7 June 2019 Luke Goldsworthy

3 Hints for Cross-Border Commerce Success

Thinking of expanding your sales internationally? Going international is a classic way to grow your business, allowing you to reach new audiences and new profits. According to Forrester, cross-border eCommerce is expected to reach “$627 billion in sales by 2022, making up a grand total of 20% of ecommerce as a whole.”

Online sales have made it even easier to test the waters in another country but if you want to succeed, it’s going to take more than adding some translations and currency options to your website. You’ll need to research the market, design strategies specific to those markets, and find the best way to execute your plans. The reason most businesses fail in other markets is logistics, so when you’re doing your research, make sure to consider the following:

Methods of payment vary in each country

I’m not just talking about having different currencies (although the currency your website displays should definitely automate based on the user’s location). I’m talking about the fact that people in different countries are used to paying in varying ways.

For example, here in Australia, we’re used to Pay Wave, paying with our credit cards online, PayPal, and AfterPay. However, if you wanted to tap into the Chinese market, your payment options would look very different.

According to a report by Penguin Intelligent, 92% of people in China’s metro cities use WeChat Pay or AliPay as their primary payment method. While the rest of us were messing around with credit cards, China bypassed this method completely and went straight to mobile payments. In cities like Beijing and Shanghai, people don’t carry cash or credit cards – preferring to pay using QR codes and other mobile methods.

So, if you want to stand a chance in the Chinese market, give your customers the option to pay via mobile.

Manage delivery expectations

It’s different for us here in Australia. Unlike the US or European countries, anything coming from overseas tends to take a really long time and it’s just something we’ve come to expect. In fact, according to the Global Online Shopping Study, 82% of Australian shoppers reveal free shopping with a longer delivery time, as opposed to paid shipping with a shorter delivery time.

On the other hand, according to the MetaPack Consumer Research Report, other countries expected, not only same-day delivery, but one-hour delivery in metro areas. That’s right, this is the expectation for 85% of Spanish shoppers, 70% of the US, 59% of Italians and 56% of the French. In the same study, 34% of UK and US shoppers also wanted the option of weekend delivery. Many UK stores will even offer a time-slot for your delivery!

Meanwhile, here in Sydney, I’m hoping my package arrives at all.

The fact is that if you want to stand any chance of competing with other retailers, you’ll need to step up your game in terms of delivery times. Think about this when choosing your fulfilment locations. For example, if your fulfilment centre is in New Zealand it will take a lot longer for you to ship your products to a North American or Eurpean customer.  So what you may gain with having a favourable currency conversion you lose by having a very unattractive shipment time.

Are you speaking the same language?

Obviously, you’re going to want to have translations available, depending on the country of your user. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to navigate a website when you don’t understand the language.

However, I’m talking about some of the more subtle differences. For example, the US and UK might both speak English, but their sizing charts vary wildly. Meanwhile, words like pants and thongs might as well be in another language. I learned this the hard way when I asked my British cousin if he wanted to borrow my thongs.

Think about the way locals talk and make sure your website’s language reflects that. Alternatively, if you don’t have the ability to serve unique content to customers based on their IP, you’ll need to make sure that your web page has an “international appeal”  and avoid any wording that seems too localised.

We could go on for hours about the different things to consider when trading across borders. In the meantime, you can download this handy guide and find out more about how to expand internationally.