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The Business Case for Testing Your Code

The Business Case for Testing Your Code

We’ve talked a bunch about writing tests for your WordPress code, but one thing we haven’t touched on yet is why you should spend the extra time and money to write them. If you’re a manager or business owner, why should your developers ship features a bit slower as they take time to write tests?

Testing as an Investment

Today we’re going to tackle that management question. I want you to start viewing testing practices as an investment instead of an expense to your business.

Reduce Regressions

How much do you like it when your site breaks? If you’re like me, you hate it. I’m betting that at some point you wonder how on earth your developer could break the site. They must be terrible…right?

Wrong.

They’re just human like you and they make mistakes.

Good testing strategies can stop your projects from breaking. When you’re writing code and running tests, a good test suite will show you when something breaks. Then you can fix it right away when the work is fresh in your head.

Good testing can also cut down on debugging as you fix issues. Instead of wondering where on earth a problem is happening in the code, a failing test can show you where exactly you need to look. 

For those times you do find old bugs that break stuff, writing a test to catch this scenario means that in the future the code won’t break in the same way. No more chasing a bug around thinking you’ve fixed it. Good tests will tell you that the bug is squashed.

Deployments Are Easier

There was a time when I refused to deploy client sites on Thursday or Friday because I didn’t want to work on weekends. Two things fixed this issue. First, a repeatable deployment process let me know that I couldn’t mess things up with some silly FTP error. Second, writing tests let me know that my code didn’t affect anything else on my client sites that needed to work.

Now you’ll find me deploying code many times each day, even on Friday afternoon.

For clients, that means they don’t have to wait till Monday for a feature to release, if we get it approved on Thursday. My clients are happier because I can ship features as soon as they’re ready to go.

Changes Become Easier

Have you ever worked on a project where some portion of the code was a black box that one person knew about, but who didn’t work there anymore? You’re terrified that if you even think about touching this code you’ll awaken the Kraken and lose a month of your life as you wrestle a mythological beast back into submission.

Good testing stops this from happening.

When you have good test coverage, anyone can swap in and work on a part of your system. When anyone can work on the code in your project, you’ve decreased the risk to your business because you’re not reliant on that single developer who can manage the Kraken.

This also extends to changing out big parts of your system, like the database you choose to use. If you’ve got a good test suite written you can change the layers of your application independently and know that they’ll still interact properly because your tests pass.

Tighter Developer Feedback Loops

It’s far easier to fix issues that have just been created. Curtis of 6 months ago must have had no idea what he was doing, because I’ve seen that code and had no idea what was going on. Writing decent tests can prevent this from happening because you find those bugs as you’re writing code instead of stumbling across it months later. Instead of trying to find the same mind space you were in months ago, you’re sitting in the code, fully understanding it and ready to fix any issues that come up.

The Only Thing Developers Write Less of is Documentation

I’ve looked at lots of code in my career and spent lots of time trying to figure out what on earth is going on with some websites I’m working on. If there is one thing developers write less than tests, it would be good documentation. Sure many say it’s important, but very few write any documentation at all.

While I’d love to say you need to write both tests and documentation, I’d settle for tests because they act like documentation.

When I take over a project with tests I can easily jump into the project and start writing code without hours spent trying to figure out what is happening. I know that when I break something, the tests should tell me I broke something. If I find an issue later, I add it to the tests, thus adding to the documentation on how the code should be working.

Tests make it easier for any developer to pick up your project without you needing to worry that everything will get broken because they were not the ones that have worked on it since the start.

Improved Reputation

The reputation of your business is everything. If you have a reputation for shipping good work on time that doesn’t break, then you’re going to get more work. Testing can help you build this reputation.

Instead of breaking code as you “fix” things, you’ll see a failing test and fix it before the client knows there was an issue. Happy clients refer new clients, who can, in turn, become happy clients.

