Well now, this is an interesting development. Visa Canada is partnering with a very savvy company in the States called Borderlinx. It provides Canadians with a US shipping address, so that we can order at any online store in the States and ship it to the Borderlinx address. Borderlinx will then ship it up to us in Canada.
Living in Yellowknife, this holds very promising possibilities! In fact, it holds possibilities for anyone without easy access to the likes of Banana Republic (my clothing store of choice), Restoration Hardware, Zappos shoes and a whole lot of other shops. These are just two of the stores which only ship to US addresses via online shopping.
If it wasn’t for Visa’s involvement I would have assumed this was a fly-by-night operation – I pay for the goods, they collect them, and resell them or something. So I contacted Visa’s eCommerce rep and got the following responses from Stephanie Wallat:
Q: Does VISA have any estimate of how many Canadian online shoppers want to purchase from US online vendors, but can’t because the vendor doesn’t ship to Canada? (ie. how big of a problem is borderlinx solving for us)?
According to research by Burak Jacobs on on behalf of Visa in October 2008, the main barrier to shopping at US sites is “Sites that do not ship to Canada” -(38%) . The next reason was shipping costs at 25%.
The same research showed that 62% of respondents indicated they are shopping at US sites – what we don’t know, however, is how many more would, if the sites they targeted would ship to Canada.
With that many shoppers facing the barrier of shipping, this gap presented an opportunity for Visa to provide more value to its cardholders by offering a solution like Borderlinx .
Q: If I had discovered Borderlinx on my own, my guard would be up. I’ve always assumed there was Some Reason the US Vendor didn’t ship, other than their inconvenience, such as international trade agreements/tariffs etc. The fact that VISA is partnering gives Borderlinx credibility to me – enough so that I’ll personally try using it if the price/exchange rate is favourable enough to compensate for the shipping/taxes etc. Can VISA confirm that US online vendors don’t ship to Canada purely for their own logistical reasons, rather than because doing so violates anything per above?
We can’t speak on behalf of retailers, but from what we understand in talking to US retailers, it is more a case of logistics than compliance (although in some cases, it may be that the merchant’s goods are not accepted in Canada – the Borderlinx website provides some examples of prohibited goods).
Shipping outside of the US can involve considerable effort, especially for the smaller retailers. To be successful, retailers need to understand the new market, have the internal resources and organizational structure to support cross border, be able to handle the fulfillment/logistics, know the government/regulatory/legal requirements of each market, etc.
Visa is working with third parties like Borderlinx to fill the cross border gap and enable its cardholders to shop anywhere in the world.
Q: Do Visa guarantees about damages of goods purchased apply to items that go through Borderlinx? (I’m actually unclear about those guarantees, but I think VISA replaces items that break or get damaged, if purchased by visa?)
In general, if a Visa cardholder makes an online purchase that arrives damaged, the first step is to contact the merchant. The Visa E-promise acts as another avenue for dispute resolution should attempts to deal directly with the merchant fail.
Borderlinx inspects packages and will alert a customer if the package is damaged (details below).
Carriers selected by Borderlinx insure deliveries against damage up to $100. Borderlinx is working to provide its customers with additional coverage, and will be able to provide more information about that soon.
From the Borderlinx site:
If your goods are damaged when they are received by Borderlinx, the email advising you of a new delivery to your Borderlinx address will explain that goods were received damaged and – as far as possible – describe the damage. You should then contact the retailer directly to arrange an exchange/refund and let us know what you wish to do through the Customer Service page.
If you see a ‘Damaged’ icon against your delivery, you will not be able to have it shipped (ensuring that you don’t choose to receive damaged goods inadvertently). If you still want to receive your goods, please contact Borderlinx Customer Service so that we can arrange shipment.”
This money coach plans to test this out in the fall, and I’ll let you know how it goes. It will take some careful calculations, factoring in the exchange rate, the tarrifs, and the shop prices but I’m really pleased to have at least the option available to me.