A brief overview of executing orders and providing follow through and after-sales service when selling goods and services overseas. This information is taken from "A Basic Guide to Exporting" provided by the U.S. Commercial Service to assist U.S. companies in exporting.
Last Published: 10/20/2016

Give your online orders similar treatment as your offline orders—be knowledgeable about the topics discussed in earlier chapters, as well as payment modes and terms, shipping and pricing, customer service, and taxation.

Payment Modes and Terms
Companies that use the Internet to reach overseas customers frequently use their website to process orders and accept payments. Since payment practices vary from country to country, it is important to identify and incorporate the prevalent payment mechanisms into the order-processing component of the website.

Credit Cards
For B2C transactions, many overseas customers use credit cards for online purchases; credit cards, however, are not a universally chosen method of online payment. To offer credit card payment services, a company must establish a credit card merchant account with a bank. The bank will process the transactions in exchange for a fee. Companies should compare the fee structures of banks to determine which would work best for the size and number of transactions expected. The transactions may be fast, but credit cards carry their own risks. Charge backs can be very costly for online exporters. Common charge back reasons are fraud, dispute over the quality of merchandise, non-receipt of merchandise, or incorrect amount charged to the card. If your company accepts online credit card transactions, you should be knowledgeable about the credit card issuers and your bank’s policies toward charge backs and how to avoid them.

Account-to-Account Transfers
Account-to-account (A2A) transfers, in which money is transferred electronically between a customer’s and a merchant’s bank, are popular in many countries. A2A transactions, which occur in real time, offer the additional advantage of reducing the potential for fraud and chargebacks. Unfortunately, because A2A transactions are rare in the United States, few U.S. banks offer this service.

Person-to-Person Transfers
Many companies offer person-to-person (P2P) transfers, in which funds are sent electronically to a third party, which in turn deposits the funds in the merchant’s account. One P2P service provider that conducts cross-border transactions is PayPal. PayPal lets anyone with an e-mail address use a credit card or bank account to securely send and receive online payments. PayPal will also conduct currency exchange, allowing the customer and the merchant to operate in their preferred currency. Google Wallet offers similar service. Other P2P providers, such as Western Union’s BidPay, accept a credit card payment from the payer and send a money order to the payee.

Escrow Services
This long-standing payment method is now used for export. By definition, an escrow service, such as http://escrow.com, reduces the potential risk of fraud by acting as a trusted third party that collects, holds, and disburses funds according to exporter and importer instructions.

Shipping and Pricing
The process of shipping and pricing goods purchased over the Internet is identical to the process for goods purchased by other means, except for digital products (e.g., music, videos, games, or software) that are downloaded from a website. 

Customer Service
Like offline exporters, online exporters must have an effective customer service program to build and maintain a customer base. Online business poses unique challenges and opportunities for customer service. Customer service should be integral to website design and overall business
strategy. Online exporters should consider providing:

  • A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • An online interface enabling customers to track orders
  • Clearly posted contact information (e.g., address, phone number, and e-mail)
  • Delivery of timely, quick, personalized responses to customer inquiries
  • Customer testimonials
  • Contact information fields to collect foreign address contact information
  • Toll-free phone numbers that can be used in Canada
  • Information presented in languages other than English

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