13 Things You Need to Know Before Shopping From Abroad

13 Things You Need to Know Before Shopping From Abroad


Buying stuff from overseas markets is an attractive option when seeking unique products and souvenirs that are not available locally or are overpriced within the territory of your country. Regional sites can be easily contacted in case the product is defective or got damaged in transportation.

All eCommerce international shopping applications cannot be held responsible for your losses. Some are themselves a scam, some do not have any policies to cover losses once the product gets shipped. Some lack proper delivery and support services without any properly registered tracking methods in outside countries.

All intercontinental shopping websites provide excellent deals, but not all products are legit. Some of the trustable and tabulated ones are eBay, Amazon, Ubuy, Walmart, Aliexpress, Etsy, and many more. Still, one will always encounter some sorts of counterfeit items on that portal that have been forged. If you encounter a once-in-a-lifetime deal on the website or app, presume that product is not legit at all!

After extensive research, we have tried to condense and sum everything into 13 major pointers which every buyer must weigh up and compare before centralizing on any international e-commerce portal.

Set Parameters One Should Be Well-Aware of Before Shopping Products from Any International eCommerce Website or Application

1. Product Pricing
The final product price available on an international online shopping portal may include some sales commission, cost-oriented export price, or a marginal cost attached to them. Also, there may be some hidden charges on these abroad items that make them costlier if compared to any other local online shopping portal.

product prices

Some products might be exempted from high taxes and have variable cess in your locale. Foreign currency exchange rates generally differ on most products except for some essentials that are available at subsidized rates in the global market.

2. Shipping & Customs Policies
The trade guidelines of every country are quite different from one another. Hence, one should first compare the shipping policies laid down by your local government and by the government of the place from where the product got imported. Studying trade rules and regulations of each cross-border shopping platform carefully might be helpful.

cross-border shipping process

Additional costs of the products include custom duties, logistics charges, taxes, and import fees, those of which will not be included in domestic shopping. Many countries charge tariffs along with extra fees on imported goods. These all add up in an intrusive manner if not addressed properly.

Factory tariffs on shipping costs, duty-free imports, custom clearances, and costs of the after-sales service all should be totaled up and the gross amount calculated. This exercise should be carried out across all shopping portals on similar products and then a comparison should be drawn based on the shipping policies of every e-commerce site you are taking into consideration.

3. Minimum Order Quantity and Bulk-Order Processing
Every international supplier has a set limit of minimum order quantity i.e. most of the global shopping sites ship only when you buy above the minimum pricing scale they set for one-time shopping at their portal. Integrated shipping of global products for a large cooperative business or bulk purchases increases the custom duties and taxes levied on the product. If multiple shipments are carried for a single order then customs charges for every shipment get applied accordingly.

Bulk-Order Processing

Consumer demands and trends change with time and so do vendors and retailers. Staying up-to-date is necessary on the latest technology improvisations and variable changes taking place in the e-commerce marketplace.

4. Safe & Legit Site including Verified Sellers
Use familiar and well-known international shopping websites in your locale. The number of reviews, traffic on that site is not considered nowadays as a mark of authenticity of that international eCommerce shopping portal. Receiving referrals from friends or family members by word-of-mouth means that online websites are safe and can be considered trustworthy for branded & unique products from abroad.

Safe eCommerce Websites

Before buying reputable brands and shopping souvenirs check all available information on the traders. Make sure you have the name, email-id, and full contact details including the postal address of the web trader so you know whom you are dealing with. Always cross-verify any seller’s feedback or check the reviews of the products before ordering from an overseas market.

5. Membership Account and Credit Points
For being able to strategically cross-sell across the globe, any website provides its potential members with a ton of fantastic reasons to join and purchase products. Referral reward program, discounts, festive deals with other online/offline specials ranges and differ from one site to another.

Get Reward Program, Discounts & Festive Deals

The store credit system, savings on combined packages, cashback, coupons received due to regular shopping, and freebies received with combo packages to their customers all add up in improving the credibility of any e-commerce portal.

6. Delivery Service and Distribution of Products
Delivery times including fast-paced delivery with restrictions that have been applied to some parts of the country should be all taken into consideration. Handling and other service charges especially where special packaging is required add up together.

Delivery Service and Distribution of Products

Make sure you have all documents ready for the consignee to verify your identity as packages come from far-off places. Apart from worldwide free shipping or overhead costs for convenience, make sure you go through the return mechanism and shipping-back charges you will have to pay from your pocket presuming it doesn’t match “your requirements or expectations”.

