5 Tips for Growing Global Ecommerce

As merchants look to global demand to grow their businesses, cross-border transactions represent a significant market opportunity. But delivering on the promise of a satisfying customer experience can be daunting.

Cross-border ecommerce was a hot topic last month at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst conference. Here are five tips from the Catalyst conference that can help you build your cross-border business.

Hit the Marketplaces

During his opening keynote, ChannelAdvisor founder and CEO Scot Wingo noted how aggressive the marketplaces are with cross-border trade. For example, eBay has its global shipping program, and 26% of eBay listings are available to ship worldwide. Wingo said Amazon sells about 2 billion items worldwide on its marketplace. And while sellers may see Alibaba as the marketplace for selling merchandise to the Chinese consumer, its Aliexpress marketplace is top ecommerce shopping site in both Russia and Brazil.

To go global, you have to go local

Wendy Jones, Vice President, Geographic Expansion and Cross Border Trade, eBay

To be successful in cross-border, retailers and merchants must also be relevant in their target countries. Jones said global ecommerce is not a one-size-fits-all game. Consumers want to shop in their own language, pay in ways that are familiar to them, count on a reliable and trackable shipping solution, and know that they will get exactly what they ordered.

No two countries are alike

When selling to customers in multiple countries, you must remember that consumers in no two countries are alike. Nir Hollander, president of jewelry seller Gem Stone King, said that in France, customers are fond of white gold. And in China, customers prefer the quality of the diamond over the overall size. So they tailor their product demand on a country-by-country basis.

Be quick with customer service

When a customer is buying from a retailer in a foreign country, trust is going to be an issue. If you wait two days to return a customer’s email or phone call, the customer is going to wonder if you are a legitimate merchant, and your lack of credibility is going to escalate, said Dave Madoch, toy seller Toynk.com’s director of ecommerce said. Cross-border customers prefer live chat, which is great for the merchant, too, because the merchant can run it through translation software.

Embrace Singles Day

Alibaba created Singles Day (November 11) as a selling holiday in China. Sherri Wu, Head of International Business Development Americas, said Singles Day 2014 sales topped $9.3 billion, a 60% jump over the prior year thanks to Alibaba‚Äôs efforts to globalize Singles Day. That’s more in sales in one calendar day than sales in the U.S. for the entire Cyber Weekend 2014. Costco, which began selling on Alibab’s Tmall in November, did $3.5 million in sales on Singles Day.