nited Kingdom, France or maybe China? If you sell online and your business is thriving in Poland, you are probably thinking about expanding to new markets. Cross-border sales are currently one of the most important directions of development in e-commerce. No wonder, the global value of the e-commerce market is constantly growing, so it is a good time to start selling abroad. How to prepare for international sales and why choosing the right e-commerce platform is the key to success?
The popularity of shopping abroad is growing
Global e-commerce sales are estimated to reach $6.5 trillion by 2023, a huge increase from 2019, when online sales reached $3.5 trillion (source: Statista). This rapid growth has been influenced by, among other things, a pandemic that brought big changes for the whole world and left its mark on e-commerce businesses as well.
Consumers' shopping habits have changed as they have switched to online shopping and buy more and more online. But that's not all - it turns out that the freedom of shoppers to shop abroad has also increased. At the turn of 2020 and 2021 PayPal surveyed 13 markets (United States, India, Japan, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, Singapore, China, Australia, Hong Kong). The report prepared by the company shows that e-commerce customers are more likely to shop online in another country and also spend more than those who only store within a given country.
The growth of global e-commerce and changes in shopping behavior are opening up new opportunities for e-commerce owners who are preparing to sell across borders.
What should you know about selling online abroad? Some interesting data from the Commerce Without Borders report prepared by PayPal:
- Markets with potential. India, Brazil and Mexico, in particular, are more flexible when it comes to cross-border shopping. However, only 21% of Japanese consumers shop abroad online, with foreign purchases accounting for just 10% of the Japanese market. As far as European countries are concerned, the French are the most likely to shop abroad, according to 66% of the people surveyed, followed by the British (42%) and the Germans (37%).
- Marketplace platforms have become the number one destination for foreign shopping. Consumers in every market discussed in the report point to marketplaces as the main place where they shop abroad. Depending on the market, these platforms include eBay (UK, Germany), PriceMinister (France), Flipkart (India), Amazon (Hong Kong) and others.
- Customers plan to buy from overseas in the future. According to the same survey, 26% of consumers who buy online say they intend to start buying from foreign sellers between 2021 and 2022. And as for those consumers who already shop abroad - they admit they intend to increase their shopping in other countries.
Get to know your foreign customers
Before you decide to sell internationally, in addition to preparing the business strategy itself, take a look at the specifics of your customers in that country. To start, you should know what motivates them to shop abroad. There are three reasons for this: lower prices, discovery of new and interesting products, and access to goods that are only offered locally in a given country. Depending on the market, the order of these needs changes, but all over the world there is a steady increase in consumer demands for online shopping. They want to buy faster, more conveniently, more safely, but they also pay special attention to companies' care for the environment and acting in accordance with the principles of social responsibility.
What aspects are important to consumers when shopping abroad?
- Store availability in a country's language. Based on a survey of 8,709 global consumers in 29 countries, CSA Research reports that 65% of consumers prefer content in their language, even if it is of low quality. Moreover, 40% will not make a purchase on websites in other languages. This is also confirmed by other surveys, such as the one conducted by Flow.io, according to which one in five respondents said that the lack of language translation is a major obstacle to making a purchase on a foreign website. When it comes to the content of the online store, most shoppers felt that translations into local languages of product descriptions and reviews and the payment process were most important. Of course, language requirements vary from market to market. Nevertheless, this is an important aspect when it comes to selecting e-commerce tools that can optimize the translation issue (PIM, e-commerce platform).
- Barriers to making a purchase cross-border. When it comes to consumers who do not shop online outside of their home country, their biggest concerns are high shipping costs and long wait times for products to arrive. Consumers are also deterred from shopping abroad by high tax and customs fees and concerns about in-store security. It is worth being aware of these issues to be able to better prepare your offer for foreign customers.
- Technology to support the convenience of online shopping. E-commerce innovations such as branded shopping apps, PWAs, 5G and social shopping are making it easier for people to shop with their phones. M-commerce is another trend that is growing in strength, with online shoppers preferring to use smartphones - in the 13 markets surveyed by PayPal, an average of 43% of people choose them (meanwhile, laptops are only 26%). This trend forces e-commerce business owners to be technologically prepared and strategic when choosing a sales platform, but also when creating the entire architecture of the e-commerce system.
Before starting to sell abroad, it is important to analyze the target market for some of the most important factors such as delivery, payments, currencies, and translations into other languages. You may need to migrate to a better e-commerce system or add some tools to your current one.
Questions to ask yourself before expanding into new markets:
- What payment methods are preferred in your country? Will I need a new solution to handle payments from abroad?
- What is the tax situation abroad, are there any special cases that I need to take into account? Is my e-commerce platform prepared for this?
- Do I need to use other currencies, and if so, are they supported by my current payment providers?
- Does the available platform give me the possibility to automatically translate the service or do I have to translate it myself?
- Can I make deliveries overseas or do I need new solutions for this? What are the costs of overseas delivery?
Shopware 6 supports international sales
From a strategic standpoint, it is extremely important to select an e-commerce platform and look at it for solutions and the ability to accommodate sales in multiple markets. Features such as the ability to easily create new stores in different languages, multi-currency sales settings, marketplace integrations, and translations will be essential. If you plan to expand internationally - pay attention to whether the store platform ensures scalability and growth of your business regardless of which country you plan to sell in.
Currently, one of the most interesting platforms in the e-commerce market is Shopware. This solution supports brands in delivering an exceptional shopping experience across multiple sales channels (omnichannel). This platform offers everything that merchants need to move the store closer to customers and start selling globally.
The advantages of Shopware for selling overseas:
- Prepare for the different legal and tax requirements found in other countries.
- Ability to sell in multiple currencies and languages.
- Rule-based pricing and checkout configurations for different markets.
- Selecting sales channels for each country and adjusting them for country requirements.
- Easy connection to the marketplace e.g. Amazon, eBay.
- Tools to facilitate the development of sales in social media (social commerce), integration with profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.
- Tools for easy creation and management of content (creating landing pages or adjusting content to a given sales channel).
- Mobile sales support (m-commerce) - Shopware offers a PWA solution that makes shopping on mobile devices easier and faster.
- PayPal payment module to facilitate international sales - gives you access to the most important and popular payment methods and access to over 100 currencies and 200 markets worldwide.
Brands are choosing Shopware
Shopware is a solution that can be used by companies of all sizes, from mid-market to enterprise. One example of a brand that has used Shoprawe 6 for cross-border sales is Husse, a Swedish manufacturer of pet food (cats, dogs, horses). As a result of the pandemic, the company had to adapt quickly to online sales and was able to undergo a digital transformation in a relatively short time thanks to the Shopware platform. The implementation of the Shopware 6 platform enables Husse to sell online in 6 markets] (Poland, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Croatia, UK).
For more details, see case study: implementing Shopware for a pet food manufacturer.
Without a doubt, e-commerce opens the door to reaching international customers, and selling across borders has become a natural stage of business development today. At the same time, the dynamics in this sector make it challenging for sellers to keep up with the ever-changing e-commerce landscape. Betting on a robust and reliable sales platform is one of the key factors for conducting a successful cross-border expansion.