CROSS BORDER E-COMMERCE- THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

 

Cross Border Ecommerce

Gone are the days when you would have to travel miles to market your product in your country or outside it. We are living in the most advanced era humankind has ever seen. Technology and the internet have enabled the biggest online business paradigm. You can sell whatever you want, to whomever you want, from wherever you want.

Cross Border Ecommerce – Ever heard of it?

The world’s economy depends on international trade. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a huge blow to the economy, lifestyle, and trade. In short, it left many in devastation. However, where certain businesses were, wiped off from the face of the earth, many survived due to their online resources.

To put it into simpler words,

 

Cross-border ecommerce is the selling of goods, products, or services online, from a website of a business, brand, or national store to the people (buyers) in another country. As a retailer, you can practice cross-border e-Commerce with another retailer or brand and a customer (B2C), or another business (B2B), or between two consumers or private individuals (C2C).

The last two years, followed by the Covid-19 pandemic, have seen huge momentum in cross-border ecommerce. An article published in Bloomberg estimated that China makes an average of 60 billion dollars from its cross-border ecommerce.

 

People have experienced huge losses and devastation in the past couple of years. A study by Visa stated that more than 90 percent of the business leaders are determined to expand their brand’s presence in the international market by 2024.

Although cross-border ecommerce seems like a great idea, every entrepreneur dreams of “launch the business internationally “and get recognized. However, it is easier said than done. International selling provides a vast opportunity for any business’s growth. However, the concept is underserved. Where one-third of the ecommerce sellers have their business blooming in the international market, two-thirds of the retailers, brands, and businesses are still struggling to get there.

 

That is because getting into the Cross Border Ecommerce Market is not easy!

A seller needs to overcome certain legal challenges and hurdles before they get their business on the global ecommerce table. To capitalize on a lucrative international market, it is time that you up to your cross-border ecommerce game. Because as compared to domestic e-commerce, studies have shown that cross-border e-commerce has the potential to grow exponentially by 20-25% each year.

 

The cross-border ecommerce market has fluctuated. Zion Research published a report that estimated the international e-Commerce would reach a whopping 4 trillion US dollars, given that it hit 562 billion US dollars in 2018. Hence, an expected increase in the compound annual growth rate- CAGR by 27.4%.

However, there are certain factors to be looked into more depth. Such as, what has given rise to such extraordinary cross-border e-Commerce growth?

 

The exponential increase in the use of the internet and smartphones globally has positively affected the B2C e-Commerce market. People prefer to buy and sell from their comfort zones because when you have technology at your disposal, why not! Apart from the tech-savvy devices, cross-border e-Commerce has become legally easier and effective by forming legal agreements between countries, like the one signed by China and Europe (the China Free Trade Area and European Free Trade Agreement).

Cross Border Ecommerce and the Emerging Challenges

Every business is built on a strategic framework. Similarly, you cannot simply jump on the cross-border ecommerce bandwagon. Instead, you have to play by the rules and anticipate possible challenges your business might encounter shortly. Once in the international market, the competition is going to be greater and more difficult.

To capitalize on the international e-commerce opportunities; business leaders must understand the consumer demand in each market. With ever-changing cross-border marketing dynamics, consumer trust is the key to improving future sales and generating lucrative revenue from each transaction.

 

Once any company has better knowledge about their target customers and their problems with international buying, they can overcome the challenges and win customers from any corner of the world.

 

To help the businesses thrive internationally, Forbes and other companies have highlighted the potential issues that a company might encounter when making it to the other side of the border.

The cross border e-Commerce market issues:

  • Language and Cultural barriers: If you do not understand what the customer wants, or the language on your website is alien to them, your international ecommerce may quickly go down the drain. Although English is a universal language, studies have shown that people prefer to buy from websites in their native language. It has been estimated that almost 60% of the international buyers will rarely go to an English-only online store. On the other hand, you may need to ensure that every word on your site has the same context and meaning for people of different cultures and languages. In Germany, you would not want people to “gift” you anything. A gift in Germany means poison.
  • Internet Issues and Customer Support: Power shutdowns and slower internet speeds can hinder your online shopping or transactions. You may get the fastest internet for your ecommerce business, but someone sitting in Africa or Bangladesh may not be on the same page, downgrading the conversion rates. The time is taken to translate the FAQs in the native language, downloading the user manuals, live customer support can be interrupted due to the disrupted internet and different time zones. All of it indicates bad customer support, making you lose your customers and the money.
  • International Taxation: Every country has different tax legislation policies, especially for foreign exchange. You may set competitively lower sale prices; however, the additional tax at the time of the purchase may instigate fury in the customer. In addition, little clarity on the taxes may lead to a negative customer experience as they encounter “hidden charges.”

For example, if you plan to expand your online business in or from Europe, you may need to understand their tax legislation better. There are different rules and policies for the pre-contractual, post-contractual, and withdrawal periods. Overlooking any which can be a huge setback for your brand.

