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Top four reasons why online retailers struggle to sell internationally

Christina Trocco

November 23, 2019

Top four reasons why online retailers struggle to sell internationally

Top four reasons why online retailers struggle to sell internationally

Are you an online retailer pulling your hair out over international orders? You're not alone! The top four reasons why online retailers struggle to sell internationally include:

  • Calculating duty and taxes
  • Managing country rules and regulations
  • Offering shipping options
  • Localizing your store's website

With 95% of the world's consumers living outside the US, you can't let these reasons stop you from going global. In this post, we'll break down these four areas in more detail and how anyone can easily overcome them with Zonos.

1. Calculating duty and taxes 

When it comes to international orders, businesses spend a lot of time manually quoting duty and tax. Time equals money, so why bother if the amount of effort cancels out the potential profits? To make matters worse, retailers have to figure out the total landed cost (the sum of duty, tax, and other fees). Due to hidden costs and the inability to collect duties and taxes at checkout, international customers are more likely to refuse packages at the doorstep.

Calculating landed cost is necessary to running a successful international business. Surely, there's a better way to save both time and money.

How to overcome it:

You no longer have to manually quote duties and taxes!

Zonos offers the technology to automate duty and tax calculations as well as other fees that make up a total landed cost; we're also the most accurate and transparent in the industry. Customers can finally get full transparency at checkout, preventing any surprises upon delivery. That means less refused packages and angry customers. Check out our Landed Cost products.

2. Managing country rules and regulations 

Another major headache with selling internationally is dealing with the risks involved. This includes fraud, consumer privacy protection laws, country restricted items, and taxation laws. Because all these regulatory and logistical rules are constantly changing and vary so much from country to country, many retailers are more comfortable sticking with domestic.

According to a survey from Statista on the majority of challenges retailers face in cross-border ecommerce, 51% said "navigating customs compliance." How much of your time gets taken up trying to understand and keep up with global compliance instead of actually focusing on your business?

How to overcome it:

You don't have to be an expert on international to start doing business overseas.

Zonos has a team of decoders that stays current on global regulations to help you navigate the muddy waters of international commerce. Zonos Checkout technology features intelligent filters to automatically notify customers of restricted items and fraud screening to minimize risk.

3. Offering shipping options 

Many businesses don't offer multiple shipping options because they are generally tied to a shipping consolidator that controls the freight. The problem is that customers are less likely to make a purchase when they see limited shipping options. Shipping cost is one of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment. That's why showing more than one shipping option at checkout or offering a low-cost option is important.

Shipping subsidization also causes inaccurate rates that you end up paying for later, ultimately killing your profits. It is important to strike a balance and make sure you choose carriers that are right for your business.

How to overcome it:

Stop using a global ecommerce solution that forces you to use their shipping options.

Zonos is carrier-agnostic and multi-carrier. This means businesses can use as many carriers as they want and offer as many shipping options and service levels as they desire. You also have the ability to collect duties and taxes at checkout (customers prepay so you can ship DDP), increasing cash flow and your AOV (average order value).

4. Localizing your store's website 

Customers outside your borders want and expect to shop in their currency when they visit a store's website. Stats from Shopify show the majority of shoppers actually prefer to shop and complete purchases on websites showing prices in their local currency; plus one-third of them are more likely to "abandon a purchase" if pricing is only shown in USD.

Customers also immediately check to see if you ship to their country. Imagine being a foreign shopper spending extra time just digging around the site for an FAQ about international shipping. Chances are, if they can't find it, they will bounce. Generally, what all this means is you would have to build a localized website for each individual country that you ship to. That's a lot of work and development time!

How to overcome it:

You don't need to build a website for each country.

Zonos offers localization and currency conversion without the need to build multiple websites for each country. Zonos Hello greets your customers in their language when they arrive on your site and show them the duties and taxes to expect in their currency as they add items to their cart.


Zonos is a technology company born from the struggles of selling internationally.

With global ecommerce opportunities on the rise, it's more important than ever for online retailers to have an effective international ecommerce strategy that goes beyond a single shipping or translation solution. Zonos has the right tools to create transparency and accurately calculate total landed cost for international customers.

Contact us to learn more about Zonos and our mission to create trust in global trade.


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