Using Ecommerce Marketplaces to Grow Cross-border Sales

Merchants that are looking to test the global waters can start by selling on ecommerce marketplaces. And that’s what 40.5% of MCM Outlook 2014 respondents said they are doing, whether it’s through Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, Newegg, Alibaba’s Tmall and TaoBao, or others.

Marketplaces can make sense if you are a marketer or manufacturer with a few SKUs to sell. Merchants can also use the marketplaces to test a product line, or even just one product, to see if there’s a chance of expanding their cross-border sales.

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Amazon does allow U.S. merchants to sell their goods globally. However, merchants that want to sell goods in other countries have to use the Fulfillment by Amazon service. FBA will help the merchant with the translation, tax and fulfillment of that product across borders. Also, if you have a growing number of orders from a particular region, FBA will move some of the inventory there to keep the product as close to the consumer as possible.

However, shipments to foreign addresses will not be permitted to be returned, even if requested by the customer. The seller authorizes FBA to, at its discretion, abandon to the carrier any shipment to a foreign address that is refused or damaged, or that is otherwise prevented, or to gift such shipment to the customer on the shipper’s behalf.

eBay’s Global Shipping Program  streamlines international selling by automatically including all shipping and customs charges in the buyer’s purchase price and reducing the retailer’s effort to a simple domestic U.S. shipment at no additional charge.

In addition to the final charges, the buyer sees the amount paid to the seller and the amount paid to the global shipping provider. The seller receives the item price and the domestic shipping and handling amount that you specified directly from your buyer.

According to eBay, it uses experienced international shipping operators to handle the international leg of the shipment. The retailer delivers the package to a domestic U.S. address where GSP takes over. Once the seller has shipped its package to the domestic address, everything else is fully automated.

But before you get started with the marketplaces, merchants must consider what type of products are doing well in specific countries, what consumers in those countries are looking for and what kind of content will help consumers in those countries make their purchase decisions.

Speaking in February at the Global E-Commerce Leaders Forum, PUMA SE head of global ecommerce Tom Davis said the perception though is that selling on a marketplace means you’re selling at a discount. But Davis said PUMA is profitable on Tmall, and notes that high-end brands such as Burberrys, Nike and Apple are certainly not discounting there.

In fact, Davis said PUMA did three times as much business in marketplaces on Singles Day than it did on Cyber Monday.

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