Every entrepreneur dreams of having a super popular business, loyal customers and spectacular sales.
If you’ve reached a certain threshold with your business and want to grow more, your answer may lie… outside your borders.
Get cross-border sales and access international markets with the right strategy.
We discuss this topic in this article.
See exactly what steps to take, from market research, to legal issues for cross-border sales, logistics and marketing plan.
Are you up to the challenge?
Contents Cross-border selling: How to sell online internationally
Top benefits for cross-border sales
According to Statista, cross-border purchases account for 22% of eCommerce deliveries this year. That’s around $3.53 trillion.
The 3 main reasons why people buy from other countries are lower prices, the fact that the products are unavailable in their own countries and the fact that they can find unique products.
Therefore, e-commerce in international markets has a lot of advantages for you:
- You can increase sales substantially, accessing completely new markets.
- You can wide range of customers for types of products that are not so much in demand in Romania.
- You can increase your store’s profit, especially if you act ahead of your competitors.
- You can strengthen your brand and position in multiple marketswho perceive you correctly.
Read also: StartUp in eCommerce, new in unosoft Academy: online course for opening a shop in 30 days
How to do market analysis when you want to sell internationally
The first question when you want to sell cross-border is related to the market you want to access.
Which country or countries do you want to sell to?
From Romania, it is more recommended to go abroad, to neighbouring countries and to the European area.
This is due to the fact that our neighbours have markets relatively similar to ours, in terms of habits and demands.
You can contract a company or person in that country to help you with an analysis or report to see whether or not there is potential for you.
Also, answer the following questions about your potential outlet:
- What sells the easiest and the most in countries targeted for expansion?
- How does infrastructure? (keep account for logistics)
- Which are available methods of payment and transport?
- You have a legislative situation to encourage e-commerce and to facilitate the entry of foreign companies into the market, in order to contribute to their growth?
- What popular marketplaces are in the countries concerned?
Read also: What to sell online – How to find the most profitable products and business ideas
Expanding sales overseas, step by step
How to sell cross-border legally
We recommend to open a firm in your chosen country to avoid high repayment rates. Also open a bank account there for tax relief.
You should also be aware that you need to work with an accounting firm, and when your sales exceed the threshold for VAT payers in that country, VAT is payable in both the country where you live and the country where you sell.
If you want to sell in Europe, fortunately, for the most part the regulations have been harmonised with the introduction of the EU Consumer Rights Directive.
However, under the law applicable to contractual obligations, a seller must also choose a national law when selling to an international buyer and must inform the buyer of the law chosen.
Ordinarily, Terms and Conditions page is the most appropriate place to convey this information. If you do not set a national law, the law of the country your customer is from will automatically apply.
Furthermore, even if you have chosen a particular law, it does not mean that a customer loses the protection of his or her law. You have to take into account each law – take precautions, such as an extended warranty period.
Consider the following:
- Check the restrictions in each country where you want to sell – e.g. what is the VAT of that country, what additional product information you are required by law to provide, what data the Terms & Conditions page must contain, etc.
- Legal warranty and commercial guarantee – In most countries in Europe, a 2-year legal guarantee of conformity applies (with minor exceptions). This is different from the commercial guarantee, offered by you as the seller or buyer, but it gives people more reasons to buy, if you can.
- Terms and conditions – if you are selling in Europe, it will contain the data indicated according to the EU Consumer Rights Directive, the data according to the chosen national law, but it will also take into account the customer’s national law.
- Mandatory product information and data related to brands, energy class labels, instructions for use, safety and packaging – these differ according to the countries concerned
- Privacy and data protectionr – GDPR applies in European countries, which you surely know about if you already sell in Romania
- Alternative dispute resolution – make sure you post the link to the SOL platform or other ADR entity on your website.
Logistics for an online shop with cross-border sales
The easiest way to expand is to work with an internationally experienced e-fulfillment partner who can also help you with returns.
If you have your own warehouse in that country, you will also need an office there, to avoid huge return rate costs.
Before choosing a distribution solution, take into account the size of your company, the characteristics of your products/services, your business model and the preferences of the target audience in your chosen market.
Consider these transport, delivery and return methods:
- Delivery of products by post
- Pick-up points vs. delivery to the consumer
- 2 man team for delivery of heavy goods (keep in mind it costs more)
- Can I really deliver the products in my customer’s country?
- Delivery time: same week, next day, same day or 2 hours (you can deliver to Europe)
- Returns management
- For example: a customer in Germany orders a blender from you for 20 euros. Then he tells you that it broke shortly after it arrived. Will you have him send the blender back to you to check it? Or do you tell him to throw the product away and immediately send him a new one because that would be cheaper than sending it back?
