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J.B. Prince puts some sizzle into international e-commerce sales

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Culinary equipment retailer doubles international online orders and revenue in nine months.

"Our buyer is the chef with a knife in his hand and a great meal to create," says John Thompson, operations manager for J.B. Prince. "You find our products anywhere you find ambitious cooks, culinary students and home enthusiasts."

"Our international orders doubled in the first nine months. And our customer service improved. The difference is night and day." – John Thompson

For nearly four decades, Manhattan-based J.B. Prince has provided kitchen magicians with top-of-the-line culinary tools. The company's reputation has spread worldwide.

In 2015, international visitors made up 20 percent of J.B. Prince's online traffic. Customers showed a strong interest in the company's products… yet e-commerce conversion rates lagged. Why?

"We found many international customers weren't fully aware of additional duty and tax added to the total cost of their order," says Thompson. "Too many customers were shocked when the carrier required extra payment upon delivery. Those unexpected fees caused them to refuse orders, then give us bad reviews. We used to get a lot of international returns." 

Even worse, because their shipping costs at the time were so high, many returns weren't even returned. "Sometimes it just wasn't cost-effective to return the item, so we had to just abandon the shipment," Thompson adds. "That negatively impacted our bottom line, and that overall customer experience simply didn't meet our standards."

The UPS i-parcel® e-commerce solution proved to be the right recipe for success. It enabled a localized web shopping and shipping experience in which prices were automatically converted to local currencies, duties and taxes were displayed in the cart, and preferred international payment options were provided, right at checkout. "Once we implemented that, refused deliveries were no longer a problem," Thompson says.

Perhaps best of all, UPS i-parcel logistics enabled J.B. Prince to dramatically lower the cost of international shipping. 

UPS i-parcel Select costs a fraction of other express shipping options but still delivers in five to eight business days with complete visibility. "Our international orders doubled in the first nine months," says Thompson. "And our customer service improved. The difference is night and day."

Help with both implementation and eliminating fraud 

The UPS i-parcel team works closely with customers from start to finish to get the web technology up and running. Thompson says their internal startup time commitment was "extremely minimal," just a couple of hours of website development. "We don't have a technical staff, so having the UPS support team to install UPS i-parcel on our website was really a deciding factor."

UPS i-parcel technology also solved a costly problem with international fraud. On its own, J.B. Prince was not effective at verifying international credit card purchases. "We lost up to $6,000 in one year," Thompson says, "before UPS i-parcel eliminated that risk."

Value delivered in many ways

For now, J.B. Prince focuses internationally on English-speaking nations, managing multiple orders a week from Australia and Great Britain. New orders also are coming from Mexico City, Hong Kong, Paris and other culinary capitals.

The UPS i-parcel solution includes a dashboard that lets online merchants set up uniquely timed, country-specific promotions for holidays, special sales and BOGO offers. Thompson says they'll soon use the dashboard to offer promotions in key markets at specific times, like Boxing Day in Canada. "The dashboard is great," he says. "It's simple to use, and it gives us control. We can easily add products and customize promotions by international regions and specific dates, right down to the SKU."

Thompson says UPS delivers value in other ways, too. "The UPS team has helped us with online marketing, packing solutions and supply chain optimization. They go the extra step with customer service. I really feel like they're invested in our success. They're our preferred partner."

UPS Senior Account Executive Ralph Rivera says the feeling is mutual. "We want to grow J.B. Prince's e-commerce business," says Rivera. "That's our single-minded approach."

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