When you step back and think about it, your job isn’t to simply write code for customers. Your job is to write code that works to fulfill the needs of customers. When you add testing practices to your workflow you will be able to deliver on that better.

Your code will break less. You’ll be able to ship working features more often.

Your customers will be happier as you serve them better.

Stop making excuses and use testing practices to provide a better service to your customers.

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What Is PCI Compliance? – Hostdedi Blog

What Is PCI Compliance? – Hostdedi Blog

When it comes to processing payments online these days, most people don’t even bat an eye. Shoppers are paying with credit cards, over email, and through Facebook, but for ecommerce sites, payment security risk aversion is integral to how they do business.

Here’s how to make sure that your clients’ sites are staying compliant, and what to do when you’re dealing with an out of date application that’s reached end-of-life.

What does it mean?

First of all, let’s get our heads around what PCI compliance even means.

Originally set by the major credit card companies, the PCI Security Standards Council formed these parameters for payment processing compliance to protect their cardholders from security threats and fraud.

Using a set of qualifications to determine the safety of a point of sale terminal or ecommerce website, these standards are now mandatory best practices between businesses who process card payments and their customers.

The standards for PCI compliance are as follows:

  • Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  • Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  • Protect stored cardholder data
  • Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks 
  • Use and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  • Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  • Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know
  • Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access
  • Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  • Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  • Regularly test security systems and processes
  • Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel

For developers, a separate set of standards has been set by the PCI SSC to ensure websites are processing electronic payments securely:

  1. Do not retain full magnetic stripe, card verification code or value (CAV2, CID, CVC2, CVV2), or PIN block data
  2. Protect stored cardholder data 
  3. Provide secure authentication features 
  4. Log payment application activity
  5. Develop secure payment applications
  6. Protect wireless transmissions
  7. Test payment applications to address vulnerabilities
  8. Facilitate secure network implementation
  9. Cardholder data must never be stored on a server connected to the Internet
  10. Facilitate secure remote access to payment application
  11. Encrypt sensitive traffic over public networks
  12. Encrypt all non-console administrative access
  13. Maintain instructional documentation and training programs for customers, resellers, and integrators
  14. Maintain instructional documentation and training prog

Penalty fines for non compliance can range between $5,000 and $100,000 a month, and inevitably wind up being the merchant’s responsibility. Additionally, merchants can face steeper transaction processing fees, or even the inability to process electronic payments for their customers in the future for non-compliance.

What Developers Need to Know About PCI Compliance

Thankfully, payment applications and payment gateways have taken care of much of the technical side of ensuring that payments are processed securely. As a developer or site builder, your primary responsibility where PCI compliance is concerned is to ensure that your applications meet the PCI SSC’s standards and stay up to date.

PCI compliance standards are determined by the volume of transactions which a merchant processes. The merchant is assigned a compliance level requirement based on the volume of business that he or she does, and the security of their sites may be tested by an approved scanning vendor, or ASV.

Source

Ecommerce sites fall under PCI SAQ 3.1 and have the following standards:

Whether your client requires an ASV really depends on which payment processors and ecommerce applications you’re running their site on. These charts depict the flow of data, so that you can determine whether your client’s site will need an ASV or not.

The burden of site security is ultimately on the site administrator, which may be you. If that’s the case, the strongest prevention for noncompliance is pretty straightforward:

  • Make sure plugins stay up to date
  • Ensure that software updates and security patches get installed
  • Maintain stringent server security standards
  • Make sure ecommerce applications are up to date

What End of Life Means for PCI Compliance

Recently, Magento 1 reached end-of-life, putting thousands of ecommerce sites into a compliance grey area when Adobe stopped issuing official security updates.

While the ecommerce application itself represents only a small part of what PCI compliance truly entails, for merchants still running their ecommerce sites on Magento 1, the important thing to note is there will no longer be security patches and updates issued for the platform. They’re on their own unless they’ve invested in a solution like Hostdedi Safe Harbor

This primarily applies to number seven in the list of PCI compliance measures for developers:

Test payment applications to address vulnerabilities.

