eCommerce businesses outside of the U.S. are becoming significant year on year.  This is a known fact as we get to see hard facts through various studies and reports.

  • Asia-Pacific will leapfrog North America to become the largest contributor in global eCommerce sales with $501.68 billion in 2014.
  • Global sales is projected to reach $1.85 trillion which will include $707 billion contribution from Asia-Pacific alone.
  • Add to this, the increase in eCommerce businesses and sales in Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries, as more and more users get access to high speed internet.

eCommerce businesses in the U.S. have somewhat been slow to adopt eCommerce strategy specific to other countries. As an example, thirty-two percent of top beauty retailers including big names such as Calvin Klein, Dior, Gucci, and Chanel do not have a Chinese-language site. These retailers are missing out on an opportunity to capture more sales in China; 20% of cosmetics sales in the country occur online, compared to 5% in the U.S.  Companies like Motorola have taken bold steps in launching their smart phones through online channels in emerging markets even before launching the products in the U.S.  eCommerce businesses in the U.S. have a real opportunity to expand their reach and establish a footprint in other markets based on the learning they have acquired.

9 key areas to consider for expanding eCommerce businesses outside the US

  1. Identify the markets for expansion based on the relevance of your offerings.
  2. Analyse the existing eCommerce businesses in the markets you are targeting.
  3. International regulations, import duty, legal and taxation policies can be complex while entering global markets. An experienced legal counsel’s help will be required to guide you through the evolving landscape of international eCommerce law.
  4. Discuss the options of a regional eCommerce site vs country specific site. Validate if the current eCommerce platform can support your global business need.
  5. Explore the language requirements for the markets you are expanding. If China, is in your list, you need to have the site presented in simplified Chinese script. Whereas if you want to launch in India, English language content will suffice.
  6. Identify the pricing options with respect to the countries. Users will always expect to shop for products in their local currency. Pricing can be addressed either by having an existing U.S. Dollar price list and converting them for the local currency or it could be a market based pricing.
  7. Choose the best payment option that the customers prefer most. ELV is popular in Germany, Alipay in China, iDeal real time bank transfers in The Netherlands. Connectors need to be developed with the eCommerce platform and the payment gateway.
  8. Shipping concerns are one of the dominant reasons for international cart abandonment. Choosing the best delivery service is key to establishing consumer confidence.
  9. Distribution is another critical area that will take up significant planning time.  As you may not have a local distribution center, it is advisable to identify a 3PL provider who can handle inventory, warehouse management and delivery.