The Cross-Border Trade Opportunity

Is Cross-Border Trade (CBT) for you? According to Forrester Research, by 2022 cross-border shopping will make up 20 percent of all e-commerce—with sales forecast to reach $630 billion. With the rise of marketplaces, geographical boundaries are becoming less and less important to consumers. The transition to CBT needn’t be costly or risky – so long as you are strategic and stay agile.

So, why is your potential customer looking to buy from you? Essentially, price and availability. When asked why they buy from foreign websites, 76 percent of cross-border shoppers from Europe said they were looking for the best price. Being able to buy a specific brand or product that isn’t available in their home market was another strong reason according to recent research.

Think of your global marketplace strategy in relation to the different seasons across the globe as well as things like the different timings of sales events and promotions. Brands and retailers find great success listing on local marketplaces at the start of the season at full price and then moving that inventory to other global markets. Marketplaces and their fulfilment services make it easy to shift stock in this way and to make the most of seasonality in retail. Marketplaces are also a way for retailers to test the market or even new products at the beginning of a season.

How to Get Started

A recent eMarketer study revealed that 25 percent of CBT digital buyers worldwide made their most recent purchase on Amazon—followed by eBay at 18 percent. Are you already selling locally on Amazon or eBay? Your first move should be to list your items on their local country sites.

So how do you get started? Track where demand is highest to give you an indication of the countries worth targeting first. Don’t forget that many marketplaces offer comprehensive overseas fulfilment programs designed to help you get started in new locales. Fulfilment by Amazon or eBay’s Global Shipping Program assists with storing, shipping and award-winning customer service in local languages, and both handles returns.

The Low-Down

While eBay and Amazon may be what comes to mind first when you think of international expansion, there are other options for cross-border growth. Many will consolidate and ship your orders, take care of tax issues and provide local customer services on your behalf, cutting out a massive source of stress for retailers.

Catch: Catch now has a presence in New Zealand, making it easier to sell internationally

Google: If you already use Google Shopping locally, why not reach your overseas customers too?

Lazada: With a presence in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, it makes sense to expand your selling strategy through Lazada.

Jet: At checkout, Jet determines which retailer can provide the best economic value for a transaction based on product location, buyer location and order details, such as product mix. The winning retailer then fulfils the order.

Facebook: Are you already utilising Facebook to sell online? Expand your borders easily

Newegg: Prominent US marketplace Newegg is keen to attract international sellers too– they can take care of taxes and offer a fulfilment service akin to Amazon’s.

Sears: Compared with other marketplaces, Sears has a relatively long lead time to get items listed on its site. But once products are published, retailers can benefit from the traffic and exposure of a top ten retailer on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list.

Trade Me: Your New Zealand consumer is looking for your products. They just need a simple way to find you!

Walmart: The variety of products, coupled with Walmart’s vast (and loyal) consumer base, makes this marketplace a no-brainer to reach millions of new potential customers.

Wish: Did you know this app is one of the most popular discount shopping sites in the US?

Fruugo: Global marketplace Fruugo is keen to help merchants make the move into international e-commerce. It can translate domestic listings into 17 local languages and take care of complexities—from currency conversion to customer service.

Zalando: Zalando, the biggest online fashion retailer in Europe, recently announced a new fulfilment program designed to help brands – Fulfilment Solutions.

Amazon: Take advantage of the comprehensive overseas fulfilment programs designed to help you get started in new locales. Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) stores, ships and offers award-winning customer service in a local language and can offer multichannel fulfilment.

eBay: eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP) also fulfils internationally and handles returns

Get the Basics Right

It’s essential to ensure you are always offering trusted payment options. While many international shoppers have credit cards or use PayPal, others prefer to use alternative ways to pay. In China, it might be Alipay but in Germany, consumers prefer to buy with SOFORT, a bank to bank system, and some Italians look for cash payment on delivery as an option. Check out the local payment preferences and ensure you can provide them.

It sounds obvious but also make sure you don’t get lost in translation! Seventy-five percent of cross-border shoppers will refuse to buy from a site that isn’t in their native language. When you’re listing on marketplaces always use a professional translator – they will understand the finer points, ensuring your content is easy to read and accurate. Many marketplaces do the translating for you.

Besides making customers feel more inclined to buy from you, translating your web content makes sense SEO-wise. And it’s not just translations from different languages, it’s about knowing the right terminology and slang. Selling thongs in Australia is very different from selling thongs in the US!

Knowing your market means that you also have to know the timing of promotions. Promotions that work in Australia won’t necessarily translate across borders. Make sure you know your audience. For example, did you know that Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June in the US, the first Sunday in September in Australia and the second Sunday in November in Scandinavia? It’s also essential to know the different seasons in different regions so that your products and promotions align, whether that’s selling a bathing suit in Europe or a back-to-school promotion in the US.

Once you’ve tested the waters with marketplaces and are confident you’ve found the right market for your products, you can launch a local version of your site. Use low-risk retention marketing such as affiliate, retargeting, email and social to build a reputation and ramp up your mobile marketing and use paid advertising to boost site traffic. The most important part of launching your site internationally is to make sure you find a trusted logistics partner. Look out for established providers – many are expanding globally to fuel demand – and they could be opening facilities in your selected area.

Building trust is essential when it comes to expanding your reach across the globe. Make sure you’re utilising ratings and reviews to build trust and leverage your brand. This is also where your social media presence can play an essential part in your success. Overseas consumers might check out your social media presence before buying from you, and they may prefer to buy from brands with a presence on local platforms. Speedy communication via social media and messaging apps are key things to factor in when selling abroad. Create content that’s local on Facebook and Instagram. Set up a review system to collect reviews in multiple languages – these reviews will then read to Google as ‘fresh content’ which will help your site and listings rank higher.

While it might seem like a huge undertaking to start selling internationally, the right integrations and platforms make crossing borders a much more simple process. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take the plunge earlier!

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