With Magento no longer looking after security updates for Magento 1 users, it begs the question: can an ecommerce site be PCI compliant on an ecommerce application that’s reached end of life?

Yes. Hostdedi has done it with Safe Harbor. 

What to Do When a Platform Reaches End of Life

Magento was built on Hostdedi servers. When Magento 1 started approaching end of life, our engineering team jumped to work developing a solution that would allow merchants to decide for themselves when to migrate.

For many Magento 1 store owners, making the move to Magento 2 in the wake of COVID-19 wasn’t financially realistic. Site migrations are expensive and complex, and with so much upheaval and uncertainty, many were understandably scared to make the leap.

So the engineering team at Hostdedi came up with a compromise. Hostdedi Safe Harbor was built to address Magento 1 end-of-life, keeping ecommerce sites and stores owners PCI compliant until at LEAST the end of 2021, so they can migrate on their own time.

With regular security patches made by the team who literally started with Magento, Hostdedi is able to keep Magento 1 sites and stores PCI compliant until they’re ready to make the switch.

End of life doesn’t have to mean the end of PCI compliance.

Get more time, and keep customer data safe with Hostdedi Safe Harbor.

Click here to learn more about Hostdedi Safe Harbor, or open the chat window at the bottom right of your screen to speak to sales.

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Scheduling Sales & Marketing For Black Friday

Scheduling Sales & Marketing For Black Friday

5 things you need to start thinking about now, so you can implement before holiday shopping starts this fall.

In February of 2019 I launched my first ever crowdfunding campaign where I was able to raise enough capital to manufacture goods in China and ship them to the US to start my board game company.

While this took a lot of planning to pull off – it actually made the launch of my first game incredibly easy. So easy, I thought I was forgetting something the entire time but it turned out I could actually just relax and let my marketing automations do the work for me.

Today I want to share how you can use the same strategies to automate your sales and marketing for the Black Friday/Holiday shopping weekend and make money without stressing yourself out.

Design Landing Pages

First things first: design any landing pages. Landing pages are a way to highlight products & content specific to a campaign, sale, or interest. Not all stores need landing pages but if you have certain products heavily discounted it’s worth putting them all on one page so visitors can view the best deals, get interested in your store, and then start adding things to their cart.

Unless you only have one or two key products, landing pages are one of the best places to send your fans. And if you plan on doing any advertising or newsletter blasts (hint – you should be thinking about both of these) then a landing page is one of the best places to send them. And it’s why you should start with this a month or so before the sale.

Create Tracking Links

I’m a big fan of tracking & measuring everything possible so that I can figure out what worked and in future years double down on the strategies that made me money and ignore the ones that didn’t work. And since each industry is so different in ecommerce what makes perfect sense for one industry may not work at all in another so you will have to try various strategies and learn and improve each year.

One of the ways to monitor this is with UTM parameters. You can create UTM parameters using a generator for any campaign you’re running and in tracking software like Google Analytics you can see where people are coming from.

As an example I created custom links for all of the influencers who made videos about my products. And while many of them sent over dozens of people who ended up purchasing the product one of the influencers only had one confirmed sale.

In future years I wouldn’t use this influencer again. Since my product is only $15 getting one sale isn’t worth all the admin time spent emailing back and forth and sending them a demo product.

Here’s a few custom links you could create for your site:

  • Links from Twitter
  • Links from Facebook
  • Links from your newsletter
  • Links from influencers
  • Links from forums / discussion groups
  • Links from your email signature
  • Etc.

Schedule Sale Prices

Once you have all of your landing pages & links set up it is time to schedule the sale prices. Whether you use WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, or another online store just about all of them let you schedule both the start & end of sale prices.

Here’s what it looks like in WooCommerce.

If you’re doing a storewide discount, discount an entire category, or other more complicated setups, this isn’t typically included in the core software but there’s almost always apps, extensions, and modules that let you do this.

