Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

The Guide to Cross-Border Commerce: Operational Considerations & Logistical Challenges

Corinne Watson / 56 min read
cross-border ecommerce

The Challenges & Opportunities of Cross-Border Commerce

More brands than ever are selling online, and with that comes a rise in online customers and sales.

Dominating your home market is a successful first step in any brand growth plan. You must look at your product fulfillment methods, go-to-market strategy, customer acquisition plans, and growth trajectory.

The majority of medium and large retailers in the US, UK, and Australia have traditionally been fearful of expanding into global marketplaces, since cross-border technology didn’t recognize the demands of larger catalogues and SKU counts. But recently, more technologies and strategies around international expansion have emerged, and brands are now making the move into untapped markets in Asia and other continents, which has resulted in a continuously-growing amount of revenue coming from online retail.

retail ecommerce sales

As businesses continue to grow, developing a Cross Border Trade (CBT) strategy is one of the considerations that often sets brands above their competition when it comes to revenue — but it is not without its challenges.

These challenges arise from shipping and logistics, customer demographic differences, and changing international customer expectations. A go-to-market strategy that works on one part of the globe doesn’t necessarily work in a different country, and it would be incorrect to assume so.

Year over year, more brands are climbing the hill and getting to the other side — while making more sales and reaching more international customers.

cross border ecommerce stat

This increase is in part due to the rising amount of people who have access to the internet. A 2019 study conducted by WeAreSocial concluded that global internet penetration exceeded 50% in 2016 and surpassed all benchmarks when considering the annual rate of change –– one that is expected to accelerate over the next 12 months alone.

The numbers are hard to ignore:

  • There are 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, an increase of 366 million (9 percent) versus January 2018.
  • There are more than 11 new internet users per second, which results in one million new users every day.
  • Global ecommerce spend has grown by 14% year-on-year.

europeans love to shop aborad

There’s no denying that technology is constantly connecting consumers to products, everywhere on the globe.

With more and more internet users appearing in countries everywhere, it’s time for single-country companies to explore international expansion.

With the increase in available cross-border selling technologies, brands are now able to:

  • Reach and study new demographics in different countries
  • Capitalize on the lower barrier-to-entry and decreased competition in smaller, developing markets
  • Create bifurcated go-to-market approaches within different countries
  • Simply manage cross-border shipping and logistics, thanks to emerging technologies.

Remember the statistic that global ecommerce spend has grown by 14% year-over-year. But ecommerce only accounts for 10% of retail spending. What does this mean for brands?

It means there’s a whole lot of opportunity to make a splash in ecommerce, no matter where you’re selling your products.

Do You Know Where Your Customers Are?

Perhaps you’ve already created a strategy for your homebase, or maybe you’re starting your marketing strategy from scratch.

If you’re not selling in international countries, you’re missing out on the potential customers that reside there. It’s that simple.

This guide is created for brands that want to capture that potential or better optimize their existing cross-border ecommerce strategies.

Technology has made it easy — you can simply upload your items to a marketplace and you’re off to the races. But that strategy lacks intention, and moving immediately to a marketplace places your brand in the hands of a distributor instead of you.

In the following chapters, you’ll learn exactly how to strategically grow in your target international areas, including:

  • Whether you should localize or use a single site
  • The logistics of a cross-border ecommerce strategy
  • How to master global payment logistics
  • How to sell to France, Germany, Italy, the US, and China
  • Marketing strategies for growing cross-border sales

Grab a coffee, kick your feet up, and dive in. It’s time for you to master your international growth.

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Corinne Watson

Corinne Watson

Corinne is a writer and researcher at BigCommerce, where she works directly with agency and technology partners to bring their tools, services and ideas to the commerce industry at large. Before BigCommerce, she was an education specialist at Skills Fund, where she built resources and ran trainings to give students access to life-changing skills. Corinne holds degrees in graphic design and psychology. After college, she transitioned into the marketing and research space through a self-taught mindset – and works to bring the value of that skill and mindset to others. When she’s not writing, she’s volunteering with nonprofit organizations, traveling the world, or digging into a new book.

View all posts by Corinne Watson

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