The SellerExpress Guide to Cross-Border Selling in Ecommerce

There are two kinds of online sellers in this world: those who sell within their nation’s or continent’s geographical boundaries, and those who don’t. If you’re thinking of exploring cross-border selling, then SellerExpress has just the guide for you. While wrapping your head around the process will involve learning new things, you’ll be sticking with essentially the same concepts you’ve been using all this time.

Acquaint Yourself with Payment Methods in Other Countries

Your first thought may be something along the lines of, ‘The entire world uses credit cards, so isn’t that good enough?’ Well, not exactly. Pitney Bowes wrote an interesting article that looked at the breakdown in payment methods in various countries, and the way the numbers stack up is a little surprising.

  • Spain: In La Furia Roja, the dominant way of paying online is to use either Visa, MasterCard or American Express. When it comes to online shopping, just about every single person uses one of these three cards.
  • Germany: The economically strongest country in the EU has just over a quarter of online shoppers (30%) using one of the big three credit cards — Visa, MasterCard, American Express — for ecommerce purchases.
  • France: The country of fine wines and cheeses lies somewhere in the middle of Spain and Germany, with about 60% of shoppers using a Visa, MasterCard or American Express to complete their online purchases.
  • Japan: Forget about credit cards — in Japan, where roughly 75% of people shop online, they have something called konbini. Konbini are essentially like convenience stores, with people finding a product they like online, taking the reference number to a konbini, paying for it there, and then having it delivered.
  • India: Cash is king here, as it is in other Asian countries. How it works is a shopper goes online, selects an item they want, and then pays for it with cash once it arrives on their doorstep.

So, in a nutshell, you’ll have to adapt your payment methods and processing to what’s the norm in other countries. While sites like PayPal have broadened payment universality, there’s still no one type of payment method that trumps all the rest in all the cases.

Don’t Let Yourself Be Surprised by Money Talk

Just as there’s no one universal way of paying, there’s also not a global currency. Some are pretty powerful and far-reaching, like the Euro or American dollar, but not every country uses it and you don’t want to limit your options by accepting only those two. And just to complicate matters further, currency values fluctuate. We’ve seen this most recently with the Russian rouble and how it got so unstable, Apple refused to sell to Russians.

Plus, you’ll also have to consider fees associated with shipping to cross-border buyers. One of the biggest things you’ll encounter is foreign taxes, all of which are inescapable. This is definitely one area where you do not want to be slippy on, as it’ll come back to bite you in the end. Pay taxes, full stop.

Learn How to Clear Customs Everywhere

There’s one word that sends shivers through just about every person, and it applies to buying, selling and travelling. It’s the Big C — Customs. Each country has their own regulations when it comes to customs and how to clear them, and you can very quickly find yourself with a boatload of unhappy buyers if you don’t know customs regulations like the back of your hand.

There’s also the idea of using a shipping service that’s already well versed in clearing customs, like UPS or FedEx. It’s their full-time job to send packages around the world, and you’d be saving yourself a lot of time (and potential headaches) by having them take care of the dirty work. Learning the rule book can take weeks, months or years, and that’s time you could be spending on attracting more cross-border buyers.

* This article originally appeared on SellerExpress

Countries: Far East, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, North America, South America, and United Kingdom
Topics: E-commerce
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