Plan Your Ad Strategy

Every retailer knows that Black Friday is one of the biggest sales opportunities of the year and many retailers go all out with advertising right before Black Friday. That means ad prices soar right before Black Friday so you’ll quickly find your self spending more than you make if you don’t plan in advance.

Image from AdEspresso

One of my favorite strategies is to come up with new ad concepts in spring, A/B test them throughout the summer, and wind them down in the fall. When Black Friday comes around you can retarget your existing audience which is far cheaper than targeting new people who are probably overwhelmed by the amount of ads and will be unlikely to trust a new company.

If you haven’t started ads and you’re reading this today, there’s still plenty of time. Get some ads out there next week and start building your audience so you can retarget them down the line.

Schedule Email Blasts

You have landing pages, tracking links, and all of your products are discounted. Now comes arguably the most important piece. Letting people know!

And yes, you can and should announce things on social media & on your website but today we’re going to talk about your #1 asset and that’s your email list.

These are easy to schedule in any email marketing tool. And what you want to do is setup a bunch of emails and you can send them to segments of your email list based on how active & how much they spend on your store.

  • Here’s what’s coming on Black Friday (7 days ahead)
  • Here’s what’s coming tomorrow (1 day ahead) – For people who regularly open your emails
  • Black Friday is here (Black Friday)
  • Don’t Forget Black Friday (Saturday) – For people who didn’t open yesterdays email
  • Don’t Miss the Best Sale of the Year – For people who have made multiple purchases

And you can create even more than this and if you have a large list with even more data you can continue segmenting your list and writing emails for those segments. 

Preparation is Key

At the end of the day it’s all about coming up with a plan. Almost all of the tools out there have scheduling functionality so once you make a plan, write a few emails or lines of ad copy go ahead and get it scheduled.

I planned my crowdfunding campaign for 6 months and raised $10,000 off a non-existent product. With a few months to go you have plenty of time to build your audience, come up with attractive deals, and let your audience know about those deals.

Good luck!

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Why DTC Ecommerce Matters More Than Ever Today

Why DTC Ecommerce Matters More Than Ever Today

In 2020, DTC ecommerce has proven to be another sensible way to reach your customers, and many brands are looking at starting from B2B and transitioning to direct to consumer.

Those of us working in ecommerce have been seeing the shift for a while now. As more and more stores transitioned their inventory online, the ecommerce boom wasn’t just happening – it was inevitable.

Fast forward to spring of 2020 though, and NOBODY could have predicted what happened next. 

Massive store closures triggered the single largest exodus from brick and mortar the world has ever seen, with more than 100,000 small businesses in the US alone closing for good as a result of the COVID-19 shutdowns.

But small businesses weren’t the only ones to take a hit. Larger retailers like Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy in the last few months, and that list continues to grow.

All things considered though, the pandemic has thrown into sharper relief the need for a stronger ecommerce presence for many of these retailers. Record-breaking numbers are rolling in for ecommerce for 2020, including a growth spurt that put the industry four to six years ahead of schedule.

The Problem With Wholesaling During COVID-19

Even in spite of many shoppers setting their sights online, manufacturers saw major hits to their B2B sales as brick and mortar stores shut down. Those relying on wholesale relationships to float their revenue took devastating hits in the midst of the shutdowns.

As consumers turned to ecommerce sites like Amazon though, the fallout continued. In mid-March, Amazon restricted their B2B purchasing of nonessential goods in the wake of unprecedented demand for household staples.

As Amazon made room in their warehouses for hand sanitizer and toilet paper, purchase orders for nonessential goods rolled to a trickle or stopped completely, and manufacturers saw B2B sales plummet.

In the scramble to recover these revenue losses and brace for a potential second wave of retail shutdowns, many manufacturers are turning to DTC ecommerce models.

What Is DTC and a DNVB?

