5 Tips for Getting Started With Cross-Border Commerce Today

April 18, 2019

5 Tips for Getting Started With Cross-Border Commerce Today

Expanding into new countries is a proven way to grow your business. By 2022, consumers shopping online with merchants outside their home country will account for 17.3% of all online spending, according to 451 Research.[1] And consumers everywhere are increasingly willing to choose a cross-border brand when they shop online.

Still, many merchants do not sell cross-border at all. Why? A survey of 111 retail brands by Internet Retailer and the Global E-Commerce Leaders Forum suggests that merchants hesitate because they are concerned about complying with product safety, data privacy, customs, and tax regulations that vary country by country.[2] But cross-border commerce often seems more perilous than it actually is. Consumers everywhere are looking for novel products, and they already shop online. Plus, cross-border transactions are no more likely to be fraudulent than domestic transactions.

If you research your new markets carefully and choose the right technologies, you can grow your business faster than you ever thought was possible.  And these 5 tips can help you get started today.

Opportunity alert: A surprising percentage of merchants don’t sell cross-border at all.

Tip #1: Remember Every Country is Different for eCommerce

The most important thing to remember is that every country is different when it comes to eCommerce. As you research each new market, you’ll want to consider how your customers want to see product information, pay, and have products shipped and delivered. You’ll need to consider local regulations and tax collection practices. The bottom line: if you do your homework, you’ll maximize profits while minimizing risks.

Tip #2: Start With Data From Your Domestic Commerce Site

If you’re unsure which markets to target first, a great place to start is the data from your current web store. Chances are you’re making some international sales right now. If you’re currently getting 10-20% of your traffic from one country, it may be a good choice for your first localized site.[3]

Tip #3: Talk to the Experts

Once you’ve identified some high-priority markets and done as much research as you can on your own, it’s time to fill in the gaps. Experts in country-specific marketing, payments, taxes, and data privacy rules can validate your plans and add helpful insights. (To learn from experts in cross-border commerce right now, download our Quick Start Guide.

Tip #4: Onboard One Country at a Time

Rather than taking a “big bang” approach, onboarding one country-specific store at a time can help you keep control of your brand. As noted in Tip #2, you should start with the country that’s driving the most traffic to your store. Other markets to prioritize are those in which you already have some in-house expertise.

As each store goes online, you can evaluate if localized messages and marketing are working and if you’re successfully converting local buyers. Also, a phased approach means you can get to market sooner, especially if your eCommerce platform is flexible enough to support the rapid creation of localized stores.

Tip #5: Choose an eCommerce Platform With Strong Cross-border Capabilities

Before you get started with cross-border sales, you should make sure that your eCommerce platform can support local languages as well as localized product information and payment and shipping options without adding major implementation and management costs. Moreover, your platform should let you easily integrate any third-party solutions you need.

What’s Next?

Cross-border commerce can transform your business and fuel rapid growth. If you’d like to learn more about how to get started fast, download our new guide on best practices and technologies that support cross-border commerce.

[1]451 Research Global Unified Commerce Forecast, 2018.

[2] Internet Retailer/Global E-Commerce Leaders Forum survey, April-June 2018

[3] Fitch Richardson, “Lean localization: How to quickly expand international web sales,” Internet Retailer, 2018.