How Tiny Boutique Retailers Are Shipping To Keen Overseas Customers

The novelty market is exploding. Customers are looking for vendors selling products they can’t find anywhere else. 

It’s all part of a movement to make consumerism more individualized and bespoke. You can find Nike stores in London, New York, Tokyo, and even Nairobi, thanks to globalization. But consumers are tired of seeing the same shops in malls across the world. Consequently, the era of localization is returning. 


Spearheading the charge are boutique retailers. These unique outfits are looking for ways to sell their wares domestically but also to keen overseas consumers.

But what are they doing to take over the world stage?

Partnering With Shipping Firms

According to Seven Seas Worldwide, many of these tiny (often one-person) outfits are partnering with shipping companies. Retailers are looking for counterparts that can provide them with one-off services when they need to send a parcel internationally. 

“The demand for individual parcel shipping is growing,” says the company. “Boutique firms are discovering that their customers are willing to shoulder the costs of transporting goods to their location if it means getting something unique they can’t find anywhere else.”

Platforms are helping many of these companies grow, like Etsy. Now it is possible for anyone with a reasonable level of skill to sell wares online and use third parties to ship to overseas destinations. 

“The market for these types of services is growing, and it is making capitalism less homogenous,” Seven Seas Worldwide says. “You have entire cottage industries whirring away, outputting products that the big consumer products companies would never consider important. And because the market is so granular, it means that people can be more creative with their designs, creating products that once only existed in people’s imaginations.”

Embracing Technology

The market for internationally-shipped boutique goods is also exploding because of the rise of technology. Platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify make it trivial for individuals to set up their online stores and sell to a global audience. 

“Many of our customers tell us they started their businesses on a whim, just to see what would happen,” Seven Seas Worldwide says. “Many were surprised to discover that getting products to foreign markets was simpler than they thought, and a few made it their mission to create rare goods for these consumers.”

The technology helps because it reduces the difficulty of connecting people across countries and marketplaces. The global internet knows no boundaries, so even people in other countries can place orders. Website language options are also getting better, reducing communication barriers and enabling consumers to better understand product information. 

Going The Extra Mile

We are also seeing boutiques going the extra mile to make international shipping a special and memorable experience for their customers. Taking that additional step enhances the customer journey and improves branding. 

One thing we are seeing is boutique firms tracking the routes their packages take on the way to consumers. This geographical record gives products a sense of provenance and history, increasing their value further. Knowing, for instance, that a new handbag was made in Milan by designers from Bologna or Rome can be a great way to give a product personality. 

Another thing we are seeing is brands adding surprises during the unboxing experience to give customers a sense of time and place. Little trinkets that come along with the main product help with provenance and elevate the experience so that it feels even more special. 

Building Trust

Another way these boutique retailers are taking over the world stage is by building trust. Consumers are becoming more confident in placing orders across national boundaries because of the efforts these companies are going to.

According to Seven Seas Worldwide, working with the right shipping company is an excellent way to do this. “Part of the problem small boutiques have is their incapacity to deliver orders at scale. That’s why finding a reliable shipping partner is essential. These small brands need people who can deliver on the promises they make to their clients to build trust. Otherwise, you end up with a situation where both brands and customers feel frustrated and don’t trust each other.”

But trust-building efforts go beyond merely shipping rapidly. It also extends to things like providing customer service and adding multiple payment options. Clearly communicating with clients helps, too. Letting them know when products will arrive and whether there are any delays can help manage their expectations and prevent them from complaining about the service. 

We are even seeing some boutique vendors partnering with specialist services that consult on how to ship goods overseas effectively. These can provide valuable insights to streamline the process and get products moving. 

Dealing With Customs

Finally, tiny domestic boutique firms are improving how they deal with customs to get packages moving. Having proper arrangements in place reduces delivery delays and helps get products through terminals faster. 

Surprisingly, there is quite a bit companies can do to speed up this process, at least according to Seven Seas. “One option is to place detailed product and provenance information on the exterior packaging. This gives customs officials something tangible and concrete they can work with. It can also help to work with customs brokers, or people who facilitate the customs process for brands. These services are indispensable when firms start shipping numerous products overseas.”

Wrapping Up

The challenge for boutique brands looking to sell overseas is to balance shipping costs against the need for affordability. Some customers are willing to pay high prices to get unique items, but others aren’t so keen on the idea. 

Therefore, those running these businesses will need to balance the pros and cons. Selling domestically reduces transaction costs, but also limits the market size. By contrast, transporting goods overseas raises costs but improves the customer base. 

Boutiques will also want to consider the logistical complexity of changing their target markets. “Shipping firms can make this process more straightforward,” Seven Seas says. “But the process still depends on customers using valid addresses and providing the proper information over company systems.”

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