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The majority of challenges retailers face in cross-border ecommerce are related to logistics, with a poll of retailers showing the top concerns faced when looking to ship internationally:

  • Navigating customs compliance: 51% of retailers said this was a challenge

  • Tracking deliveries across borders: 46%

  • Managing delivery expectations: 43%

  • Cross-border logistics: 30%

  • Cross-border returns: 24%

With the above in mind, it’s important to consider how to resolve these issues when shipping internationally.

Customs, tariffs and taxes

The process of sending (and returning) goods overseas is more complicated than shipping domestically. Especially as each country and region is likely to have its own customs, tariffs and taxes on goods sold outside its borders and imported into them.  One of the biggest issues is VAT compliance when trading cross-border. With some 800,000 online stores in Europe alone, it pays to find out what VAT rules apply to countries and regions you are looking to do business in. 


Returns are just as important and key as delivery. A lot of your customers may not want to keep your products so it’s important you manage your returns procedures and use third-party platforms such as carriers to bring goods back the other way.

Delivery times

The cost of cross-border shipping is a big pain point for retailers. The faster you want to send your product to a customer, the more that costs. Therefore it’s vital you have an effective and reliable logistics setup and strategy.

Cross border delivery journeys tend to involve multiple logistics partners for each leg of the journey. As such, delivery times are uncertain due to potential delays at different depots and at customs.

Therefore, ensure your customers are kept in the loop with proactive updates on the delivery’s journey, make sure your logistics back-end supports detailed logistics reporting across multiple carriers and evaluate the standard of customer service provided by your logistics carriers.


Brexit is likely to shake up all of the above. So keep up to date on a host of Government and EU VAT websites, including the European Commission or Web Retailer, as well as this free VAT checker.


As the internet continues to become the shopping platform of choice for consumers, retailers cannot afford to become complacent about the role that cross-border trade management plays as part of their ecommerce strategy. 

Despite the prospect of cross-border delivery being daunting to many, the opportunities are also huge for your business. So hopefully the advice above will have motivated you to confront the challenge of mastering cross-border online delivery and taking your business to the next level.

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Read Next Chapter: Distance Selling Regulations

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Read Next Chapter: Distance Selling Regulations

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