Stamps.com Celebrates Customer Care Week!

October 1st, 2018 Comments off

We’re super excited to be celebrating our 12th Annual Customer Care Week at Stamps.com during October 1-5, 2018. Customer Service Week is a nationally recognized event devoted to acknowledging the importance of customer service and honoring the people who provide it at its best. At Stamps.com, our award-winning Customer Care team helps us shape our mailing and shipping product, being the eyes and ears for our customers to alert us to issues and suggest new product features.

In honor of Customer Service week, we would like to introduce you to Stamps.com Customer Care team member Jynifer as she shares what makes her work meaningful.

 

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Shipping to Canada: Taxes, Duties & Tariffs

September 14th, 2018 Comments off

 

With over 20 million English-speaking digital buyers, it’s easy to see why Canada is an attractive place to sell for U.S. based e-commerce merchants. Canada even has one of the strongest e-commerce infrastructures in the Americas, including broadband internet access and widespread mobile phone usage for completing online transactions. Selling internationally doesn’t come without its challenges, however. Like any other country, Canada has duties, taxes and tariffs you will need to be aware of. If you haven’t gone through the process to become a Non-Resident Importer your Canadian buyer is responsible for duties, taxes, and tariffs that are imposed on imported goods.  It is important you communicate these additional fees to your customers at checkout so as to avoid unpleasant surprises at the time of package delivery.

 

Duties and Taxes

There are 3 kinds of duties and taxes for items being imported into Canada:

  1. Goods and Services Tax (GST): This is a 5% federal tax that applies to items being sold to Canadian customers for domestic consumption.
  2. Harmonized Tax (HST): A handful of Canadian provinces have opted to harmonize their provincial sales tax with the general sales tax and the total rate is known as Harmonized Tax.
  3. Provincial Sales Tax (PST): Provinces that do not participate in the HST collection process impose their own taxes at the local level. The tax rate varies by province and can range from 5% to 9.75%.

 

Tariffs

Along with duties and taxes, your Canadian customer may also need to pay tariffs. Tariffs depend on the country of manufacture, not the country from where the product is purchased.  NAFTA eliminates tariffs on all goods that are manufactured in the U.S. and shipped to Canada.  However, if your product includes components that were manufactured outside the U.S., then your Canadian customer will need to pay tariffs on those components.

 

Shipping to Canada

Over one-third of Canadian e-commerce sales are currently coming from U.S.-based websites. That’s nearly $50 billion dollars flowing in from north of the border. With annual growth predicted at over 12% for the next three years, now is the time to open your business to eager Canadian buyers. If you are looking to sell in Canada be sure to check out the Stamps.com Guide: How to Ship to Canada.

5 Blogging Tips Every Ecommerce Seller Should Know

September 4th, 2018 Comments off
By 2021, e-commerce is projected to grow to more than $4.8 trillion in US dollars. As more and more consumers transfer their shopping to online, it’s important to change the way you interact with your customers to create an exceptional online experience. An important part of that online experience is having a blog.

With a blog, you can connect with consumers in a conversational way. You can offer advice, be casual and fun, and give important comparisons showing the difference between your product and all the others out there. While many e-commerce merchants have yet to dip their toes in the blogging pond, now’s the time to jump if you haven’t already. Here are some handy tips to help you get the best results.

Tip #1 – Use Great Images

Did you know images on your website are crawled by Google? There’s an entire tab for image searches on Google, plus they can get picked up in social media. You can gain more visibility and boost SEO with images.

For example, let’s say you sell kids’ socks. Pictures of the socks you sell could show up in Google’s image search. To get extra oomph from your images, name your image files descriptively. For a pair of kid’s striped socks, name your file something like “striped-kids-socks” to get the most SEO value. Also be sure to use alt tags and image descriptions, this will help Google determine the content of your image and rank you better.

Tip #2 – Make Content the Star of the Show

Ok, saying “focus on good content” may seem obvious. But it’s important to remember that you’re not creating content for content’s sake. The content has to be good. While quantity can feel satisfying, the real results will come from quality. Avoid content that’s shallow. Things like poor writing and grammatical errors will reflect poorly on your brand.

Bonus tip: Sometimes less is more. Don’t make the mistake of trying to overstuff your blog with keywords. Google’s become a lot more sophisticated in the way they measure websites.

Tip #3 – Follow SEO Best Practices for Your Blog

You don’t need to be an expert to use SEO best practices. Most people don’t take the time to understand the way Google rankings work. Following the SEO basics can take you a long way. Start by researching your keywords. Find the best ones that will bring you more sales. Then, install an SEO plug-in like Yoast to help you manage using the keywords on page and in metadata. The Yoast plugin will also help you generate an XML sitemap, which you can submit through Google Search Console.

