution on your website should be able to answer each one of the following concerns. You’ll also want to be certain that your developer can finalize the integration with your shipping company, and that the challenges below don’t fall through the cracks.
- How will your eCommerce store know which orders are international orders?
- How should orders that have partial shipments, be handled? For instance, if a customer orders several products, but you’re sending them out one at a time, when will the customer be charged for the shipping total? When will you be charged for the handling total?
- How will your shipping information be sent to your shipping company? (Bear in mind, this will likely be the most time consuming part of your integration process.)
- And finally, how can you keep track of which shipments have already been created with your shipping company?
One shipping company we had the pleasure to work with recently, was Pitney Bowes, a company that offers international shipping rates, duty fees, and logistics for Magento stores. Their on-hand team worked very well with our development staff, offering advice and solutions as we solidified the integration on our end. Each one of the above four concerns were answered and we were able to finalize the integration without too much of a struggle. While there is always some measure of custom code that needs to be created during these integration processes, this process worked well for both of our companies, and we’d strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a new international shipping component to their website.
ClearPath is defined by its classification system that can update product information as changes occur in real time. One of its key strengths include the fact that stock information, pricing, and even prohibited goods are all being tracked and monitored at every time. If a customer from a country, or territory, that does not accept certain shipments requests a product on that ‘black-list’ ClearPath will block the transaction and keep it from going through. International laws and regulations are strictly maintained, and it provides peace of mind for the business owner as they expand their global market.
The overall expense of using the ClearPath engine is reasonable in regards to its features. You would pay for the shipping and handling services on a package by package basis, rather than a set fee that may be exorberant for your needs. Your customers will also be able to take advantage of ClearPath’s predictive analytics models that generate guaranteed duty, tax, and shipping costs into the checkout process. With a precise algorithm, Pitney Bowes guarantees that the fees that your customers will pay are the exact fees and not estimates that will cost you and your customer additional. This also includes currency exchange rates and payment requirements.
With any shipping extension that you’re installing onto your eCommerce store, you will need to insure there’s a solidified integration between your store and the company that is generating your shipping data. As Pitney Bowes generates your shipping information for you, and can ship your products from one of their warehouses, your developer will be able to work with them exclusively to set your store up appropriately.
For Pitney Bowes specifically, before you decide whether or not to get involved their integration, be sure to keep the following two items in mind.
- If you’re using AvaTax (the Avalara automated sales tax software), there was a bug that caused some of the code to not line up properly. Pitney Bowes did create a patch to fix this, but do keep this in mind prior to moving forwards so you can save yourself the time and effort of debugging it on your own.
- Pitney Bowes has very strict formatting requirements. Ensure that your developer, or whoever is working on your integration, is fully aware of what those formatting requirements are, and how they need to be set up.
Overall, working with Pitney Bowes is a good experience. Our contact at Pitney Bowes, made sure that all of our questions were answered. He also checked in with us on a regular basis to make sure that we weren’t running into any problems. They are able to provide detailed documentation throughout their process, are quick to respond to emails, and will answer technical questions in a manner that’s easy to understand. Any errors that you find on your side of the integration, however, is not something they can help you service. Be certain your developer or agency can handle those issues on their own.
We’ll put up a tutorial on our support portal shortly, going over how to address the concerns we noted above. This will have more technical detail and directly respond to any questions you may have in how to make your integration work properly.
If you have any questions about the Pitney Bowes- Magento integration, feel free to let us know.