The 5 step guide to a winning cross border commerce strategy

January 15, 2021
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Introducing your products to new markets comes with major challenges. Having a defined, detailed, and tested entry strategy is key in order for cross border commerce to be successful. The logistics of expanding your shipping are of course very important and shipping will be an important part of your strategy. The focus of this article is how to build a clear and well thought out strategy in terms of getting people to buy your products in other countries. For this, you’ll need to focus on a few key objectives:

Five Steps for Success at Cross Border Commerce

Identify target markets and marketplaces, which will help you sell in those markets. Identify channels you will use to sell in those markets.

Any cross border commerce initiative should start by finding out which products are in demand in other countries? This will help you understand which the lucrative markets to aim for are.
Marketplaces are the most efficient approach and it is best to focus on the channels that you may already be using in your home country. Leveraging the power of online marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, and Rakuten is an excellent way to easily introduce your products to millions of customers in new markets because these are marketplaces they trust.

Amazon, for example, has successful, reputable marketplaces in 11 different countries, and customers purchasing from 180. This means if you’re already selling on Amazon in your home country, achieving global product visibility could be as simple as adapting your feed to the target country’s language and unique category requirements.

Identify shopping and marketing channels in your target country

Apart from these marketplaces, there are additional channels you can leverage to take your products global. First and foremost should come the research into which are the right sales channels for your products in the new markets you want to reach out to.

Google Shopping is available, and popular, in 43 countries around the world. Google also helps its advertisers expand internationally with offerings like currency conversions and shipping cost transparency to inform customers exactly how much they’ll be paying.

In deciding which channels to leverage in foreign markets, there are many considerations, including:

Think about what channels the current competitors in your niche are utilizing in the new markets. Which are your products are in demand in your chosen markets, what marketplaces and sites consumers use to find products, how are your competitors approaching this market and most importantly will you actually be able to ship to your chosen country?

Understand Localization Requirements

Even with a complete channel portfolio, your cross-border ecommerce efforts would be incomplete without distributing localized and channel-ready product feeds to each touchpoint. Localization of your product feed will differ between channels and categories and also between countries. This means your product data feeds will need to be tailored in a number of ways.

Instead of starting from scratch, you may be able to transform an already existing product feed to meet the requirements of the new channels. Your Google Shopping feed, for example, could be duplicated, tailored, and localized to fit the format of a new channel like Facebook.

Your product data will need to meet the requirements of the new channel or market. For example, it would not make sense to display US product sizes to customers in France. It is also important to identify key holidays within each region that can be used to leverage higher sales and run marketing campaigns.

If you currently gain a lot of your traffic and revenue from search engines, or social media advertising, think about how countries differ in the way they describe features and products. Even if the language is the same, the information they want to know and the interests in your products may differ from your existing markets. Think about if you are using the right terminology: How are your competitors describing products similar to yours? Pay attention to these as they could include valuable keywords that you aren’t yet familiar with.

Pricing and positioning strategy

Analyze your international competitors: Identifying and analyzing your competition is absolutely essential in order to understand what makes a strong market approach. Your products need to be visible in order for customers to purchase them. This makes a diverse distribution network absolutely essential for success with international ecommerce.

Pricing: You’ll want you’re pricing to be around the same if not better than your competition, especially when you’re just starting out in a new market. This can be made simple with integration with a technology partner which allows you to import competitor pricing directly into your product feed.

Before diving headfirst into a new market, it’s best to test the waters and see how your products will be received. Consider introducing only a few products at a time, rather than all at once. By starting off slowly, you’re able to leave the market without much loss if it proves unsuccessful. Testing will also provide you with further knowledge of the market, allowing you to optimize your other listings if needed before they go live.

Moreover, you’ll want to make sure your entry strategy is agile enough to adapt as you go. You may find that key product information like language, price, etc. needs to be adjusted and you should be prepared to do this quickly. This is one area where powerful feed management software proves very useful.

Identify Partners in Your Supply Chain

Finalize warehouse partners, and put in place partnerships with marketplaces and brand distribution companies. Make sure that you have completed all local and legal tax compliance activities in order to abide by the regular changing laws. Furthermore, as with any part of an eCommerce business, they should be as transparent as possible when it comes to communicating policies and changes regarding cross-border commerce.

ECommerce merchants and suppliers need to keep up to date with national and international regulations regarding shipping, transportation and returns. Selecting the right 3PL partner can provide valuable support in terms of order and inventory management, payment reconciliation and returns management.

The solution to logistical and compliance problems can lie in integration through tech platforms which involves integrations with marketplaces and 3PLs / Distribution Partners


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