DTC stands for direct-to-consumer. It’s an ecommerce model wherein the brand sells directly to consumers, rather than through retailers, essentially cutting out the middleman. Some DTC evangelists will tell you the goal is to handle production, sales, distribution, and marketing under one roof and never go wholesale, but in 2020, it’s proven to just be another sensible way to reach your customers, and many brands are looking at starting from B2B and transitioning to DTC.

A DNVB is a digitally native vertical brand that starts this way. Best typified by brands like Avocado Green Mattress and Allbirds, DNVBs typically start with a simple product line (typically one or two options), clear, crisp branding, and a strong mission-driven component.

With brick and mortar sales remaining unstable and manufacturers now dealing with the fallout from their Amazon backlogs, DTC ecommerce is looking more attractive all the time – and consumers are taking notice, too.

Mission-Driven Shoppers Are Fueling the Fire

Interestingly, DTC brands are creating evangelical customers and devoted fan bases centered around two things:

  1. Amazing products
  2. A unifying brand mission

Consumer data shows that millennials now make up the majority of buying power in the US, and are 63% more likely to purchase from a brand because of their mission and values. 

This data, coupled with the boom the DTC sector has seen from innovative consumer goods startups has created a replicable business model that’s looking all the more attractive to manufacturers who entered the industry through wholesaling.

Four Components of a Successful DTC Ecommerce Site

Over and over again, we see brands killing the game in DTC ecommerce, and the best of them have a few things in common:

  1. Clean branding. Visually-driven shoppers respond to powerful messaging and clean logos. Brands like Tushy and Anese are leading the pack with memorable branding that leaves a mark in a saturated market.
  1. Smooth UX. At Hostdedi, we know that an ecommerce site’s performance is directly linked to its ability to generate revenue. The best DTC ecommerce sites have an intuitive layout, load fast, and have a smooth interaction with their shoppers.
  1. Simple product lines. They say simplicity sells, and that’s certainly the name of the game in DTC ecommerce. Strong DTC brands typically have one or two flagship products they make their mark with and expand on.
  1. Strong missions. The data supports that today’s consumers are more conscious of their purchasing decisions than ever. Making your mission clear and building your brand around it (instead of as an afterthought) will literally win you more sales, and good karma.

Is It Time for You to Go DTC?

If COVID-19 has taught us anything in ecommerce, it’s that you can’t have enough backup plans. Diversifying how and where you sell your products makes all the sense in the world. Those high-volume retail POs may seem nice for a while – until they vanish, and your revenue vanishes with it.

Build resiliency, connect with your customer base, and get in on the thrill that is DTC ecommerce. Talk to one of our experts today about what it would take to get your brand online and selling DTC.

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The eCommerce Guide to International Shipping Costs

The eCommerce Guide to International Shipping Costs

If a product in your ecommerce store has global appeal, start thinking about a plan for shipping internationally. Shipping overseas isn’t the same as shipping within the country. 

Here’s a primer on the customs issues, international shipping costs, and other logistics you’ll manage as you begin shipping around the globe. Keep in mind that there’s rarely universal truth in international shipping. Get individualized quotes for your own products so you know how much it’ll really cost. 

What is international freight and what is the cheapest international shipping? 

Since shipping overseas is usually more complicated than domestic shipping, international freight logistics can present some unique challenges for eCommerce businesses. Some companies specialize in international freight and handle the logistical challenges for you. 

For small orders sent to your customers, you probably won’t have to think too much about customs issues. Even if you do outsource this process entirely, however, it’s worthwhile to learn more about how international shipping works for your products. You’ll be more adept at troubleshooting and improving your shipping processes. 

Shipping domestically can be very straightforward. You pay a single amount and your package gets delivered. But costs associated with international shipping may include the following: 

  • Customs charges 
  • Customs brokerage costs
  • Ground transportation
  • Maritime transportation
  • Air transportation 

When you ship, you’ll need to choose a carrier to transport your package for you. There are three different types of carriers, and they all work a bit differently. They also frequently work together. Even if you choose one of these, it’s possible that your carrier will contract out part or all of the shipping to another one on this list. 

