Our Guide to Conquering the US eCommerce Market

A Person Working On A Laptop with A Small Shopping Trolley with An American Flag

Taking your eCommerce business across the pond is an exciting next step. Thousands more customers are out there waiting to discover your products, and with them comes the potential for skyrocketing revenue and massive growth.

But hold on. The US market is a very different beast to the UK one, so to conquer it, you’ll need a brand-new strategy – especially when it comes to fulfilment. That’s why it’s important to get prepared before diving in.

With fulfilment centres on both the East and West Coasts, the I-Fulfilment team have helped hundreds of businesses navigate fulfilment in the US market. Below, we share the 6 key things you need to do for a successful US launch.

1. Partner with a reliable third-party fulfilment provider

Picking the perfect fulfilment partner is key to a smooth US operation. The right choice can save you time, money, and headaches, all the while keeping your new customers happy. And that translates to a serious edge over your competition.

Here’s what to do when researching US partners:

  • Look for a 3PL with multiple warehouses located across the US, rather than just one. This gets your products closer to your customers, slashing shipping times and costs.
  • Make sure your fulfilment partner can integrate seamlessly with your online store platform, such as Shopify or WooCommerce. This lets you automate order fulfilment, gives you real-time inventory accuracy and keeps your customers in the loop about their purchases.
  • As your business takes off in the US, your fulfilment partner should be able to grow with you. They should be able to handle surges in orders during peak seasons like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, keeping things running smoothly as your business scales.

Located in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Virginia, our fulfilment centres keep us close to your customers; translating to lightning-fast, 2-day delivery across the entire mainland US.

Each centre is integrated with BladePRO, our innovative WMS software. It connects seamlessly with all major eCommerce platforms and couriers, giving you real-time insights into orders, inventory, and shipments. You’ll have complete control and visibility over your fulfilment process, from start to finish.

We also pride ourselves on our ability to scale with you. No matter how much you grow, we’ll always be there to support your fulfilment needs.

map of the usa with 2 delivery vans

2. Understand US shipping and logistics

Shipping works a bit differently in the US than in the UK. Here are some tips to familiarise yourself with it:

  • Get to know the main US carriers: USPS, FedEx, and UPS. They each have their strengths and weaknesses (just like carriers in the UK) and are best suited for different package types. For example, USPS is usually the most cost-effective choice for lightweight deliveries, while FedEx and UPS are the go-to for fast deliveries and larger packages.
  • US shipping is divided into zones based on how far your package needs to travel. The further it travels and the more zones your parcel crosses, the more it’ll cost. For example, shipping from New York to Los Angeles (Zone 8) is more expensive than shipping to nearby states (Zone 1-4).
  • Even though it’s domestic shipping, if your products are made outside the US, there might be import rules and fees. Tools like FedEx’s Global Trade Manager can help you estimate those costs beforehand. We also have a team of experts on-hand to guide you through the best, most cost-effective US shipping options for your brand.

Our US network of couriers means we can find the fastest and cheapest way to get your shipment where it needs to go. We can also keep stock in multiple warehouses and dynamically ship from the closest one, reducing delivery times and costs.

3. Adapt to local market preferences

Just like our accents, American and British preferences can be worlds apart. To win over a US target market, you’ll need to adjust your approach accordingly.

But it’s not just the US versus the UK you need to think about. The US is huge (Texas alone is almost three times the size of the UK!), and even neighbouring states can have totally different markets, so you need to take these variations into account too.

Here are some tips:

  • Think about what people are looking for based on where they live. For instance, if you sell clothing, take the regional climate into account – winter coats may sell well in Northern states like Alaska, while summer apparel might be more popular in Southern states like Florida.
  • Plan major campaigns around the interests and behaviours of US customers. For example, time your sales with US-centric holidays like Thanksgiving, Labor Day, or Memorial Day.
  • Make sure your support hours match US business times, hire staff familiar with American service expectations, and offer convenient options like a toll-free number and live chat.

We go the extra mile to make sure your customers get the support they need, fast. Our customer service team are available when your customers are, no matter their time zone, and even offer multilingual support to make communication easy. The result? Happy customers and more repeat business.

4. Optimise your pricing strategy

Switching your prices from GBP to USD is just the first step. Pricing strategies that worked in the UK might not perform well across the pond, so you may need to develop a whole new approach to succeed.

Here are some tips to help you develop a winning pricing strategy for the American market:

  • Research what your US competitors are charging to position your products competitively. Tools like PriceSpider and Competera can help you track their pricing and adjust yours accordingly.
  • Don’t underestimate the impact of currency exchange. Keep an eye on exchange rates using financial tools like XE or OANDA. This will help you adjust your pricing to stay profitable.
  • Promotions and discounts are a big part of US shopping culture, especially during major holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Offering deals like buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) or percentage discounts can be a great way to attract customers.

We can adapt our fulfilment processes to handle large-scale discount campaigns, so you don’t have to worry about the logistics every time you launch a major promotion. For instance, if you’re planning to sell product bundles for Cyber Monday, we can efficiently prepare, pick, and pack your bundles for shipping on your behalf.

5. Manage returns efficiently

Returns happen – it’s just part of online sales. When you choose a US 3PL provider, make sure they’ve got a smooth returns management process nailed down. Here’s what they should be able to handle:

  • Making returning items easy for customers, ideally with prepaid return labels. Amazon, for example, offers a seamless returns experience that can serve as a great model.
  • Manage restocking, inspecting and fixing returned items to minimise losses (a process also known as ‘reworking’). They should have a process in place for quickly assessing the condition of returned products and updating inventory as needed.

Our eagle-eyed returns team expertly handles everything from inspecting and fixing returned items to repacking, re-labelling, and answering your return questions. With flexible solutions tailored to your brand, we make returns a breeze for your customers.

6. Leverage local expertise

Expanding into the US market can be daunting, especially for newcomers. Here’s how bringing in some local US experts can help you navigate the waters:

  • US regulations can be confusing, with state laws adding another layer of complexity. Having legal advisors on board keeps you compliant, from understanding sales tax variations to navigating the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). I-Fulfilment works closely with trusted partners to help you navigate your tax and compliance obligations, so you can ensure you meet all the relevant requirements.
  • Connecting with American consumers takes a specific touch. Marketing agencies with US experience can craft campaigns that resonate with your target audience, leveraging industry insights and creative strategies tailored for the US market.
  • US supply chain experts can help you optimise your logistics. They can identify the most efficient shipping routes, help you navigate customs clearance smoothly, and recommend best practices for managing inventory.

With decades of experience helping businesses across the US, we know how to streamline your supply chain and optimise logistics for maximum impact. We’ll work with you to boost productivity and slash costs, setting your business up for long-term success.

Your American dream starts with I-Fulfilment’s next-level ecommerce and 3PL services

Dreaming of bringing your UK eCommerce brand stateside? Partnering with a trusted fulfilment provider like I-Fulfilment is your secret weapon. We’ll help you navigate US shipping, understand customer preferences, and optimise pricing – so you can focus on what you do best: building your amazing brand!

Ready to conquer the American market? Book a free consultation online or call us on 01425 200 222, and let’s make it happen!

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