The emergence of e-commerce has made international markets easily accessible even to small businesses. Sellers can easily take part in cross-border E-Commerce activities to sell their products to international customers. Even local sellers can easily tap into profitable markets with a high demand for their products, regardless of geographical boundaries. A clear example of this is the widespread availability of imported goods from USA. If you’re an online retailer, you might be trying to find out how to benefit from cross-border E-Commerce and expand your market. This article aims to shed more light on the topic to give you a detailed understanding.
What is cross-border E-Commerce?
Before we get into the details, let’s be clear about what cross-border E-Commerce means. The term is rather self-explanatory – it refers to the process of selling products online to buyers located overseas. It’s very similar to cross-border commerce, except that the latter also includes the offline trading of products.
Cross-border E-Commerce – What do the statistics say?
If the concept of cross-border E-Commerce is unclear to you, you might find the idea of selling products to a foreign market too far-fetched. This is especially true with small businesses that have a very limited operating budget. However, numbers don’t lie, and recent statistics only indicate a strong growth of cross-border E-Commerce. Here’s some food for thought.
- Back in 2015, cross-border shopping accounted for only 15% of the total number of physical eCommerce shipments. By the end of 2022, this is expected to hit 22%.
- The global cross-border E-Commerce value reached a total of USD 562.1 billion in 2018. It’s projected to grow at a CAGR of 27.4%, reaching 4 trillion by the end of 2027.
- Leading cross-border E-Commerce companies are constantly growing their range of products by allowing sellers from around the world to sell on their platforms. Ubuy, for example, offers more than 100 million products. With eCommerce websites trying to expand as much as they can, sellers enjoy unlimited possibilities.
- Total eCommerce sales in Southeast Asia will reach USD 90 million in 2022. As you might know, the demand for various imported goods is high in this market.
As we can see, cross-border E-Commerce is growing rapidly and is expected to continue doing so in the coming years. Between 2021 and 2022 alone, its value saw an impressive 13% growth.
Who is cross-border E-Commerce for?
If you’re on this page, you might be trying to decide if it’s worth venturing into cross-border E-Commerce. Before we proceed to the deeper details, let’s figure out who can benefit from cross-border E-Commerce.
- Sellers who wish to reach a larger audience by exporting their products.
- Businesses trying to expand to a larger scale.
- Those who wish to venture into new markets to explore them and understand the buying trends.
So, as long as you’re planning to grow your business or planning to explore a different market, choosing cross-border E-Commerce is a good option.
Advantages of cross-border E-Commerce
The growing popularity of cross-border E-Commerce stems from the various advantages it offers. Besides, expanding your business to other countries would definitely take some work and require you to carry out the necessary market research. This might make you wonder if it’s really worth it. Well, if a rapidly increasing number of sellers are choosing cross-border E-Commerce, they must have valid reasons for doing so. Let us explore the key benefits of taking your eCommerce business abroad.
1. Risk management
If you diversify your business into different markets, you can keep it going even during disruptions in the primary market. For example, if your business is based in the UK, you can continue selling in other markets where people seek to buy UK products online. Even if you run your business flawlessly, there are risks you can’t avoid entirely. Centralizing all your business opportunities within a country is extremely risky, and can have a devastating impact if things go south in your primary market.
2. Year-round sales
Depending on the type of products you sell, the demand for them may or may not be even throughout the year. For instance, an apparel store can sell only winter collections or summer collections at a time, losing out a lot of potential profit. The only way to avoid this is to sell your products in the international market. You can sell summer collections in the northern hemisphere and winter collections in the southern hemisphere simultaneously.
3. Leveraging on the demand for imported goods
Let’s face it – most of us have at least a small fascination for imported goods, especially if they’re from a country that’s well-known for such products. Wise business owners use this to their advantage by engaging in cross-border E-Commerce. It doesn’t matter if your company is only an ordinary business in your primary market. The high demand for imported goods from USA is a perfect example. If you play your cards right, it won’t take long to start getting more sales in your new market.
4. Wider range of products
As your business grows, you can afford to invest in new product categories. It may turn out that your most viable options aren’t the best choices for your native market due to a lack of demand. However, the same products might be high in demand in international markets. Thus, cross border E-commerce allows you to sell a wider range of products. Whatever you invest in research and logistics will be totally worth it due to the sheer profitability of the product.
5. Gaining more credibility
We can’t deny the fact that businesses with a presence in the international market are deemed more credible. Buyers usually tend to put more trust in a business they know to be an international brand. Expanding to a new market abroad can therefore make your brand more trusted among its audience, thereby generating more sales in your native market. Besides, it also makes great marketing content. Informing your customers at home of your success abroad is an excellent way to make them feel proud of your brand and retain them.
6. Quick tapping of opportunities
Once a business establishes its presence in the international online shopping market, it can quickly tap into unexpected opportunities and make the most of them. For instance, there might be a sudden spike in the demand for certain imported goods from USA. Businesses that do not engage in cross-border E-Commerce would need time to expand into the prospective market, potentially missing the opportunity.
7. Higher revenue
Operating across a vast range of markets ultimately leads to more sales, and in turn, increased revenue. That’s the ultimate purpose of expanding and growing a business, right? This is the most basic and obvious reason to venture into cross-border E-Commerce. Sure, you’ll have to invest more than what you usually spend to sell in your native market, but the total profits will be far higher. This, in turn, would help the business grow further.
The benefits of cross-border E-Commerce are immense – all you have to do is leverage them by entering the international market.