7. Buyer Protection Mechanism
This policy covers all product alterations from the stated product details on the website and should be inclusive of all damages and losses that take place during its transit. The safe transportation of all the ordered stuff with handling procedures undertaken should be scrutinized carefully well in advance. Don’t solely rely on the service providers for alterations in your shipment.

In case of receiving a damaged product or its missing parts, you can hold the service provider and trader accountable under Consumer Statutory Rights. You can also hold them responsible if the package doesn’t get delivered, wrong information has been conveyed to you, and if unfortunately, the package got lost in the transit. However, the chances of the dispute getting resolved are really thin in global markets, especially via e-commerce platforms.

8. Customer-Care and Support Services
Customer services affect conversion rate indirectly as well as directly. All information, guidelines, and policies must be readily accessible by consumers. Apart from 24/7 hotline accessibility and solving consumer problems in a time-bound manner, check if there is a facility for live chat with the traders and service providers before moving forward. Order delay or any loss during transportation must get conveyed to retailers.

24/7 Customer Support Service

Similarly, prior information of other unforeseen circumstances if timely delivery isn’t possible should be conveyed to the consumers. Follow-ups after delivery with strong support services to all its consumers are key features of a reliable global shopping platform.

9. Easy Returns and Refunds
Implementation of any Return and Refund policy is fundamental to all international e-commerce platforms. There should be an easy return process where service providers deal with customers on a case-by-case basis. Quick management of returns/exchanges with clear guidelines of the approximate time that will get consumed in shipping back the product to the vendor and initiating the refund process should be known to the consumers.

Easy Returns and Refunds

The expenses related to shipping the product back to the vendors should be thoroughly listed on the webpage and these apps should be user-friendly with processes that are easier done than said.

10. Cancellation Guidelines
It must be clearly stated in the shopping store that till what time you can cancel your order. This can be further divided into three parts -

  1. Without any extra shipping charges getting deducted from the total amount already paid in placing the order.
  2. Partial shipping charges if the order has been processed and has been shipped by the seller.
  3. If the product has been dispatched for your country shipping charges become non-refundable.

11. International Payment Methods
Any international transaction requires a valid international payment method. A valid Visa credit card or MasterCard is generally found viable for settlement of international affairs. Support for major currencies, easy activation of an account on the e-commerce portal with centralized sign-in and identity verification processes should be given preference over others. Payment gateway should be highly secure and modes of active payouts on the app through which the payment can be made should be the next one.

international payment method

The number of ways by which the international shopping portal allows you to pay — international and domestic debit/credit cards along with transferring funds through UPI and Net-Banking, Western Union, and some wallets like PayPal is used on some platforms to carry international transactions. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages over the other while funds are returned in the electronic or app wallet and credit points apart from the original modes of payment.

Days of settlement, total consolidated savings on the order cum cost savings should be taken into account while evaluating the total price of a product across all international shopping portals.

12. Local or Global Warranty Card on Products with After-Sales Service
Quality of product is a genuine issue that arises while we ship branded & unique products from abroad. Products come either with an international warranty or a local warranty card. Factory warranty and services available at your current location also play an important role in deciding how long it will last.

Example — A product that has originated in the USA will surely have all its essential components and services available at inexpensive prices in the USA territory with a renewable warranty. Once imported, local retailers try to sell products procured from abroad with an additional guarantee to boost their profits. One should also keep an eye for fraudulent guarantees, single-brand retailers, and multi-channel single-brand retailers that misrepresent the quality or the features of any goods and services apart from giving fake reviews.

13. Shipping Carriers and Tracking Methods
This includes all shipping information about shipping carriers, special delivery costs, and consignee details provided to the consumer as soon as the products are ready to be shipped. A consumer should be able to keep a track of the shipment proceedings online via its unique bill or order number.

Shipping Carriers and Tracking Methods

Some packages have to be picked by the consumer at the airport while some get delivered to the buyer’s doorstep. The two main methods of shipping are ocean freight and air freight. Again, each comes with its own pros and cons. Shipping carriers across the globe must have a trackable delivery so that you can trace the consignee and collect the package while it’s within the boundaries of the country.

Short Note

It will surely take days or weeks to get your ordered product delivered to your doorstep depending on from which location it is being imported. Go through any eCommerce shopping portal shipping guidelines, custom policies, and consumer protection rights while buying any stuff from an overseas market.



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Lily James

Lily James

Born to explore the world🌎️| Shopaholic | Blogger | Writer