As online retail increases substantially, it is interesting to note that some US retailers still use shipping providers that offer a two tiered solution to their Canadian customers. These US retailers, instead of giving the customer a quote right away for duties, taxes and shipping, re-direct the customers to another website and now the customer has to deal with another company to order the product. Often this solution involves giving a U.S. address or sending it to a border town for staging. All this does is delays and confuses the experience. They may want your business, but they make the process more complicated and time consuming than it should be. It is always best to know the total cost up front.
US companies should become non resident importers
One solution is for US companies to become non resident importers and take time to learn what duty rate their products fall under and create a door to door solution. The success rate for these retailers would increase if they provide the whole solution at the outset of the order being placed. I would even venture a guess that many Canadians stop the checkout process and bail on the transaction because of the hassle and the costs. All these elements have to add to the cost and now the item is not competitive. Any savings are eaten up by all these extra fees.
Make the experience less complex and seamless for a Canadian customer
No doubt if the Canadian buyer goes to a website and sees all the costs and the security of buying from the actual retailer they will make the purchase and embrace the experience.
You see and hear the word experience used and I think it really stands out in this case. If I have an easy and pleasurable experience I am going to spread the word and repeat my business. We are all a little scared the first time we try to buy something from a US company and do not want to have an unsatisfactory experience.
If setting up as a non-resident importer is done correctly shipping to Canada should be as easy as shipping State to State.