Taking your business online opens a pandora box of opportunities for your brand. For one, you’re no longer just selling to customers around your location. You now have the ability to sell the world over! But when setting your business up for cross border eCommerce, it is important to understand it in totality.
That’s why in this guide, we’re going to walk you through what cross border eCommerce is, how you can set up cross border eCommerce on Shopify and a few best practices as well as tips to help your brand grow globally!
Already know about cross-border eCommerce and want to get ready to sell internationally? Reach out to the Shopify experts at XgenTech to get things up and running in no time.
What is cross border eCommerce?
Cross border eCommerce simply refers to the process of selling your products via an online store to buyers overseas.
For instance, you can be a physical, brick and mortar store or a purely online business using a platform like Shopify and have the ability to not just reach international markets but also actually make a sale.
Why should you explore cross border eCommerce for your Shopify store?
According to a report published by Zion Research, the total value of all global cross border eCommerce is expected to reach over $4 trillion by 2027. The growth rate is expected to increase at a CAGR of 27.4% now owing to the shift in consumer behaviour and preference to digital buying.
Another study carried out by Visa shows that cross border eCommerce sales are expected to have an explosive growth. Their study suggests that 66% of eCommerce businesses are already selling cross-border and 87% of them believe that expanding their sales into new markets has helped their business grow dramatically.
And if you’re wondering just how many consumers are really willing to buy from brands overseas, you’ll be surprised!
57% of online shoppers have actually made a purchase from an overseas retailer. They say it gives them more variety when it comes to the products they want to buy and even a sense of exclusivity.
Well, with a platform like Shopify, you’re already half equipped to start selling internationally. But let’s walk you through the first steps you need to take before cross-border eCommerce.
Ready to sell cross-border? Get your Shopify store set up to sell internationally with XgenTech.
How to set up your Shopify store for cross-border eCommerce?
Step 1 - See if you’re really ready to sell cross-border
Are you ready to sell cross-border?
The very first question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re ready to sell to international customers. The best way to know that is when you have established a good hold on your local/ home market - that is, the place where your brand started. That is an indicator that you have either already or are about to saturate your available market opportunity and it’s time to expand your operations to a new market.
Do you have the resources to sell internationally?
When you start selling online, you’re going to feel an additional strain on the resources available to you. From monetary to the team available to handle new customers, take a rain check on everything.
What is your goal from selling internationally?
Ask yourself why you want to sell internationally. It could be something as simple as more brand recognition or building a bigger bottom line for your business. Define your goal before you begin.
Step 2 - Find your next target market
Let’s say the answers to above indicate that you’re ready to sell in international markets. But the next step needs to be to plan your move step-by-step; that is, knowing which new market you want to explore.
A good way to know which markets have demand for the products you sell is using Google Trends. The tool indicates the popularity of a given search query over time, giving you a starting point as you figure out your viability.
Always look for an upward trend for the search query that defines your product the best. A dipping graph indicates loss of consumer interest in the product and higher struggle to sell.
Step 3 - Configuring your Shopify store to make international sales
Once you have identified your next target market, you need to start preparing your online store for this new audience.
While Shopify makes it really easy to configure your online store to sell to newer markets with the help of smart settings and apps, there are a few things you need to ensure you have in place before you begin your promotional campaigns.
- Set up international domains to convey a more local feel to your brand
- Translate your Shopify store using language-apps to ensure you’re speaking the new market’s language
- Set up multi-currency on your Shopify store to enable easy payments from new customers
- Set up local payment methods as your new target market may not prefer the ones already on your store
- Install the Geolocation app
- Calculate and estimate the cross border eCommerce duties on orders placed
- Optimize your checkout process to incorporate international address formats which may vary from country to country
- Optimize your store for the local search engine queries by focusing on SEO
- Ensure you have a customer support team and app in place to address incoming queries and concerns
- Clearly mention your return, refund and exchange policies to avoid purchase anxiety
- Begin your marketing campaigns on social media and search (organic and paid)
Step 4 - Understand the tax implications of international selling
When you’re running a business online, it’s important to ensure you’re playing by the rules set by the government. Especially when you’re moving beyond your home grounds!
So before you start selling cross-border, ensure you have a good understanding of your tax responsibilities. These may differ from market to market based on the location you’re expanding to.
We would actually recommend getting help from a taxation professional just to ensure you have gone through the right steps to register for selling in a new market. This may come across as an additional cost in the beginning, but it will ensure you’re not missing out on a critical piece.
Step 5 - Getting your invoicing right for international markets
The moment you start selling internationally, you will realise that your new customers are asking for ‘invoices’. This is because they don’t have your physical address in close reach and they need something to assure them that the purchases they have made are on safe grounds.
Call it their backup!
Now most invoices contain certain pieces of common information. For example, a simple title ‘Invoice’ indicating what the document is, business name, registered address, the recipient name and address (customer), purchase details, date of order and the total amount paid, are some of the common things every invoice includes.
But certain countries have specific requirements for invoices as they are legal documents. This includes things beyond just the translation of the invoice language, to include fields such market taxation and more.
A good idea here is to use a Shopify app like Sufio or Invoice Falcon. They come with ready-to-use and customizable invoice templates for Shopify stores, for different markets based on the compliances that need to be taken into account.
Step 6 - Setting up international shipping
Shipping is a very critical part of cross-border eCommerce success of your Shopify store. Before you even begin starting to sell internationally, you need to ensure you have the right shipping partners in place that can take the orders and deliver them in time, as well as safely, to your new customers.
Seek out local delivery partners, their serviceability and ensure you have an estimated shipping costs for all the regions you cover along with delivery durations.
This will help you clearly communicate how long an order might take to reach the customer when an international purchase has been made, as well as the additional costs they may incur.
If your international market grows within a specific region, you may want to consider setting up local fulfilment and multi-origin shipping on your Shopify store.
Should your Shopify store be selling cross-border?
Well, come to think of it, as most of our purchases move online, it is an opportunity for businesses to tap into markets beyond their own realm.
But of course, this does depend on what you sell, who your ideal customer is and what your business growth plans look like. So the answer to this question may vary from brand to brand, industry to industry, and personal goals!
Setting up cross-border eCommerce and starting to sell to an international market is a big decision for any business.
While platforms like Shopify make it really easy to set up cross-border selling, it is important that you’re absolutely thorough with your planning.
Something that we as Shopify experts recommend is expanding your international market bit by bit. Following a systematic approach will ensure you don’t spread your efforts too thin or drain your resources trying to acquire newer markets!
Ready to start selling cross-border or need help setting things up on your Shopify store? We’d be happy to help.
If you’re a business that is scaling massively to international markets, we also recommend making the move to Shopify Plus. To know more, get in touch with us.