Cross-border commerce – buying or selling products from a country other than your own – is growing rapidly: from $315 bn worldwide in 2021 it’s predicted to reach $630 bn in 2022, meaning that the rate of cross-border commerce is twice that of domestic e-commerce. In Europe alone, cross-border commerce represents more than a quarter of the global e-commerce turnover, and it is expected to grow even further.
For buyers, indulging in cross-border commerce has become commonplace behaviour: one-third of online shoppers said they have done so, and 50% of shoppers plan to do more in the future. For sellers, selling abroad is the single most obvious way of increasing your pool of potential customers, and doing so is more accessible than ever thanks to marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Zalando, Decathlon etc.
While cross-border commerce is now an opportunity that’s difficult for sellers to pass up, selling in multiple countries is not without ongoing complication, requiring proper understanding, anticipation and planning. Among the new challenges are the likes of currency, language, payment methods, logistics, duty and import taxes, and customer service/consumer law.
Here at Lengow, we understand all these challenges – and how to overcome them. Here are our top five tips for success with your cross- border commerce strategy.
Don’t forget that, when you start selling internationally for the first time, recognition and understanding of your brand may start from a low base. We recommend building your international audience on your main social and Google Shopping channels, and using embedded features that promote social shopping to generate conversions and boost sales on your e-commerce website. For example, Dynamic Product Ads on Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram Shopping Ads.
Using the automation features and feed optimisation capabilities of the powerful Lengow platform, Nespresso built a successful omnichannel strategy in 35 countries within a matter of months. In particular, Nespresso was able to develop shops on Pinterest local to each market, and to increase the number of visits to its website.
Key Lengow tip: Publish your ads on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Tiktok, using their latest social commerce features.
Preparing to sell cross-border is expensive and resource-intensive. We recommend considering marketplaces as a first step: choose a local marketplace or a global one, and measure market reaction without having to invest time and money in developing a multilingual site. Many of the top global marketplaces make great cross-border partners, thanks to their existing digital infrastructure, knowledge of the market and huge shopper numbers.
This is no ‘second choice’ solution: marketplaces accounted for more than 59% of European cross-border e-commerce volume in 2021!
Using the extensive cross-border commerce capabilities of the powerful Lengow platform, JUNIQE has optimised its catalogue of 50,000 products, and has efficiently gained better control of its activities across six marketplaces in four European countries.
Key Lengow tip: our powerful platform enables you to connect you to more than 200 marketplaces, both global and local. Your options include Amazon, Zalando, eBay, YOOX, Decathlon, Maisons du Monde, AliExpress, Inno, OTTO, Bol.com, Kaufland, Allegro – discover more about these and many more on our Marketplace Finder.
Localisation of your content is key: 92% of customers prefer to make purchases in their own currency, and almost half have only ever purchased a product described in their own language. Currencies, languages and even payment methods need to be adapted to build credibility in new markets and ensure you remain competitive against local vendors.
Vente-Unique maintains no fewer than 117 active feeds in 9 different countries. Ordinarily this would take resources beyond its reach – but the adaptability, speed of implementation and multiple optimisation options of the Lengow platform have enabled Vente-Unique to easily create and publish catalogues perfectly adapted for each new partner, enabling it to successfully sell in many countries.
Key Lengow tip: On the Lengow platform, use the Additional Sources function to enrich your product catalogue. This adds your translations to product sheets, without touching your source catalogue. You can also apply different price points and employ different currencies in each market.
Purchasing trends, culture, and even laws may be very different from one country to another. We advise getting to know your new international market(s), including what your competitors are doing. Adjust your communications – whether text, images or video – to meet the expectations of your new audience.
Miliboo sells cross-border in four countries, on 21 marketplaces – the outcome of a strategy that included adding eight new marketplaces in a year. It achieved this by using the Lengow platform to segment its product catalogue and ensure that the right products are sold on the most appropriate marketplace. For example, end-of-line products are sent to Veepee, while distribution on ManoMano – which receives a lot of traffic from DIYers – affords access to a cohort of customers entirely different from its usual target audience.
Key Lengow tip: Follow Miliboo’s example and adapt your product feed to your audience. Segment your product catalogue to choose the most relevant products to publish or exclude for each country or each marketplace. Make this easier by using the Lengow platform’s Automated Rules feature: it reduces manual work and optimises your ads and product sheets for each of your markets.
Bonus tip: Netrivals is Lengow’s new price and competitive intelligence solution, which automates the benchmarking of each of your markets. Having the latest product and price information across your markets enables you to make better decisions for all each product in your catalogue.
Your new customers will still expect their new purchases to arrive in a timely manner, so shipping is key! We advise carefully planning all aspects of logistics and fulfilment, bearing in mind that this may be hard and might involve high costs or long delivery times – be mindful of the customer experience. Perhaps you will choose to ship products to your target countries directly, or to partner with a third-party logistics service. Several marketplaces offer fulfilment to brands and retailers on their platform.
Key Lengow tip: The Lengow platform is currently compatible with multiple marketplace shipping services, including Amazon, Cdiscount, ManoMano, Zalando and Leroy Merlin. Ship your products to the marketplace, and it will take care of storage, delivery, customer service, and returns management.
There isn’t much low-hanging fruit left for e-commerce professionals to pick. Might cross-border commerce be the last piece? Remember: for buyers, indulging in cross-border commerce has become commonplace behaviour, and it’s the single most obvious means of increasing your pool of potential customers.
Typically, of course, ‘obvious’ doesn’t always mean ‘easy’. But with advice, planning – and, yes, Lengow’s powerful platform to remove much of the complexity – it’s a route to unlocking your online potential that warrants your serious consideration.
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