One may think that running an online business is quick and easy as the biggest headache of building up a physical store, maintaining and running it is not there. Well, guess what, eCommerce is no child’s play. Since everything from selling to buying happens on an online platform, there are lot many challenges to face, and if its cross-border eCommerce we are talking, then the effort needs a bigger push.
What is Cross-border eCommerce?
Cross-border eCommerce is an international expansion of local online trade. It can be referred to as online trading between B2C, B2B, or C2C across two countries. People today don’t just buy whatever is available or offered to them. They are in fact, taking an interest in looking beyond their homeland, comparing goods and services for best deals which have given cross-border eCommerce a sudden weight in the market.
Over the past few years, cross-border eCommerce has grown exponentially, thanks to the borderless potential of the digital economy, the rising popularity of tablets and smartphones, instant social media connect, flexibility to shop independently via PC, laptop, mobile phone or tablet at any place, anytime, anywhere, etc. International ecommerce is, in fact, a massive opportunity for manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors to sell their products at wholesale/retail prices to the buyers and make more profits from the global market and establish themselves as an International brand, right from their native country.
What are the challenges for cross-border eCommerce?
Although there are multiple benefits one can gain from cross-border eCommerce like; international business expansion, increased revenue, high-demand and sale of low demand domestic ecommerce products, brand awareness, increased access to end and international customers, high probability of business sustenance, etc., there are challenges in this deepening gold mine too. One is how to carry out the cross-border eCommerce and secondly, the management of logistics between them.
How to overcome the hurdles of international eCommerce?
There are many roadblocks in cross-border eCommerce which fortunately can be cleared easily. Let’s understand each and know how you can survive them.
#1. Does the international customer need your product/services?
Research first whether your product or service is beneficial to the country you are targeting. If yes, then know the targeted region entirely first. Seek local help from the country you are planning to expand your business to and analyze and understand their local business customs, consumer preferences and cultural differences, product demands, spending ability, and most importantly the local logistics and delivery services because ultimately the success of any eCommerce depends on its product reach.
#2. The international shipping can be scary
The shipping cost is the one every online consumer is afraid of. Merchants who offer free or cheap delivery attract more consumers hence, plan out your shipping timelines and tax to your international customers accordingly. Figure out whether offering free will be feasible for you as a seller or not. If no, then set up a minimum order value below which you can charge the shipping cost. Also, inform them of the approximate waiting time for the product to reach them, so they don’t get frustrated with unexpectedly long shipping and fulfillment times.
#3. Make things common
Cross-border means diversity in everything, from language to product choices to currency. Everything is different between the two nations, and in order to connect with your international customer, you need to make things familiar in your eCommerce site. Start with the language. Either, have one standalone site with content that fits for all having a software plugged into the front-end that translates all of the text on the page or make multiple sites and localize content if you can afford and manage them all.
#4. Let them pay as they like
One of the biggest challenges is the payment. Currency conversion is the most hated and tedious task for the consumers as everyone prefers to pay in their local currency. The biggest reason why the majority of the cross-border shoppers tend to abandon their cart at checkout is that they don’t have the comfort and convenience of paying in their currency of choice using a preferred payment method.
You can equip your mobile commerce solution with multi-currency conversion options or even integrate the worldwide online payments system – PayPal which is a preferred option for global payments. Provide a secure payment gateway since the fear of online frauds is another major drawback for the success of cross-border eCommerce. Also, make sure you are offering one or more payment methods – for example, credit-debit cards, money wallet, even cash-on-delivery.
#5. Deliveries, returns, and refunds
Before you prepare for cross-border deliveries, check whether your product is fine to be shipped there as certain products are either restricted or require a special license to be imported while others may be strictly prohibited. Map out the duties and taxes to be paid for shipping. Stay updated with local logistics regulations in each country and abide by local security laws. Provide proper tracking, fast delivery, and type of carrier options.
Remember, the infrastructure of all countries is not the same. Due to some off-road areas, you may require to take care of the last-mile delivery because if the product doesn’t reach your customers, they will also won’t reach you ever again. Partner with domestic and regional carriers, local couriers and crowd-sourced independent contractors to deploy in-house last-mile delivery solutions.
Processing international returns are not as easy as it sounds. Along with increased online purchases, so too come more returns and to prevent loss of customers, return policy and services have to be much in favor of the customers only. Display return period along with the product beforehand to avoid any disputes, encourage customers to go through your return policy while making the purchase, provide pre-printed returns labels and re-sealable packaging in parcels, choose an express carrier who are more reliable with tracking and have the ability to handle any customs issues, if the value of the item is less than the shipping cost, it might be best just to send a replacement free of charge instead, provide an option to return merchandise to a nearby physical location, and inform the time-period for the refund to reach customer.
Cross-border eCommerce may seem confusing and intimidating at first, but it is not an impossible job. There is no challenge that cannot be mastered. You can create your free ecommerce app ready for cross-border shipping by approaching MobiCommerce who offer complete ecommerce app development solution that will give you happy returns.
About the Author!
Rakesh Jain is the co-founder and CEO of MobiCommerce, a leading multi-vendor marketplace software solutions provider. When he is not busy taking the company to newer heights, he writes for top publications, teaching eCommerce store owner’s different ways to manage, grow and scale their business.