Converting your local-based online strategy to a cross-border e-commerce strategy may sound like a tough task to accomplish. Thankfully, making your e-commerce succeed has never been easier. Selling cross-border can result in brand awareness and bring you new customers who will potentially buy more and return less of your products.

The statistics on overseas online markets speak for themselves. According to a study by McKinsey Global Institute, global flows could double or triple by 2025. Furthermore, international e-commerce now represents more than 10% of all merchandise sold worldwide. Here are some of the tips you definitely want to follow to run a profitable international online business.

1. Research Local Demand

The first step to making your international e-commerce succeed is to get to know the buying trends of a foreign market. Customers in different countries have different purchasing habits. Certain goods sell better on the Internet, and certain don’t. Also, people place different values on a particular product.

2. Follow Each Country’s Regulations

Maintaining a proper e-commerce strategy means following each of your target countries’ specific regulations. A number of countries don’t allow for certain goods to be shipped within their borders. For an example, it is illegal to ship plants, plant material and soil to Australia. Egypt, on the other hand, prohibits shipment of smoked salmon.

Furthermore, some communication and cultural practices can restrict your business in a foreign country. For instance, in Asia, people prefer social media for communicating with brands.

Secondly, watch out for the tax issues regarding shipping. Some countries allow for the receiving items to be held in customs until the customer pays the applicable VAT. Others  stand by laws that require businesses to collect the tax while the purchase is made.

Lastly, ensure the buyer comfort factor by letting your sales taxes be transparent and understandable for the customers.

3. Choose a Trustworthy Payment Provider

Security plays a critical role in every customer’s decision process, so finding a reliable payment provider is crucial for your e-commerce to function. Two major aspects to take into consideration are the ease of use and the overall security. A trustworthy payment provider will take care of purchase protection and raise the buyer comfort factor.

Also, consider offering multiple payment methods once you grow your business. Online payment methods differ drastically by country. The most common online payment method in Norway, for example, is paying with bank cards, while in Hungary people choose to pay with cash on delivery.   

4. Accept Payments in Local Currency

Let’s face it, people are lazy by nature. Even though converting currencies has become a matter of a few clicks, people freak out when they see foreign currencies in their shopping cart.

If your customers are obliged to think about exchange rates, you might risk shopping cart abandonment. Do them a favor and do your business a favor by setting up payments in local currency, given that your payment provider allows other currency options.

5. Have Your Website Translated

Expanding your business comes with more elements to think of. Apart from optimizing your e-commerce site to comply with a certain country’s regulations, tradition and shopping preferences, you have to translate the website to  the local language. This option results in gaining more trust from the buyers.

In case you plan on using only English, make sure the site is free from complex phrases, jargon, and phrases only native speakers understand.

6. Invest in Marketing Overseas

Your product will hardly sell without a good marketing strategy. You must know the customers’ preferences and how much they are willing to spend. Make a proper plan, hire marketing experts and invest in quality overseas marketing campaign.

Also, translation has a considerable role in international marketing strategy. It is in your best interest to not repeat KFC’s international marketing fail where they translated their famous slogan „Finger-lickin’ good“ to „Eat your fingers off“ while expanding to Chinese market.  

7. Consider Local Return Option

Most international e-commerce owners don’t offer any local return options, and the return cost is often higher than the price of the item itself. Try offering buyers to return purchases to a local logistics center in a country where you sell the most. Customers feel most comfortable with multiple choices and local return option can be a great solution for bigger businesses.

8. Think about Selling in Smaller Countries

Cross-border e-commerce can profit in smaller countries. Why? They often don’t have as many retail options as others. They are also prone to buy from larger global markets like the U.S.  

When you determine the demand in your target country, you can notice the spending patterns of a certain society. Make use of that pattern and turn your international selling to a rewarding business by expanding to smaller countries.

9. Prepare for the Local Competition

The last obstacle for which you have to be prepared is the local competition. Despite the fact that you may be offering something unique, persuading a foreign customer to buy your product is not always easy.

The key to preparing for the local competition is to dive deep into their market and gather all the information needed. This includes the buying trends and different purchasing habits we mentioned in the first step.


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Running a profitable online business comes with its cost, but choosing the right steps can bring you exceptional results. In order to make your overseas e-commerce strategy succeed, there are certain rules to follow. The key point is that maintaining a successful international e-commerce business is not rocket science, it’s only a thought-out approach with a pinch of risk-taking.

What’s the most important way to prepare your cross-border e-commerce strategy? Tell us below or tweet us!