The Ultimate Cross-Border E-commerce Checklist for Businesses

If you are considering taking your e-commerce business internationally, now is the time to do it. E-commerce retail purchases accounted for 18 percent of all retail sales worldwide in 2020. The pandemic accelerated the already-growing e-commerce market as brick-and-mortar businesses quickly invested in their online shops as a way to reach more customers that were no longer purchasing in-store. The e-commerce market isn’t showing signs of slowing down, so businesses of all sizes should take advantage of this moment.

In this article, we will break down the most important items any business should keep in mind when going cross-border.

Start With Research and Resources

Market research will help you uncover any potential hurdles that could be prohibitive in terms of expense, staff, or time. For example, if you plan to launch in a particular country with specific product restrictions, it’s better to know that sooner rather than later so you can plan for any hurdles along the way. 

Consider how you can manage resources for your business. Are you considering hiring headcount to sustain your international growth? What are the main challenges you’ll face? Can technology help to mitigate the need for hiring more staff in the first place? These are all questions every business needs to ask before launching any global growth strategy. If hiring more employees isn’t an option, look into a tech solution and assess the business value and cost savings. Strong tech partners can streamline and automate tasks that would have required additional headcount, which can lead to cost savings in the long run. 

Leverage Technology

Software solutions can help you minimize risks, maximize the use of your staff, and jump many regional hurdles. Software as a service (SaaS) platforms help you automate some of the more complicated processes, such as shipping and logistics, duties and taxes calculations, and providing local payment options.

A tech platform can also help you to manage all your localized experiences in one centralized console. If your business is already doing cross-border sales and has multiple websites – all managed separately – software can help you centralize and automate your localization strategy. The right software will streamline the management of multiple individual market sites.  

Many businesses may already have experience selling into cross-border markets or are running small tests in key markets to see if cross-border selling is viable for the business. It’s common for online retailers to see significant traffic from international sources and want to capitalize on that global traffic – thus resulting in almost an accidental entry into the cross-border e-commerce scene. However, these businesses often struggle to fulfill international orders efficiently and cost-effectively. They realize quickly that the nuances involved in the cross-border online shopping funnel are too difficult to handle on their own, and they usually look to software solutions to support their growth. Luckily, a strong tech partner can help them launch into new markets quickly or expand into existing markets they have already been selling into. 

Localize Your Marketing

If you’re going to increase your global sales, driving more traffic to your site becomes paramount. Being able to generate product feeds to advertise across multiple social media platforms in dozens of countries is challenging without a solution that can localize the information in those feeds and automate the creation of those feeds. This is another realm where software can make this task easy so that e-commerce marketers can focus on their messaging and strategy and leave the heavy lifting of operationalizing localized advertising to a tech platform.

Software solutions will also help you optimize your onsite marketing and promotional strategy. For example, leverage e-commerce software to localize your websites by country or region and offer local promotions. That way, customers in every market can feel like they’re shopping on a domestic website because the experience is seamless and easy, and they are receiving the same offers they would expect to see on a local site. Delivering an exceptional shopping experience in every market will boost customer retention around the globe, ensuring these new customers will come back for more.

Consider the Shipping, Duties, and Tax Costs

There is a great deal of complexity in cross-border that can make it almost impossible to execute successfully and cost-effectively. For example, international shipping and logistics can cause numerous headaches and can easily sour the customer experience of your shoppers if not handled correctly. Before you make the cross-border leap, look into the shipping costs of your targeted regions. Every region is different, and customers have varying expectations depending on their location. If your future customers expect rapid shipping or free shipping, those will be important factors in your strategy. 

Working with a tech partner that also provides best practices and enables a/b testing for every variable across the customer journey for each market can help tremendously to ensure you take the right approach. By leveraging a strong cross-border solution with a shipping carrier network, you can offer your shoppers various shipping methods optimized for speed and cost so that the customer can choose the best shipping option to suit their needs. In this way, your brand can make the unit economics of international shipping work for your business.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re aware of how your targeted countries display duties and tax costs to buyers. Consumers in certain countries may prefer to see these fees broken out from the price on product detail pages and at checkout.  In other markets, consumers may prefer to have all these fees included in the price. Either way, it is important to enable shoppers to pay for these fees upfront at checkout to ensure customers won’t be surprised with a bill later upon delivery.

If your business is considering launching a cross-border e-commerce strategy, then explore Flow Commerce, a cross-border e-commerce solution preferred by the top global retailers, today. Our software has helped businesses of all sizes realize their global expansion strategies, and our experts are ready to help your business move into new markets with smart tactics.

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