5 Ways to Prepare Your Online Store for Cross-Border Ecommerce

Retail ecommerce is expected to grow to $2.29 trillion this year thanks to growing internet and mobile adoption. Improvements in ecommerce platforms, payments, and logistics are also making it easy for just about any venture to put up an online presence and even conduct cross-border business.

You might notice that Chinese merchants are already dominating platforms like Amazon even in the western markets due to their ability to sell their goods at cheap factory prices. China conducted more than $540 billion in cross-border ecommerce which shows that business can be made beyond your local base. Since there’s an opportunity, you should consider expanding the market for your products and services across borders.

Here are five ways you can do to prepare your store to engage a new market.

1. Support Preferred Payment Methods

Failing to support preferred payment methods is among the reasons why online shoppers abandon their shopping carts. What works for your local market may not work for others. Cards may seem to be the norm in digital payments for most territories but this isn’t the case for all markets. Countries with large unbanked consumers prefer cash or mobile payments. Even developed European countries prefer to use their bank accounts to pay for purchases online rather than with credit cards.

As such, it’s more strategic for you to use a payment service that caters to your target market’s preferences. For example, Sweden-based payments service Trustly enables merchants to directly accept bank transfer payments. The company has found success in markets that share this preference. Trustly provides merchants access to the 29 territories that it serves under a single agreement so partnering with such a service also minimizes the paperwork needed to accept payments in these markets.

2. Sort Your Catalog and Inventory

You may also have to emphasize products and services that appeal to your new market. If you have analytics enabled, you can review your website traffic to see what products or services are getting the most views from overseas visitors. This would allow you to identify what kinds of products would have better appeal given a target market. You may just have to tweak what products appear in your catalog depending on who is visiting.

You may have to not realize it but your products and services may actually have a global appeal. If these are unique to your store, you don’t even have to compete on the basis of price. For instance, there is an increasing global appeal to handcrafted and creative goods as seen in the success of Etsy and the recent launch of Handmade by Amazon. If you happen to have exclusive access to local crafts, you can offer these globally through your store.

3. Localize Your Content

Not everyone speaks English so providing options to change the interface language would definitely help people easily navigate your store. It would even be better if you could also have your product descriptions translated. Online shopping gives customers little to go with beyond product pictures and descriptions since they can’t physically inspect the product. Having accurate descriptions that they can understand helps.

However, be wary of automated translations. Even Google Translate could have difficulty taking context into account. You definitely don’t want your catalog to read like those poorly written user manuals of knock-off products. Professional translation and localization services such as Gengo could help you localize your content appropriately.

In addition, provide measurements for both metric and English units. This lets customers know the dimensions and weight of the items that they can readily grasp.

4. Adjust Your Pricing

Aside from your content, be prepared to adjust your pricing to your target market. Check if your target cross-border market would have regulations concerning imported goods. You may have to consider taxes and other fees. Most ecommerce platforms allow you to set these so they are readily reflected on the item’s price.

Be mindful of currency conversions. While payment services can often do the conversions upon checkout, it is still better practice for customers know the net costs while browsing and even before they place the items in their online shopping carts.

Factor in the shipping costs in your pricing too. Your customers wouldn’t want to get an unpleasant surprise that their shipping costs would be more expensive than the items they’re buying while checking out. This often compels them to abandon their carts entirely.

5. Get a Dependable Logistics Service

Speaking of shipping, improvements in logistics have made sending items across borders faster and more affordable. However, it is still common for the smaller, lesser known, and cheaper logistics providers not to be as dependable as the more established ones.

It is often tough to actually track a package once it leaves your own borders. Established shipping services, however, could offer better tracking information. Cross-border merchants are often targeted by fraudsters so it is important for logistics services to have mechanisms to ensure verified delivery of the items.

Consider a logistics provider that could also handle returns. Customers would often prefer merchants who offer such a service even if they have to a pay a premium if they know they can send back items.

Bonus: Nurture the Market

Most ecommerce merchants focus on the markets of larger economies. However, you may actually hit the jackpot targeting territories where your products and services are exclusive and valuable. Do your homework and explore potential markets that may have an urgent need what you offer.

You could also nurture the market by offering targeted promotions that cater to their culture’s sensibilities and preferences. Given the reach modern technology and infrastructure offers businesses today, it’d be shame to miss out on the global audience.