How to Overcome the Challenges of International Shipping in eCommerce

international shipping

As the eCommerce space keeps expanding, international shipping is a pivotal gateway for online retailers to reach a wider market. 

With the world at your customers’ fingertips, it’s easier to receive orders from your customers in Kenya while sipping your coffee somewhere in North America. 

However, this comes with many challenges, which can deter you from exploring the full potential of your eCommerce business.

In this blog post, we explore the challenges of international shipping in eCommerce and unveil strategies you can use to overcome these multifaceted challenges. 

Challenges of International Shipping in eCommerce

Small eCommerce businesses face common challenges with international shipping, significantly impacting their performance.

Some of them include:

1. Customs and Import/Export Regulations

International shipping involves navigating a complex web of customs and import/export regulations. 

These regulations vary from country to country and can impact the movement of goods. They can also lead to delays and fines if improperly adhered to.

2. Shipping Costs and Pricing Strategies

Determining shipping costs and developing competitive pricing strategies for international customers can be challenging. 

Setting high shipping costs can scare away potential buyers, while setting low prices can see you running at a loss.

It requires careful calculation to set the right prices to cover expenses without deterring sales.

3. Delivery Times and Logistics Complexities

International shipments often take longer delivery times due to distance and customs processes. 

Logistics complexities, such as coordinating multiple carriers and addressing potential delays, can affect customer satisfaction. 

4. Currency Exchange and Payment Issues

Dealing with multiple currencies and payment methods can also pose a significant challenge. 

This is because exchange rates fluctuate, which can affect your customers’ final cost of products. 

It also adds an extra layer of complexity to financial transactions. 

5. Language and Cultural Barriers

Effective communication is vital when dealing with international customers. 

However, language barriers can lead to misunderstandings, while cultural differences can impact customer preferences. 

This can affect the overall shopping experience for international customers.

Strategies for Overcoming International Shipping Challenges

Want to overcome the challenges of international shipping and run your business smoothly? 

Here are some effective strategies to implement:

1. Comprehensive Research and Planning

Start by conducting proper research to understand your target market and its regulations.

For instance, if you’re shipping to Kenya, understand their customs regulations, tax policies, and import/export requirements.

You can utilize government websites, consult industry experts, and consider market-specific factors like demand, competition, and cultural preferences.

2. Partnering with Local and International Couriers

Partnering with international and local courier services can help you overcome shipping challenges.

International couriers like DHL and FedEx have the expertise to navigate customs procedures and handle international shipments efficiently.

They can help you boost customer satisfaction through faster clearance and reduced shipping delays.

Local couriers like Codirect Courier can also help you with last-mile delivery in Kenya, ensuring your customers receive their goods at their doorstep without further delay.

3. Efficient Inventory Management

Efficient management of inventory can significantly impact shipping costs and delays. Keeping the right amount of stock at the right locations is crucial at all times.

Implement strategies like demand forecasting and just-in-time inventory, and partner with regional fulfillment centers to help you deliver goods faster.

Inventory management software and automation tools can also help you track your stock levels more accurately and efficiently.

4. Transparent Pricing and Shipping Policies

Transparency in pricing and shipping policies helps to build trust with international customers. This reduces cart abandonment rates and increases conversions for your business.

When setting prices, research competitors’ pricing and consider offering bulk shipping discounts. 

Also, clearly communicate additional fees or taxes during checkout so customers can understand why they are paying a certain price.

5. Multilingual Customer Support

Multilingual customer support is the solution for overcoming language barriers and enhancing the customer experience.

If you ship to a country that speaks a foreign language, consider employing multilingual customer support agents.

Additionally, you can offer translated product descriptions and FAQs and make your website accessible in multiple languages for all customers to understand the information.

Tools and Resources for International Shipping

Here are some tools and resources that can help you overcome international shipping challenges in your eCommerce business:

1. Shipping Software Solutions

Shipping software solutions like ShipStation provide a comprehensive platform that integrates with various eCommerce platforms and offers international shipping support.

Shippo also provides an API and web application for managing international shipping rates, labels, and tracking. 

2. Currency Conversion and Payment Solutions is a reliable currency conversion website that can help you manage foreign exchange rates.

When it comes to payment processing, PayPal and Stripe support multiple currencies and facilitate international transactions with ease.

3. Global Shipping Carriers

Partner with established global couriers like DHL, FedEx, UPS, and USPS, which have international shipping expertise and various shipping options.

4. Ecommerce Platforms with International Support

Build your online store on popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, which offer international shipping and currency conversion features.

5. Freight Forwarders and Logistics Companies 

International logistics companies like Flexport, C.H. Robinson, and Kuehne + Nagel can provide end-to-end shipping solutions, including customs clearance, to make your work easier.

6. International Shipping Calculators

Use online tools like FedEx International Shipping Calculator and DHL Global Forwarding Quote Tool to estimate shipping costs for international shipments.


International shipping is an inevitable growth opportunity for all online retailers. Though it’s full of challenges, you can implement the solutions discussed in this article to help you navigate. 

Once you’ve overcome the challenges and established your ground, you’ll see your business grow at a rate you never thought.

Remember to partner with international and local order fulfillment service providers to make work easier.

If you ship to customers in Kenya, Codirect Courier is a local ecommerce fulfillment company that can relieve you of the burden of last-mile delivery, warehousing, pick-pack fulfillment, and more.

Contact us today, and let’s make your customers in Kenya happier!

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