33% of consumers bought more cross border due to pandemic- IPC Cross-Border E-commerce shopper survey, 2020.
47% of cross-border deliveries were slower due to COVID-19. – IPC Cross-Border E-commerce shopper survey, 2020.
Today, E-commerce has made cross-border selling and buying much easier than a decade ago. Though the demand for cross border e-commerce has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, cross-border deliveries have slowed down. Businesses have begun to rework on their cross-border e-commerce strategies especially after the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
What is a Cross-border E-commerce Strategy?
Cross-border e-commerce refers to e-commerce activities that are carried out beyond international borders. When customers belonging to a particular country place an order in an e-commerce store that belongs to another country, then it is a cross-border e-commerce activity.
Cross-border e-commerce strategy is the market strategy laid by a business to conduct online selling of their products to international customers efficiently.
Why only a minimal number of online shoppers in the US and UK buy products from foreign e-commerce sites?
Only 37% of shoppers in the United States and the United Kingdom regularly purchase from foreign sites.- Turning Browsers into buyers, 2020, Digital Commerce 360
Global brands have a serious question as to why fewer customers in the US and the UK buy from cross-border e-commerce sites. Majority of the e-commerce studies show that shoppers from countries with plenty of online domestic retail options like the USA or UK are less likely to buy from foreign retailers compared to shoppers from the smaller markets.
However, online retailers from the US and UK have greater opportunities to sell their products to cross-border shoppers. Hence, cross-border e-commerce strategy has become a crucial element for US-based online retailers to expand their market presence globally.
9 Essential Tips to Prepare a Cross-border E-commerce Strategy
Expanding a regional e-commerce strategy to a cross-border e-commerce strategy is undoubtedly a painful task. Newer innovations in technology have made this process simple and effective.
Here are some useful tips for businesses to build their international market presence with a successful cross-border e-commerce strategy.
1. Local demand research
Before getting into the international e-commerce market, it is necessary for e-commerce businesses to know the buying trends of the foreign market. Customers have different values, and purchasing habits on the internet. It is necessary for them to know goods that sell and goods that don’t sell for their cross-border customers.
Offering a unique product does not guarantee an easy purchase from customers. A deep-dive local demand research helps cross-border e-commerce businesses to prepare for the local competition in their target country. The competitor data, coupled with insights on buying trends and customer purchasing habits help them build a rapport with their cross-border customers.
2. Run an analysis of your international competitors
To build a strong market approach, it is crucial for e-commerce businesses to analyze their international competitors who run cross-border e-commerce activities. They should optimize their market entry based on research conducted on pricing, communication channels and keyword terminology of their cross-border target market.
3. Spot the potential markets
Instead of attempting to sell everywhere at once, it is effective to analyze which product will fit which market. For this, the e-commerce business needs to check the target country’s commercial guidelines, culture, business climate and competition in those markets.
4. Determine and follow target country’s rules and regulations
Once an e-commerce business does local demand research and spots the potential markets, it should determine the rules and regulations of that market. Each country holds a set of guidelines for trade and commerce that e-commerce businesses should follow mandatorily.
Every country has varying modes of communication, and different legal restrictions on products and taxation policies.
For instance, it is illegal to ship plant materials, soils and plants to Australia. Egypt legally prohibits the shipment of smoked salmon.
Irrespective of services, taxes and charges, e-commerce businesses should stay transparent with their customers. This builds trust for the brand in the minds of foreign customers.
5. Ensure that website speaks the customers’ language
Language determines how much an e-commerce business can connect with its customers. Speaking the local language helps them get closer to them, gain their trust and increase sales. Majority of logistics experts cite that customers do not prefer getting services in foreign languages.
An e-commerce business can translate their website to a local language to gain more trust from its buyers. The option to switch languages is one of the major reasons for many online marketplaces to have a global reach. Today, online tools and platforms have made it easier for them to integrate all languages native to countries they intend to sell in.
6. Offering local payment options to customers
Local payment options are another key component apart from language to win the customers’ hearts. People often exit online shopping websites when they see foreign currencies in their shopping cart.
Beyond building transparency and trustworthiness with customers, local currency payment options reduce the fear of fraudulent services. Cross-border E-commerce businesses can find payment gateways for their target countries and integrate them with their website. This reduces the shopping cart abandonment and maximizes sales.
7. Set up local return options
9% of customers returned a part of cross border purchases. – IPC Cross-Border E-commerce shopper survey, 2020.
Many international e-commerce businesses do not provide local return options as the return costs are higher than product prices. They can provide options for cross-border customers to return their purchases to a local logistics center. These local return options are a good solution for businesses and help them easily attract customers with multiple choices.
8. Localize product data
E-commerce businesses can tailor their product data in a number of ways based on their cross-border target market. They can design channel-ready product feeds that suit communication touchpoints like Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Beyond meeting the requirements of the new channel, the product must be relevant for the target customer. For instance, posting product sizes that suit France customers to the US audience won’t make any sense. Also, e-commerce businesses should identify key holidays in their cross-border target market to boost their sales.
9. Testing the new cross-border market
Before entering the new cross-border market for online business, it is important for e-commerce companies to test their products. Rather than testing all products at a time, they should consider testing a few products at a time. This helps them exit the market with minimal losses in case their product testing is unsuccessful.
Cross-border market testing helps businesses to obtain a deeper knowledge of their target market and optimize their product listings. It helps them find out and adjust the key information like pricing, language, communication channels etc. This ensures that their entry strategy is agile enough for further e-commerce business operations.
Network optimization software helps e-commerce businesses to optimize their international logistics network and inventory. Strategic network design with geospatial visual simulation offers complete visibility into long-term supply chain performance. Beyond transparency, it also offers greater control for e-commerce businesses in their cross-border target markets.
Locus’ smart supply chain decision-making platform, NodeIQ enables e-commerce businesses to fine-tune their cross border operations by enabling them to test out scenarios on a digital twin. Digital twins are a virtual replica of the company’s on-ground supply chain. It helps them optimize their assets, warehouses, inventory or logistics positions where volatility and uncertainty exists. It enables them to do scenario planning based on business needs instead of resolving the supply chain issues when they arise.
The network optimization engine also helps build an optimal network design that reduces the cost of supply chain operations and maximizes profitability. It helps identify the root causes behind supply chain inefficiencies in their cross-border market and fix them.
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