The Cross-Border E-Commerce Checklist for Small, Mid-Size, and Enterprise Businesses

If you’ve decided to take the next step for your retail business and go international, congratulations. You’ve made one of the smartest decisions possible for your business.

The cross-border e-commerce industry is making massive strides in the wake of 2020’s pandemic that forced brick-and-mortar shops to close – opening up more online retail opportunities. Statista predicts that e-commerce retail purchases will rise from 14.1 percent of worldwide retail purchases to 22 percent in 2023. It’s clearly a pivotal moment to think about going international. 

But there are many considerations to factor in before you do, and they differ if you’re a small business, mid-size operation, or an enterprise.

Below, we dive into the essential items to check off your cross-border e-commerce list and how each varies according to the size of the business.

The Essential Checks for a Small E-Commerce Business Going Global

Scalable resources

One of the greatest challenges of running a small business is handling the balance of incoming business with the number of people needed to handle that business. The conundrum is typically this: You want to hire more people to handle increases in business, but you can’t hire those people without the cash on hand first. This issue often means small businesses are running on the fumes of their barebones staff – not a structure that will support international efforts. Small businesses must first consider if they are prepared to bring on enough people to manage the growth that will come with cross-border e-commerce.

The right technological tools

One crucial component of scalability that will especially help small businesses go international is technology. With the right software solutions, small businesses won’t have to hire many more people to handle cross-border selling. Instead, the technology will automate work otherwise done by humans, and it will simplify processes such as figuring out local payment options and personalizing website experiences for local customers.

Market research

Small businesses need to conduct some basic market research before launching a cross-border initiative to ensure they won’t hit insurmountable roadblocks such as product restrictions in certain countries. Take care to research into states within those countries that might have their own restrictions against some of your products before making the leap. It’s a good idea to do additional research into cultural preferences in your target markets for your product so you can be sure you’ll see healthy demand once you go cross-border.

What Mid-Size E-Commerce Businesses Going International Should Consider

Marketing for new markets

Mid-size businesses have more well-known brands to consider than small businesses, which means they must emphasize how their message gets communicated globally. Branding and messaging in the U.S. may not necessarily resonate with customers in India, China, or Russia – for example – because of cultural differences. Consider your new target audiences’ localization and adjust your messaging accordingly across your marketing materials, strategies, and website.

Pricing concerns

Your mid-size business likely has more flexibility with how it arranges pricing because you’re not as cash-concerned as smaller businesses. That means you should carefully consider the tax, duties, and shipping costs to see what types of pricing you can offer customers in new countries. Are your target markets set on free shipping? Do they expect items delivered rapidly? Considering these preferences will help you cater to your new audience. 

Technology to simplify all of the above

Similar to small businesses but with a different angle, mid-size businesses must consider how technology’s role can help them address all these challenges. E-commerce software can help you streamline your messaging across your website to customize it for local preferences. It can also help navigate the details of shipping cost structures and local tax and duties.

Enterprises’ Must-Haves for Cross-Border E-Commerce

Outsourced help – especially for customer service

Bigger companies with deeper pockets have the opportunity to outsource certain operations that will make their cross-border initiatives speedier and more effective. Customer service is a big one. When customers call your business with an issue, they want to talk to someone they identify with, which can be difficult to do if there are language barriers or other confusion. 

A repeatable strategy

As soon as an enterprise can cement its brand in one international market, they can use similar strategies to roll into others. While, of course, you should consider that not every detail of one country’s rollout will mirror others’ because of local restrictions or specifications, you can create a template of operation that helps you repeat major actions. With a repeatable launch strategy, the world is your oyster.

Advanced technology

Like small and mid-size businesses, enterprises need to consider how technology can help them address cross-border selling’s unique challenges. E-commerce software can help with online self-service customer support and automation that streamlines those repeatable launch strategies.

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Juliana Pereira

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