International Shipping Rates Corrected
In one of those moments when a lengthy string of curse words is the only reasonable response to a boneheaded mistake, I am pleased to announce that international shipping rates are now accurate.
I was contacted by a potential customer recently after they had received an automated abandoned cart email. The response very politely explained that international shipping rates were simply too expensive. I was curious because I don't mark up shipping rates—they are pulled directly from the carriers and my system automatically selects the appropriate size box for each order. After testing on my own, I discovered that rates being displayed during checkout were, indeed, wildly inaccurate ... Which helped explain why I haven't yet made a single international sale.
After a week of troubleshooting the shipping app integration from the service I use specifically for international orders with my developer, he discovered the issue. As with most web site related errors, it was really stupid. Really, really stupid. Most shipping apps use ounces as the default empty box weight. The default setting for this app is pounds and I input the ounces without realizing that I needed to convert the weight to pounds ... So, 10 oz became 10 lbs, instead of .63 lbs.
Anyway, the issue has been resolved, and while international shipping will never be cheap, the rates returned are now in line with what you might expect. Which, is probably still too pricey for a lot of people, but until I have the sales volume to afford expanding into overseas warehousing solutions ... it's the only option I have available to me.
There are two lessons for small online business owners here:
1) Investigate every potential issue, no matter how small. After spending 20+ years designing, developing, and maintaining web sites of all kinds, I learned to never assume a web site is functioning correctly simply because it's live.
2) Listen to your web site visitors/customers. Nine times out of ten, your user's complaints or feedback will be a result of user error. It's that tenth time that's the potential killer. Never write off a complaint or a potential problem as user error without looking into it. (see #1)