Simon Horton of ecommerce store plugin software specialist ShopIntegrator looks at how Three Legs Cycling grew its overseas sales to over 50 countries
Three Legs Cycling sells indoor cycle training DVDs and digital video downloads, as well as its own branded cycling apparel. The business is run by Peter Kennaugh, father of Pete Kennaugh, the British 2012 Olympic gold medal winner. Through his connections, Peter Senior has created a series of indoor training sessions featuring his son, Steve Joughin, Mark Cavendish and other world class professional riders.
Peter Kennaugh Senior: “Dispatch times for overseas orders can be a real issue. The key is communication with customers, so they are aware of the longer delivery times. We offer free worldwide shipping and that’s made a big difference, as customers are fine with something taking longer to reach them when delivery is free. The more people we can reach with our training products around the world, the better.”
Having an order processing workflow tool built into the ecommerce platform means it’s quick to send an email update to the customer. At each stage of the delivery preparation and dispatch process customers are kept informed of what’s going on.
Merchants selling larger product volumes might consider a third party fulfilment company to manage the logistics of stock in different geographic locations. Items can then be dispatched to the customer from the nearest warehouse, speeding up global delivery times.
PK: “We saw a significant increase in international sales after enabling multicurrency pricing for our online shop.”
International visitors feel more comfortable shopping in their own currency, so check if your ecommerce platform supports multiple currencies. They’ll avoid paying exchange rates on their purchases, which otherwise skew the real cost of buying from you and puts people off.
PK: “Offering customers the choice of buying our training DVDs as digital downloads boosted international sales, as it gave them immediate access to the training session instead of waiting for the post. The automated download system works fantastically well and we rarely have any issues.”
A third party download solution takes the hassle out of managing the secure storage and delivery of your digital products. A scalable digital download service using a global content delivery network ensures buyers receive a fast download wherever they are in the world.
Selling large video downloads often rules out many digital sales platforms due to limitations on maximum file sizes. Establish any limitations upfront and assess these against your needs.
PK: “In the future we’d like to tap into all global markets and help many more people with their cycle training by making our training sessions and website multilingual. Our shopping cart software already supports six different languages in the store front, so when we’re ready to take the next step our ecommerce software is already capable of supporting this expansion.”
English will be a second language to many foreign visitors. However, cart abandonment rates increase when a customer doesn’t understand something in the checkout. Offering a native language online store removes these language barriers, thus increasing conversions.
VAT and export duties
Ecommerce makes the sale of British goods abroad much easier, but adds greater complexity to your tax arrangements.
Shipping goods outside the EU requires you to attach a customs declaration form to the package (form CN22 or CN23) declaring the value and type of goods. The buyer is then liable to pay any country specific import duties when the item arrives.
Annual sales exceeding £81,000 requires UK VAT registration. On January 1, 2015 new EU regulations affect the sale of digital products and automated online services. Even if sales are below the VAT threshold, you’ll need to become VAT registered and charge tax at the rate of each country you’re selling to instead of the UK VAT rate as it is now. All digital sales will need to be accounted for using the new centralised EU VAT Mini One Stop Shop system.
Increasing your sales abroad brings new challenges, but has the potential to make a big difference to your bottom line.