Fulfilling Into Other Countries

In the last piece, we talked about attracting orders from overseas or foreign territories. We looked at how Shopify themes can be translated into other languages using Shopify's Language Translation features and how to endear your business to those buyers from other places.

globes selling abroad

So an essential part of the process is to instil confidence to overseas buyers that the fulfilment process will work for them. To do this means you too must be confident that you have all the bases covered.

The ability to fulfil longer distances and in foreign territories will be affected by the type products you sell. Smaller products will be easier and less costly to ship than awkward shaped, heavier or bulkier ones. If your products are perishable, then that might limit the time in transit and the shipping method. If your products are fragile then the further the distance, the more likely they are to arrive damaged.

But having considered all these issues and concluding that your products are suitable - then how do you go about it?

Well, perhaps the first thing is to consider whether you need to send them directly at all? Supposing you could find someone else in the local territory that could fulfil for you? Perhaps that would avoid costly shipping expenses for the customer and make your product more attractive to them. Yes, you would make less margin but maybe give you increased sales volume. You could also offer to reciprocate for your fulfilment partner in your country – which would increase your sales.

If your products are commodities that are already available in those countries then perhaps it might be worth researching the suppliers there and see if they would value a reciprocal arrangement.

If your products are unique, then that won’t be possible. Consider shipping in bulk to a local distributor in those territories. That way your individual shipping costs to customers will be lower and if you highlight that fact in your product information, then again, customers will be more inclined to buy something that will be received more quickly and reliably.

Some apparel companies such as Red Bubble offer a huge range of products that are printed and shipped in the local countries from digital designs created centrally. They often use partners for this, and if you plan to do the same, it’s important to try to automate the communication and order processing with them as much as possible.

If none of the above routes work for you and your products, then you have to consider the best ways of shipping internationally. Using your own country’s postal service is the most obvious route but actually may not be the most cost-effective or efficient. Many of the international courier companies have very competitive package rates and a range of international hubs that will ensure much faster delivery.

The other factor you must consider is taxes and duties due in those countries. The issue does bear some consideration, and it’s worth checking out whether your products attract any import taxes in the countries to which you plan to ship. If they do, then it is likely that the customer that will pick up the cost of any taxes in the first instance when the product is delivered to their door. Although you may not consider this to be your problem, it will soon become so when your customers start complaining. So it’s much better to do your research and give clear guidance on your FAQ page. Some e-commerce providers just elect not to ship to countries where import taxes would be due on their products.

You can specify Shopify's Shipping settings in your store's admin area. Take a look here for Shopify Shipping Rates and Methods

If you are shipping to countries with free trade agreements or part of an economic union such as the EU then unless your products are very unusual, it’s likely that no taxes will be due.

So there are many ways to approach the selling and fulfilment of your products overseas and doing so successfully will add significantly to your business – wherever you are based.


We hope that you enjoyed this post and that you found it informative. Please feel free to comment below.

Also, did we mention our extremely popular responsive Shopify themes? Your shop has to look good when visitors come around :)