The prospect of expanding to cross-border e-commerce can no doubt be tempting to any business.
Global e-commerce sales are projected to reach over $ 6.5 trillion by 2023. Technological advances, trade agreements and increased supply chain networking have brought global markets within reach.
According to the study The Global Voices 2021: Cross-Border Shopper Insights, 68% of surveyed shoppers made e-commerce purchases outside of their home country in 2020. The demand for cross-border offers is evident, but your company has the offer.
Selling across borders is undoubtedly a lucrative opportunity, but it can be tricky for the unprepared. However, with the right fundamentals and guidelines, selling in international markets can bring tremendous benefits to your business and take you to another level of success.
Let’s take a look at some common pitfalls of a cross-border ecommerce trip and how you can avoid them.
Your content is not localized
When entering new international markets and customer segments, you cannot skip localization. The purpose of localization is to offer international customers shopping experiences that are tailored to their culture and language.
Failure to localize the content of your ecommerce website can have a number of consequences. When buyers can’t understand your web content, your conversion rates and revenue suffer. You also run the risk of inadvertently being deemed insensitive to cultural differences.
1. Deploy a multilingual website.
Language is one of the most important elements in expanding into international markets. To achieve cross-border success, content must be delivered in a language that your target customers understand.
Research by the CSA showed that:
76% of online shoppers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language
- 40% of online shoppers surveyed do not buy from websites in other languages
While translating websites can seem like an intimidating task, there are a number of multilingual translation solutions that can make the heavy lift off your plate easier.
2. Customize images and other media content.
Locating the language on your website is a necessary first step, but it’s not the only thing you need to consider. It is recommended that you review all images and other media on your website to ensure that they are culturally appropriate and relevant. Otherwise, your target customers may become alienated.
A particular area of caution is the use of gestures. While the thumbs-up gesture is generally accepted as a sign of approval in the Western world, it is offensive in certain other cultures. In some countries – for example Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan – this can mean the same thing as the middle finger for Westerners!
You also need to take into account differences in holidays and seasonality. For example, a Christmas-themed advertising campaign would not make sense to shoppers in China because the majority of the Chinese population does not celebrate Christmas.
Fortunately, some multilingual translation solutions like Weglot can manage media localization in addition to website translation.
Your ecommerce checkout is not convenient
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when targeting international customers is using the same ecommerce checkout options that you offer domestically. This can increase the cart abandonment rate and decrease sales.
1. Enable payments in the local currency of your target market.
International customers generally do not make purchases in their local currency. A seamless shopping experience allows them to check out using their local currency – which helps them understand how much they are actually paying. So if you are selling to customers in China, having the option to pay in yuan is helpful as they may not know how the dollar is converted to their currency.
2. Specify local payment methods.
Personalize the shopping experience even further by accepting a wide range of payment methods.
Payment preferences can vary significantly in different geographic regions.
You did not consider tax complexity
They say that only two things are certain in this world: death and taxes. If you want to sell internationally, you inevitably have to budget for the tax complexity involved.
When selling across borders, additional taxes for import or excise duties may apply. Failure to understand the tax implications of your cross-border transactions can create a number of problems for you and your customers.
First, your customers may be subject to hidden taxes or duties that they were not aware of at the time of purchase – which can potentially impact international customer loyalty and brand loyalty.
In addition, your own business may receive notices from tax authorities about unpaid income taxes or duties that you may not have been aware of. These unforeseen costs can reduce profit margins and create liquidity problems.
1. Contact a tax advisor.
Before selling internationally, consult a professional to assess how taxes will affect your business and your customers and help you choose the best tax optimization strategy for the future.
2. Offer buyers complete tax transparency.
In addition, implementing a tax calculator at your e-commerce checkout can bring great benefits to your customers. This tool offers your international customers additional transparency with regard to costs and fees.
They didn’t take any logistical issues into account
Our last point of caution is never to overlook the importance of logistics planning – how you plan to get goods to your customers and how long it will take them to get there.
Customers expect a seamless shopping experience from online surfing to delivery. However, without strict logistics planning, customers can experience excessive delays.
1. Under-promises and over-fulfillment.
Promising too little and over-delivering is a cornerstone of Amazon’s success. You have to be realistic when submitting the estimated delivery times. Be careful to allow for any unforeseen delays.
In addition, you need a robust and reliable logistics network in each of your target markets. You can work with local logistics providers to make this process as easy as possible.
But first, it is advisable to do it step by step. Practical ecommerce recommends picking just one or two countries at the start of your cross-border trip and building from there.
Cross-border sales is the future
As our world becomes more global, cross-border e-commerce is increasingly becoming the norm for shoppers around the world. You need to do your due diligence and invest in early planning, but it will prove worthwhile. A seamless cross-border sales strategy can expand your customer base, increase sales, and increase your brand awareness around the world.
At Weglot, we are experts in providing a technical solution that allows you to easily deploy your business in multiple languages. Try it out or start a chat with us.