Amazon Revamps International Shipping

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) said Wednesday it will offer new international shipping plans designed to cut the length of time overseas customers must wait for delivery of goods bought on the e-tail site.

Rather than varying shipping terms country by country, the cost and time it takes Amazon to ship goods will now depend on which of 10 regions a customer lives in.

The cost and time it takes to receive products bought online from Amazon will depend on the volume of goods shipped to a particular region, as well as the distance from the e-tailer’s U.S. distribution facilities.

The shipping categories divide the world into 10 regions: Canada, Europe, Asia/Asia Pacific, Japan, Latin America, Australia, Israel, Africa, Middle East and Island Nations.

More than a quarter of Amazon’s 32 million customers live outside the United States, according to the e-tailer.

Waiting Room

The new shipping program, which is based on an expanded partnership with Deutsche Post Global Mail and subsidiary DHL, will also cut the wait time for customers, Amazon said.

While some wait between 14 and 84 days to receive goods now, that time will be cut to 11 to 21 days, Amazon said.

“We know our customers appreciate saving time and money when it comes to shipping, so we’ve acted to greatly improve the customer experience,” said Jeff Wilke, senior vice president of operations for Amazon.com.

In addition, Duetsche Post will also offer an expedited shipping program that can cut transit time to between 5 and 10 days and is 35 percent cheaper than existing overseas express shipping options.

Shipping Snafus

Despite its prominence in the e-tail world, Amazon has struggled to determine the best way to handle shipping costs.

Earlier this month, Amazon abruptly ended a free shipping program, which it described as a test. The decision came amid a rising tide of customer complaints about Amazon’s decision to raise prices on some products at the same time.

One of Amazon’s largest competitors, meanwhile, Barnesandnoble.com, continues to offer free shipping on orders of two or more items, though that e-tailer indicated in a recent e-mail to customers that its offer is also for a limited time.

Changing Minds

According to a report released in June by Jupiter Media Metrix, up to two-thirds of consumers have decided not to buy an item online due to shipping costs.

Amazon’s decision to lower costs for international customers highlights the fact that overseas customers pay more and wait longer for their purchases. The move may also be in response to increased local competition in many Amazon markets, such as Japan.

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