Challenges of cross-border E-Commerce
Cross-border E-Commerce is great, but it’s not without drawbacks. Operating in the international market comes with a number of challenges that you need to consider before you decide to go for it.
The logistics associated with international online shopping are one of your biggest challenges. When shipping your products abroad, you may experience delays in transportation and customs clearance. Human errors, tech issues, and poor handling of the goods are to be considered too, as international shipping is more complex than domestic shipping. Especially when you’re new to the international market. You may face some difficulties in finding the right logistic partners.
2. Payment methods
The payment methods available to your customers are a crucial factor in determining your sales. When shopping online, buyers don’t usually have the patience to try payment methods dislike or are unfamiliar with. In most cases, they’d leave your website, never to return – all because they couldn’t find a suitable payment method. This issue is especially common in countries where online payment systems aren’t very well-established.
This goes hand-in-hand with the challenge of payment methods. Your customers need to be able to pay using the currencies of their respective countries. Unless the prices are in their currency, they’d have to convert them manually. This usually results in the customers simply leaving the website to shop from somewhere else. When people buy UK products online, currency conversion during payment can also incur additional fees.
We all hate taxes, but there’s nothing we can do about it. When you partake in international trade, you’ll also have to deal with cross-border taxation. Apart from the taxes imposed directly on your products, foreign exchange fees apply too. This forces international retailers to raise prices by adding the taxes. You also need to understand the tax legislations in the respective countries, as a lack of clarity over the taxes can affect the customer experience negatively.
When it comes to cross-border E-Commerce, localization can be a challenge too. After all, you can’t market your products the same way in every country. It’s necessary to have a localization team to help with translation and communication. In the absence of one, a business would fail to come up with the right content to entice its audience. Inefficient localization attempts can do more harm than good, ruining your chances in a prospective market.
6. Returning and replacing goods
Having reliable return and replacement policies is crucial to gaining the trust of potential customers. People prefer replaceable or returnable products during cross border shopping online, which is completely justified. Nobody would want to buy a product that they can’t return or get replaced in case it arrives with manufacturing defects or other issues. Just like shipping, this is much more complicated in international markets than in the domestic one. Remember, if your customers have to send back a product, they’re already unhappy about it. Problems along the return process can further worsen their experience.
How to be successful at cross-border E-Commerce?
Now that we have covered the challenges of cross-border E-Commerce, let’s find out how to overcome them and succeed in your new markets.
1. Focus on the right products
When it comes to cross-border E-Commerce, it’s imperative to focus on the right products for each market. Not every product is in equal demand everywhere, and audiences in certain markets may have specific requirements. Before entering the market, you need to research it when to find out about the market trends.
2. Allow suitable payment options
It would pay off to carry out a bit of research on the preferred payment options in your target region and incorporate them. As mentioned earlier, your customers would buy from you only when they can make the payments in a way they find convenient. You cannot force them to use payment methods that don’t work properly in their region or aren’t preferred by them.
3. Build a good localization team
To ensure the success of your business abroad, you need to establish a skilled localization team. It would be their job to explore the market and find out about the audience’s tastes. They’ll also help you communicate with your customers with relevant content and through the right approach. Translations should never be an issue in this regard – poor translation lead to severe miscommunication.
4. Improve your logistics
Work on your logistics and make sure you can deliver the products timely. Find the best shipping partners out there and work with them to ensure a hassle-free experience for your customers. In this regard, also make sure buyers can actually use your return policy. They should be able to return applicable products and get replacements without any issues.
5. Search engine and listing optimization
Searching engine optimization (SEO) and product listing optimization are always necessary for eCommerce, regardless of the market. However, when trying to sell your product in a different country, you need to adjust the product pages and website content accordingly. For example, if you’re trying to sell to Indian customers looking forward to buy UK products online, the content must target them. Optimizations made for your native market won’t work in a different country.
6. Content marketing
Don’t forget to include content marketing as a part of your marketing effort. Buying guides that list the best products in a certain category are particularly good at generating sales. On the other hand, informative and educational blogs are great at generating more customer engagement. They help build a strong relationship with your target audience.
Frequently asked questions
1. Why is cross-border E-commerce important?
Cross-border E-commerce is important to both to buyers and sellers. While buyers are able to buy made in UK products or other imported goods, sellers can benefit from new markets.
2. What is the most important thing in cross-border e-commerce?
Being transparent, adherence to laws, and understanding your customers are the most important things in cross-border E-commerce.
3. How does cross border e-commerce work?
Cross-border E-commerce involves selling products from a store in one country to buyers in another country. I may be B2C, B2B, or C2C.
4. How do I start cross-border e-commerce?
To get started, research and identify the best markets for your products. Next, check for any potential problems or restrictions. If everything is fine, you can register on a reputed E-commerce website and start selling.
The tips mentioned above might seem too challenging to follow if you’re new to the international markets. Don’t worry, choosing the right eCommerce platform should fix most of the issues. This is something to remember before you venture into the international market.
Selling directly through your business’ web portal is cool, but you’d need the audience to visit it first. This can be quite difficult in a new market, especially when you have pre-existing competitors there. Using a leading eCommerce platform will help you get your products to your target audience, gaining exposure and reputation. You can sell through your portal once the business gains traction in the market, but a good eCommerce platform is a good start. This pretty much covers everything you need to know about cross-border E-Commerce. It’s hands down the most effective way to expand your business and enter new, profitable markets. Regardless of the scale of your business, you can succeed in international trade as long as you do it right. Hopefully, you found this guide helpful and can launch your business in the international market smoothly.