ShopSite Tip – Don’t Neglect Your International Customers

globeWhen offering products to customers outside the United States, US based merchants using ShopSite have to adjust a few settings to avoid confusing and/or alienating overseas buyers. Here are a few tips to help with customizing your ShopSite store (or any ecommerce store) for international selling.

Sales Tax

Don’t forget to set the default country for sales tax to the United States if your store uses the zip code to determine sales tax. If you do not do this, an international postal code that matches one of your defined US based zip code ranges will be hit with US based sales tax. This is set in the ShopSite backoffice under:
Commerce Setup -> Tax -> Configure

Zip / Postal Code

Many overseas shoppers may not be familiar with the term “zip code”. To be more “international friendly”, change this text to something like “Zip / Postal Code” so customers from other countries will know what this means.

Don’t forget that the zip code on the cart page is the Shipping zip code, so include the word “shipping” in this text.

Shipping Options

Many customers will not read the shipping text closely when they choose their desired shipping option. In fact, they will likely choose the least expensive method. If you are using built-in shipping options in ShopSite like shipping by weight, shipping by currency, etc…, they will appear for all customers regardless of their shipping destination. In this case, you can use JavaScript to restrict certain options from being selected.

LexiConn offers a free Custom Shipping Module for ShopSite that allows you to have static shipping tables but restrict shipping methods to specific countries or states. This gets around the limitation of the static built-in shipping offerings in ShopSite.

You may want to consider using only real-time shipping rates based off the zip code and country of the customer so only applicable options are returned to each specific customer.

Lastly, make sure your overseas shipping options have an indication of the time it will take for products to arrive. Shipping times vary wildly when it comes to delivery in other countries.

List of States

The default list of states in ShopSite that a customer can select from on the checkout page are not helpful for international clients. They only contain US based and Canadian states/provinces. This can confuse many overseas shoppers, and cause them to look elsewhere.

Luckily there’s a simple solution. In the ShopSite backoffice under:
Commerce Setup -> State and Country

you can actually type additional entries in the state dropdown box. You can add a selection near the top such as:

  • None;NA
  • N/A;NA
  • International;NA

The “;NA” part is important as this assigns a 2 letter code to the option. This will allow international customers to choose an appropriate option for the “State” field during checkout.

List of Countries

If you only do business with a handful of countries, make sure your list of countries selected only includes this small group. If you do not restrict where you will ship, make sure you add the entire list in the backoffice.

International Ordering Policies

If you do ship overseas, you should have clearly defined policies for international ordering. Make sure this policy page is easy to find and prominent on your site and in the cart. If you only ship to certain countries, list that on this policy page. Having a clear, concise policy for overseas buyers will cut down on confusion and extra emails / calls about why they cannot order from your website.

Anything I’m missing? Please comment below.

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  1. Helen says:

    I don’t have the option where I can set the shipping charges by weight and destination. Only one of feature is available, so I chose weight and now customers have to choose the shipping options of by their own which of course not reliable. most of the customers chose the cheapest option which is to CANADA. That is where the store location is from. Could you please help! How can I make the store charges by destination and weight as well? Thanks. here is the website:

    • Helen,

      By default, ShopSite’s shipping by weight feature does not allow you to restrict options by country/destination. I see you’re using ShopSite Starter, so your options are quite limited. With Starter there is no way to achieve this.

      If you upgrade to ShopSite Manager, you could use real-time shipping from UPS, FedEx, and/or USPS for country specific options.

      If you upgrade to ShopSite Pro, you can then use JavaScript to restrict shipping options by weight:

      With Pro, you can also have a shipping API to perform this level of restriction. We actually offer a shipping API to our ShopSite Pro hosting clients that is quite configurable:

      But with ShopSite Starter which you have right now, you cannot do much in terms of restricting shipping options based on the country selected by the shopper.

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