Opening an eCommerce site to a global market offers vast potential and increased profits, as well as a number of daunting challenges.

According to, worldwide B2C eCommerce sales hit $1.5 trillion in 2014, and are predicted to reach $2.35 trillion by 2017. With numbers like that, one would think that everyone would be selling internationally. Cross-border transactions, however, are highly regulated and complex, which has prevented some businesses from entering the global marketplace.

Some of the challenges to global eCommerce include credit card fraud, website translation, currency conversion, accepting foreign payment methods, product export classifications, shipping regulations, taxes and duties, and prohibited/restricted items.

Additionally – and the focus of this article – is the logistical challenge of processing international returns.

Put a Process in Place

Online merchants understand the importance of having an efficient and customer-friendly returns process, but international returns can be far more difficult to implement. Procedures developed for outgoing shipments must be created in reverse, and all of the hurdles involved in exporting your package must again be overcome to import customer returns.

Almost all returns fall into two categories: returns for which the merchant takes responsibility and will cover the cost, and returns for which the consumer takes responsibility and will cover the cost.

Even if a merchant has enlisted a third party service to facilitate their global eCommerce transactions, in many cases, they still have to manage international returns themselves: contacting the customer, using separate CRM software, generating/distributing the required return documentation (commercial invoice, airway bill, etc.), and tracking when the return item is received and issuing a refund if applicable.

This takes time and work, which not only impacts the merchant, but can slow down the overall returns process, frustrating customers awaiting a refund.

Enlist an Expert

If online merchants are considering integrating a global eCommerce solution with their current shopping cart platform to overcome the many cross-border challenges mentioned here (and they should), they should also look for a service that takes international returns into account.

Bongo International, for example, has recently launched a new Returns module for their Checkout Global eCommerce Solution which lets the merchant handle international returns within one central location. Additionally, it gives the merchant control to select who is responsible for the costs, and automatically generates and distributes all the required documentation.

Regardless of which company an eRetailer decides to work with, it’s important to ensure they have a system in place to facilitate international returns – it will save merchants time and money, and result in happier customers all around the world.