International Carrier 

If you choose an international shipping carrier such as FedEx or DHL for the entire route, some or all of your shipping costs may be rolled into your postage. International carriers are responsible end-to-end for shipments and generally permit more visibility across the entire process than a national carrier working with a shipping partner would. 

This option may be more expensive than the other two and doesn’t necessarily allow you as much flexibility, but it’s likely a simpler and less time-consuming choice. 

National Carrier

A national carrier handles your packages within a specific country. They may not provide service outside that nation’s borders, or they may contract with local carriers to transport packages through other countries. You can work directly with a national carrier, but you’ll need to ensure that someone is still transporting the packages once they leave national borders. 

One example of a national carrier is the United States Postal Service (USPS). USPS has international reach by working with local partners to transport your packages. When a partner is delivering a package, USPS may not allow as much visibility into the shipping process which means you may not have access to much information when you ship internationally. 

For a small package that only weighs a few pounds, choosing a national carrier might be cheaper than your other options. Larger or heavier packages may be better off with an international carrier or freight forwarder. 

International Freight Forwarder

A third party can organize the handoff between USPS and the final carrier while also handling any customs issues. This is what an international freight forwarder does. They have permission from you to take on freight and have their own agents handle the customs and shipping logistics along the way. 

You could use multiple carriers and arrange the logistics yourself but in practice, this may be too complicated and time-consuming. That’s where outsourcing can make sense. For example, you may decide to ship a package from within the U.S. to the Canadian border through USPS, then have another carrier take it from there. 

Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally

Shipping to other countries is not just one process. There’s so much that depends on the country. To send your products overseas, consider the end country destination and plan accordingly. 

Consider these country-specific sections for more information. This is just a starting point, so be sure to do your own research just to be safe. 

Cheapest Way to Ship to Canada

Shipping to Canadian consumers can be complex. Although you generally shouldn’t have a problem shipping to most Canadians, Canada is a diverse country with a variety of different shipping arrangements and options. Some Canadians live in very isolated, rural areas that may make shipping a more expensive process while others are in urban areas with an abundance of affordable shipping options. 

Retailers must be prepared to work hard in order to win Canadian customers. Having convenient shipping is a good start. Whatever you can do to make purchasing from you easier is probably worthwhile. 

Online purchases made by Canadians do incur customs duties and other taxes, and paying these is the responsibility of the buyer. Although these costs are not coming out of your own pocket, you should know that these expenses do directly impact how much your shoppers can spend with your business. By keeping costs for your customers low, you could even offset some of these expenses and make it more likely that you’ll win their business. 

Besides import costs, Canadians also pay sales taxes for their province and a Goods and Services Tax (GST) to their federal government. GST represents 5%  of the total. Local sales taxes bring this amount higher. 

If your products are relatively cheap, you probably won’t lose business because of import duties. Recent updates to customs processes and costs mean that Canadian customers ordering from American businesses are exempt from paying customs costs on purchases up to $150 CAD, with some exceptions. This is up from the previous $20 CAD limit set in 1985. The old $20 rules still apply with items shipped through Canada Post, so keep in mind the larger limit only applies to private carriers such as FedEx. 

When you ship to Canadians, you have a lot of options. 

Shipping Options for Sending Items to Canadian Buyers

Canada Post, the national postal service, is one great option for retailers. You can also use FedEx, UPS, DHL or Purolator. Here’s where you may also want to consider Canadian geography when you’re shipping. Some of your customers may live in isolated communities and you may need to account for longer shipping times. As a result, some carriers such as FedEx, have different policies within Canada. FedEx Ground ships in four days or less within the US, but in Canada, takes up to seven days for shipments. 