Tip #4 – Rev Up Your Site Speed

People don’t like slow websites. Having a slow blog site can drive visitors away, it also reflects poorly on your brand. Plus, it can harm your SEO. Website speed has been part of Google’s website ranking algorithm since way back in 2010. Here are a few tips to help rev up your page speed…

  • Use a lightweight blog template that’s made to perform well
  • Spend money on good/fast hosting if possible
  • Disable any plugins you’re not using and uninstall them
  • Be sure to compress images

Tip #5 – Promote Your Blog

Lastly, be sure to let people know about your new blog content. There are a lot of other ways for people to find your content besides showing up in Google. Share newly published blog posts on all of your social accounts. If you have an email list, feature new blog posts in your email communications. It’s a great to keep people informed – while making your content do double duty.

Categories: Marketing for Ecommerce Tags:

USPS Issues Service Disruption Alert for Hawaii

August 24th, 2018 Comments off

The USPS has issued a service disruption alert for the state of Hawaii. Due to Hurricane Lane there is no mail delivery or pickup on August 24th for Hawaii Island, Maui County, Kauai and Oahu. Though the service disruption alert is only for August 24th, future deliveries and pickups may also be effected. For updates on USPS mail delivery see the Service Disruption Alerts Page.

 

Getting Local and National Updates

On a national level, you can access detailed information about which delivery units are not accepting drop shipments or whether your Post Office is open today.  If your Post Office is temporarily closed, the USPS will provide information on which facilities are handling the mail volume for that location in the meantime.  Usually, a nearby Post Office will handle the mail temporarily for the area.  In some cases, temporary cluster box units may be installed to provide delivery service to local residents, or if you use a PO Box, your mail will be sent to a box at another Post Office.

You can also access detailed Mail Service Disruption Reports to find the cause of the disruption.  The option of “USPS facilities status” will provide information on whether your facility is slated to be permanently closed.

 

International Mail Disruptions

For mail being sent to international addresses, this helpful page will provide information such as which services are suspended or restored for countries affected by unfortunate events, such as wars or natural disasters.  Mail addressed to a country seriously affected by hostilities may be returned to you so it is important to stay abreast of any issues abroad.

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Becoming a Non-Resident Importer to Canada

August 17th, 2018 Comments off

Canada, our familiar neighbors to the north. When looking to grow globally, Canada is easily the first place to look for e-commerce merchants in the U.S. It’s only natural. We’re close to our Canadian neighbors in proximity, language and culture. Yet, exporting goods to Canada isn’t as easy as it may look.

U.S.-based retailers face a number of obstacles to selling in Canada. American retailers can’t collect Canadian sales tax at the time of purchase, only at the time of delivery. It can be a complicated process for Canadian buyers too. When Canadian customers buy from the U.S., they may be forced to go to their local customs office to pick up their purchase.

The result? A poor experience for the customer who may have to pay additional taxes or even visit a customs office just to pick up their online purchase. Luckily, there’s a way for U.S. online retailers to get around these issues in Canada: Become a non-resident importer.

What is a Non-Resident Importer?

A “non-resident importer” (or NRI) is defined as a business registered outside of Canada that assumes responsibility for customs clearance and other import-related requirements for bringing goods into Canada. Americans can register to become an NRI through the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

As a non-resident importer, you can pay Canadian duties and taxes before delivery. Saving customers the hassle of paying taxes after you deliver to them makes you more competitive in the Canadian market.

Competitive Advantages of Becoming a Non-Resident Importer

Once you become a non-resident importer, the process of buying becomes much more simple for your Canadian customers. The advantages of becoming an NRI for you and your customers are clear:

  • There’s no need for your Canadian customers to go all the way to a customs house to pick up a purchase, you can ship directly to their door
  • Tracking shipments to Canada from the U.S. becomes an entirely visible process, a package goes from the USPS to Canada Post
  • Your Canadian customers aren’t hit with additional taxes upon delivery
  • Because you can pay taxes to the Canadian government, you can give your customers clear product prices that include Canadian taxes

Responsibilities of Non-Resident Importers

When you become a non-resident importer, you must fulfill certain responsibilities. You also open yourself up to regulations and fines for not complying with those regulations. Plus, you’ll be dealing with more than one level of taxation. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is charged throughout Canada, while Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is charged in Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

Here are some of the issues you’ll need to navigate as a non-resident importer:

  • Canadian regulations require you to meet additional rules, such as having a Business Number and an Importer Number (or RM)
  • You’ll be responsible for collecting and paying both the Goods and Services Tax and Harmonized Sales Tax
  • File GST/HST sales tax returns on time, or be charged penalties
  • Provide customs documentation and pay customs duties to the correct Canadian government authorities
  • Make sure labeling and marketing follows Canadian laws
  • Once you get an income tax number, you’ll be subject to investigations of your books and records by Canadian tax authorities

Ready to Become a Non-Resident Importer?

Clearly, there are hurdles to becoming a non-resident importer. But the rewards are huge. You can be competitive with other Canada companies – without having a physical office, warehouse or retail location in Canada. Ready to get started? Learn more about the ins and outs of becoming a non-resident importer.

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