- Collecting old equipment
How to choose eCommerce platform for international sales
Must be scalable – must allow you to grow, you want a platform which comes bundled with at least the standard functionality for cross-border sales, without having to download all sorts of applications:
Integrations (at no extra cost) with:
- Carriers – e.g. DHL etc.
- Payment processors – PayU, MobilPay, PayPal etc.
- E-fulfillment – e.g. Frisbo etc.
- Marketing applications and live chat
- Integrator for marketplaces: e.g. easySales
Must be flexible and allow you to sell, regardless of whether:
- You want a new site, independent, per domain with extension for each country;
- You want to modify the existing site by adding an extension with products for cross-border (new language, different currencies, different tax rules, different fees and variants for transport and payment etc.);
- Want to sell on the marketplace.
If you want to sell on the marketplace / on several marketplaces simultaneously (e.g. for market testing, for sales diversification), we recommend own logistics – own partnership with courier companies, independent from the marketplace (gives certainty that the final goal is achieved) → the product reaches the customer quickly, safely and with minimal costs.
Read also: How to choose the best platform for your online store – 9 questions
How to promote your shop cross-border
- Analyze your competition – Make a list of your main competitors in your target country in your niche, individual online and offline shops and marketplaces. Analyse their websites, offers, prices, strengths and weaknesses to see where you have opportunities.
- Focus on localization:
- Translations – translate text navigation elements and action buttons into the language of the country you are selling in. Translate and adapt alt-text and meta tags. Translate and adapt product descriptions. Take care to use the vocabulary, style, even jargon of the target population to better resonate with them.
- Address and phone number – if these items are local, it gives customers more confidence.
- displays prices in local currency – takes into account taxes/duties, but also the free-loading price (price of products + transport costs + insurance costs + customs duties + other costs, e.g. operating costs);
- correct transport time and costs, from the product page;
- usual methods of payment in the respective country;
- local proof of trust (local names for testimonials);
- locally preferred delivery options;
- an adapted reviews system to the language of the country you are selling in;
- pictures of the product in context, in process of use, from all angles and product videos/tutorials.
- Customer support – Hires native speakers (freelancers/specialized agency) and organizes an appropriate program to serve local clients. Also make sure you have a competent person for handling complaints and resolving out-of-court disputes.
Takes into account economic, religious, cultural factors that influence product and marketing campaigns:
- Call on a freelancer or specialized agency in the target country – will help you overcome the language barrier and create campaigns that are tailored to the needs of your target audience.
- Make use of location-specific events & holidays where you sell and take them into account to determine the message and duration of your campaigns (e.g. in a predominantly Catholic country, don’t focus on Orthodox Easter campaigns).
- Make your Social Media pages in the local language and create campaigns targeted to this audience.
- Make sure you only use appropriate images and materials socio-culturally in the target market.
- Don’t forget to target emotions – People are people, no matter where they are in the world, so their choices are governed by feelings and emotions. Use the principles of persuasion and use text, images, videos to arouse emotional reactions that lead to purchase.
- Don’t limit yourself to the product – Determine what types of products you sell and, more importantly, what lifestyle those products create. Formulate your unique brand proposition, mission, marketing campaign messages and brand style according to the lifestyle your products create, to have a unified communication and a homogeneous, easily recognisable brand, regardless of country.
Read also: 365 ideas for small and medium businesses [marketing & vanzari]
5 things to watch out for when selling cross-border
- Avoid copy & paste – don’t treat every country the same. Analyze the needs and characteristics of the population first, and then adapt the product descriptions, navigation, product images (try to present the products used by models in those countries).
- Attention to translations – Avoid shortcuts and Google Translate. Better hire native speakers to handle the texts on your website and especially customer support.
- Gravimetric weight and volumetric weight for transport – a box that is larger than it should be when packed no longer means “there is room for it by car/plane/ship”. Every element related to the weight and size of packages must be calculated to the decimal point. Check your carrier’s shipping policy and optimise your packing.
- Watch the weather – Don’t sell beach lotion to people when they’re pickled from head to toe. Pay constant attention to the weather and adapt your offers/marketing campaigns to meet your customers’ needs.
- Seasonality and local events – The more you get involved locally, the more reliable you will be. Follow local events, national days, traditions and customs of your chosen country as well as cultural norms. Adapt your communication accordingly.
If you want to start getting cross-border sales, these are the first steps to take.
There are many things to keep in mind. But customers are the same everywhere because they inherently experience the same kind of emotions.
You just have to be careful how you approach them, because they will respond to different stimuli.
Also, if you want to sell in international markets, you’re not alone. You have partners with whom you can discuss and collaborate so that your experience is not at all difficult and the results are extraordinary.
You just have to take the first step 🙂 .