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Amplify Your International Ecommerce Growth Strategy

You’ve mastered the domestic market, you’re now noticing consistent traffic on your site from international IP addresses, and you’ve done the market research and know there’s demand for your product abroad. But expanding internationally is complex as you need to know how to market yourself to other countries, your shop needs to support international payments and languages, and most importantly, you need to plan how to give your new international customer the best purchase experience possible. Too often, this experience is complicated and expensive, largely due to the complications of shipping and customs.


In our past episodes we’ve lightly touched on shipping internationally, but did you know that duties and taxes aren’t part of your shipping rates and that they aren’t actually calculated by the carrier? You receive rates from a shipping partner, like ONELIVE, but duties and taxes are a whole other thing, and often, these fees are higher than your actual ship costs, so it’s paramount that you know what you’re dealing with and can calculate expenses and either adjust your product prices or your operation budgets accordingly.


Harmonized System & HS/HTS Codes


Duties and Taxes are calculated through different Industry Classification Systems, but to keep things simple, we’ll focus on the Harmonized System, which is administrated by the World Customs Organization, or WCO. The Harmonized System is an international classification system that’s used to classify physical products by assigning unique 6, 8, or 10-digit codes. These codes are called Harmonized System codes (HS codes) or Harmonized Tarrif Schedule codes (HTS codes), and allow customs authorities around the world to identify products accordingly and calculate duties and taxes. These numbers consist of three or four sections, separated by periods, with each section getting more descriptive of the product. (ex: personal clothing.t-shirt.white) Getting these codes correct is important for making sure your product doesn’t get held in transit and that duties and taxes are calculated properly.


There are plenty of online resources that can help you find your HS codes, but the second piece of that is then finding the set duties and taxes, calculating these for each product on your shop, and monitoring changes in customs and trade regulations. This is a lot of manual and time-consuming work and it’s difficult to get it all right, yet so important to your ability to expand internationally. That’s why at ONELIVE we have an incredible trade partner, Zonos, the #1 duty and tax technology, that decodes cross-border commerce and wildly simplifies the international shipping process all the way from the backend of your store to the customer receiving their product.


Zonos: The #1 Duty & Tax Technology


Zonos can classify your entire product catalogue with HS and HTS codes, which is done automatically when you connect Zonos to your shop, which we can help with. Zonos even has patent-pending technology that can classify your product, simply with an image. You just upload your image and it returns an HS code. How cool is that! Once Zonos has classified your products, the application can then calculate duties & taxes, quote your customers, and aide in the checkout process.


The Typical Customer Experience


Let’s imagine a sadly typical yet avoidable international purchase experience… Your customer places an order on your store and pays for the product and shipping. They excitedly monitor their shipment until it arrives. Upon arrival, the carrier, holding their package containing your cool product, presents your customer with a bill for duties and taxes that they must pay, before the carrier will hand over said package. The customer, surprised, frustrated, and disappointed, rejects the shipment. Then, you’re left with refunding the customer, paying for the original duties and taxes, plus the duties and taxes and shipping fees to return the product. That’s a lot of lost money on a single transaction, and this happens all the time. The experience is totally different when you have Zonos running on your shop.


The Zonos Customer Experience


With Zonos, the customer visits your website and Zonos tracks the ip address to convert currency and welcome them in their local language.  Then, as the customer adds a product to their store, a Zonos popup tells them exactly how much they can expect to pay in duties and taxes for that product.  Just like that, duties and taxes are demystified, and your customer can confidently continue to add products to their cart, knowing there won’t be any surprises.  When your customer is ready to check out, Zonos can also simplify that experience by showing the customer the total landed cost of their purchase and giving them the option to pay for duties and taxes up front, or pay later.  Either way, there is full transparency, so your customer knows exactly how much they’ll pay, no surprises.  If you want, you can also require that the customer pays for duties and taxes up front – this is customizable and totally up to you.  When the carrier comes to deliver the product the carrier simply hands it over and you have a happy customer.  Zonos is a complete game-changer when it comes to cross-border ecommerce and we are so enthusiastic about our partnership with them, which has been incredibly valuable our international sellers. 


Learn more!


Expanding your business internationally is both exciting and challenging, but here at ONELIVE we have the solutions and expertise to guide you through the entire process.  To learn more about selling internationally, or to learn about our exclusive discount with Zonos.


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