5 effective strategies for selling internationally.

Sep 14 2018 | By Melissa O’Malley, Director, Global Initiatives, PayPal

Did you know that, according to Forrester Research, cross-border B2C e-commerce is expected to more than double to reach $629 billion by 2021?
Yet despite all the tremendous growth opportunities in the global marketplace, there are still pitfalls that can interfere with your business’s global expansion. Luckily, there are a few ways you can help avoid those pitfalls and set yourself up for success when selling internationally.

1. Optimize your shipping and returns policy.

Shipping costs and return fees are the main factors deterring consumers from shopping cross-border, but it’s also something that can help you stand out if you offer free shipping. Survey results show forty four percent of cross-border shoppers chose free shipping as the number one reason to shop on a global online store. Even if you’re unable to offer free shipping, you can provide price ranges for shipping optionsAlso be sure to clearly state your return policy on your website to help avoid operational headaches and customer service challenges down the line.

2. Research local shopping trends.

As you look to sell cross-border, research your international customers’ shopping trends. While a product might be amust have in the U.S., it might not be a hit elsewhere. It’s important to understand local nuances and customs within countries when looking to sell overseas. Some of the top global categories for cross-border purchases include clothing/apparel, consumer electronics, travel & transportation, digital entertainment, and toys & hobbies. Consider references like PayPal PassPort where you can gather market intelligence and find the right opportunity.

3. Be transparent about taxes, duties, and other cross-border fees.

Taxes and duty fees are different country by country, and customers appreciate it when a site is upfront about all duties and taxes they should expect to incur with their order so theyre not surprised when it arrives. Almost a quarter of cross-border shoppers chose fees and taxes as a top barrier to shopping overseas. The time investment of being upfront will make a big difference in the back end, and shoppers will appreciate the honesty.

4. Localize for each target market.

When shopping internationally, seventy-six percent of shoppers would prefer a choice of whether to pay in local currency or in their own currency.1 And, almost half don’t even feel comfortable making a purchase in a foreign currency and chose this as a top barrier to shopping overseas. Customize your online shopping experience for international customers by offering website translations, local secure payment options, and pricing that reflects local market competition. Free plugins can help you easily do this.

5. Include multiple product images.

A picture is worth more than words in ecommerce, especially when a customer is shopping from overseas. Include at least three high-resolution images of the product, and specs in the description. You may even want to add images that give consumers the opportunity to virtually interact with the product or offer an augmented reality view of your product to increase engagement and sales.
There is no better time to take advantage of the growth of cross-border sales and start selling overseas. With these helpful best practices, businesses are set up to see success in the new year. 


The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent business, tax, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

1 On behalf of PayPal, Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample1 of c.1000-2000 (34,052 in total) adults (aged 18 or over) who use an internet enabled device in each of 31 countries (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Greece, Israel, UAE, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, South Africa, India, China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Philippines). Interviews were conducted online between 13th March and 1st May 2018.

Data was weighted in all countries to adjust for panel bias based on external trend data on incidence of online shoppers in each country.

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