You can use an individual carrier or use a multi-carrier shipping option that hands off packages to a new carrier at the border. Although the usual U.S. carriers you’re probably familiar with are available, the additional choices you gain within the Canadian border may be worth it. Purolator, for example, is known for reliable next-day shipping by 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to Canadian addresses. When shipping packages, having this option available to customers may be a helpful selling point. 

Cheapest Way to Ship to the U.K.

In the U.K., eCommerce businesses have several options for shipping within the country such as the Royal Mail and DHL. You also have UPS international, FedEx, and even USPS international shipping. Shipping to the U.K. can be an expensive venture with a USPS Small Priority Mail Flat Rate box costing $36 and a Large Flat Rate box costing $94. Your costs will certainly be higher than shipping domestically, but that doesn’t mean shipping to the U.K. is completely cost-prohibitive for retailers. 

Imported goods need to follow the U.K. guidelines. Some of this may involve more work and recordkeeping on your part unless you outsource part or all of this process. 

You should find out if you’ll owe Value Added Tax (VAT) and have to collect it for your customers. Many eCommerce sellers are required to create their own VAT registration and request information from customers to help with location verification and tax reporting — even if you’re not based in the U.K. 

These rules may change. At time of writing, the U.K. was planning to leave the European Union which could result in different policies. 

Cheapest Way to Ship to Australia

When you’re shipping to Australia, you have several options. You can use an international carrier such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL. You could also use USPS. With Flat Rate International options available, you can reduce your costs for shipping a package to Australia. 

Customs costs may not be as much of an issue for you if your products are valued at less than $700 — which is about the minimum taxable amount for Australians who are buying products online and having their purchases shipped. GST imposed by the Australian government applies for more expensive purchases. 

If you use a freight forwarder or shipper, they’ll provide a Self-Assessed Clearance (SAC) Declaration for the Australian government when your package arrives at the border. Otherwise, you’ll be responsible for providing the SAC. 

Cheapest Options for International Shipping

You can streamline your international shipping and save money by creating a process. If you want a game plan for how you’ll ship internationally when orders arrive, take the time to decide in advance which countries you’ll be selling to, and create a system for taking care of shipping. As your business operations grow, you may need a more formal internal process for packaging and shipping including designated job descriptions for team members you have in charge of the process. For automated or outsourced shipping, plan how you’ll transport packages to the carrier, or sign up for a pick-up service. 

Your cheapest overall option may be outsourcing your shipping to a service such as Parcel Monkey or Easyship. These services can take advantage of volume discounts on international shipping and pass the savings along to you. In some instances, this can cut half of your shipping costs. 

Before you make any shipping decisions, carefully consider your options and find out what every shipping service has to offer for your business and your customers. 

Choosing the Best International Shipping Service

Business owners should shop around and consider several important factors when looking for the right shipping service. Start with an example order and calculate the cost and options offered by several different carriers. 

Before you make a list of carriers to compare, you may want to consider what you’ll need in a package shipping service. Specifically: 

  • Product categories you ship
  • Countries you ship to 
  • Countries you plan to ship to later as your business grows 
  • How much of the regulations and customs process you need to outsource 

See how every option stacks up against the others and note any questions or concerns you have for further research. Of course, you’ll also want to compare: 

  • Price
  • Arrival time 
  • Convenience for your customers
  • Shipping experience for you 

Every time you ship internationally, you have the option of using one single carrier or using a multi-carrier shipping option. 

Automating Your Shipping with the WooCommerce Shipping Plugin 

If you’re using WooCommerce, a shipping plugin can help you ship more efficiently. Balance multiple carriers along with a busy array of incoming orders and have costs calculated for you. A variety of different plugins are available with various features designed to make shipping calculations easier and enable quick comparisons among carriers. 

With a plugin, your site can calculate shipping rates accurately and provide customers with multiple choices. This feature allows you to provide different price points and shipping times so buyers can make their own decisions. 

Once you’ve automated your shipping, your online store can run with less guesswork and greater simplicity for both you and your customers. 

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