  • Payment Preference: Another area where the customer may experience hidden charges is the mode of payment they choose. The banking networks, card payments, and their processing may add to the total cost of the goods. Even though the seller has no play in this, it can be a huge offsetting point for the consumer. Moreover, they may empty their online shopping carts because the purchase becomes too expensive.
  • Cross Border Currencies: Consumers prefer using their domestic currencies, as it offers faster transactions. Foreign currencies can fluctuate at any time, adding additional costs to the purchase. Therefore, every online seller should have currency conversion efficiency as the priority for cross-border trades. Else, the sales can go down, with a high rate of cart abandonment on their websites.
  • Data Protection and Cyber Issues: The customers put invaluable information when shopping online, like their names, address, and contact numbers. It is your responsibility to inform the customers about the registered data. Moreover, to avoid any cyber thefts, the company must work on cyber security and data management tools.

These challenges highly affect your brand’s online presence and its sales. Although the issues may seem demotivating, they can be easily tackled with smart business planning and fail-proof ecommerce strategies.

A few things that instigate a negative cross border shipping attitude

Even though you have overcome all the challenges, and your business guarantees a seamless customer experience, cross-border ecommerce may still suffer.

  • Longer delivery times: it has been estimated the 64% of the international shipments are never on time. the customs and other legal issues may take some time before the goods reach from one country to another.
  • Increased risk of frauds and lack of trust: you may not get what you saw online. The quality can be low, the color and the size can differ. Hence, one has to understand the significance of product shoots.
  • The complexity of the refunds and product return: the time it took for your parcel to reach you, the refund may take even longer.
  • Delivery costs: shipping the goods from the company in one country to the consumer in another part of the world may throw in additional charges that the customers are often reluctant to pay.

The Best Ways to Establish a Successful Cross Border Ecommerce

Now that you know what obstacles might come your company’s ecommerce way, you may want to start your venture with thoughtful strategies and fail-proof solutions.

  • Pick the best market for your products. The primitive rule for successful sales is to know your audience. For example, if you are cosmetics selling brands, men, kids, or maybe the elderly may find you of no interest to them. Therefore, do the market research and find out the international market places where your product or service is in demand. The country commercial guides can help you in landing potential consumers. Once you know your market, align your strategies with the culture and competition.
  • Assess the foreign market policies. Even if you got the best target market, you would not want to overlook the restrictions their policies may pose on selling your product. Build your site in alignment with the desired market. Understand how the consumers use your website and assess their reactions. The website’s goal is to provide easy access and navigation to the products.

Conduct your research, acquire the usability testing by experimenting with the workability of your website so you know if your cross-border e-Commerce will survive or not. Keep in mind; Amazon failed to compete with other ecommerce of marketplaces in China in 2019.

  • Eliminate the language and time barriers. When working with international clients, build a multi-lingual website and divide employees into different shifts so that your online store offers 24/7 customer support. Google translators can also help when you are trying to understand your customer’s messages.
  • Devise market-friendly pricing and tax strategy. Cross-border taxes and fluctuating prices can be cumbersome. Determine the freight costs, insurance, sales commissions, third party commissions, product distributions costs in the market, and similar. You need to price your product or service smartly. The final price depends on the total cost of selling the good and getting it delivered from your company to wherever the consumer is.  Moreover, you need to ensure that your website or online store lists the price in the local currency.
  • Collaborate with third-party logistics service and outsourcing. Handle internationals sales can be a hassle, especially if you are managing your domestic business simultaneously. Third-party logistics– 3PL can help you with your trade and ease the process. For example, if you were importing the goods from Japan, it would be a blessing to have a storage unit or a place to stop somewhere in the United States before you get the goods delivered in Bangladesh or India. The third-party services can help you track and simplify the shipment process.

You can hire freelancers and outsources the services like upgrading the site, uploading the content, answering the customer queries, etc.  This way, you can get a few of your tasks off the table.

  • Slide in the repeatable rollout strategy in your business. It can be a hassle if you have to start from the first step every time you launch a new product or service. Therefore, build the cross-border ecommerce foundation on the rollout plan. Where the basic framework remains the same, the third party availability, tax legislation, legal laws, and restrictions, everything remains in the loop; all you have to do is introduce the new product.

Cross Border Ecommerce- The place you need to be

If you execute the strategies smartly and overcome the cross-border challenges, there is no stopping you. Cross-border ecommerce is a highly lucrative yet tricky international marketplace, where you need to be prepared for the worst. If you are determined to launch your brand internationally, ensure a seamless user experience. Modify your ecommerce business with the right sourcing of products and build a user-friendly online website and shopping store.

Cross-border ecommerce can positively affect international trade by creating more job opportunities, evolving supply chains, and enhancing small businesses growth. Only when done the right way.

 

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