The 411 on Foreign Ecommerce

So you’re running an ecommerce store and looking for new customers? Many businesses are taking full advantage of the world wide web by going, well, worldwide! China and India are prime examples of growing international markets currently being targeted by ecommerce titans and SMBs.

Still, this does not mean that the decision to extend your business overseas should be taken lightly. Obviously, engaging new customers leads to increased revenue but it can also create difficulties for vendors who are simply not prepared for international sales.

Below are a few things to consider before taking the plunge into foreign ecommerce.

International Shipping

Recent surveys show that consumers are doing most of their shopping online and the trend isn’t slowing down any time soon! But of course, there has to be some way of delivering those goods to consumers in a timely manner, one hopes.

Different shipping options are especially valuable for overseas deliveries which can often be much costlier and more time consuming depending on their country of origin. Keeping this in mind, it may behoove you to stick with the shippers you already know and trust. Delivery giants like FedEx, UPS and DHL all offer international shipping with a name you can count on.

However, some ecommerce vendors have found another way to reduce their own shipping costs and appease foreign customers. It’s known as ‘drop shipping.’

Drop shipping takes handling and delivery out of your hands entirely by sending customer orders directly to the manufacturer or warehouse of your choosing. This way, when a consumer makes a purchase, the package will be sent out immediately without additional steps on your end.

This solution isn’t for everyone. If you custom create your products, drop shipping isn’t really an option. But if you don’t, you can often find drop-ship vendors who ship internationally or are located in the countries you are operating in. Neat, right?

Processing Foreign Currencies

It is very important to think about the foreign markets you are trying to target. Not only from a marketing perspective, but also from a financial perspective. How are you going to manage so many different types of currency?

Some free ecommerce store platform providers like Shopify offer add-ons capable of converting currency automatically. These can be especially helpful for foreign shoppers who visit your page. Instead of seeing the price tag in US dollars, it will be instantly converted to match their IP address with a currency they are more familiar using. Another option is to adopt a third-party gateway, like PayPal or Square, to accept foreign payments without the headache of exchange rates.

Even so, it may be difficult to juggle various taxes, rules and regulation for each region you do business. Think about adopting additional add-ons to manage your books and track your orders to better manage your taxes.

Multilingual Customer Service

If you are considering branching out your business across the world, you will definitely want to revamp your customer service. Think about the customers and countries you are reaching out to and ensure that your store can handle customer requests in multiple languages.

Some point-of-service systems offer regional language packages to assist international ecommerce vendors. In contrast, small business owners might benefit from working with for-hire customer support teams to address consumer concerns. After all, breaking down language barriers is key to operating in a successful international market.

Now that you have some insights on managing international sales and providing the same kind of convenience and service to your foreign shoppers as your domestic ones, see what you can accomplish on the world stage.


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