The Case for Cross Border Ecommerce

Why Deprive Overseas Customers of Your Great Offering?

Cross Border Ecommerce
Cross Border Ecommerce. JamieB / RooM / Getty Images

Especially when an ecommerce business starts small, it is natural to focus on customers that are like the people on the founding team. So, if your motivation to get into ecommerce was to help moms like you find reliable, yet affordable, back to school products, then you are probably defining your customers in your own image. Individual founders, sometimes referred to as "solopreneurs," are often limited by such thinking.

But there is a whole world out there that wants to buy your products. Why deprive them of the opportunity?

Disappearing National Boundaries Are Fueling Ecommerce

One of the greatest advantages of virtual business, i.e., business that takes place online, is that it is geographically agnostic. As a result, you are not restricted by the location of your physical storefront. Instead, you can sell to anyone who can pay you, as long as you can ship them the goods. In my experience, even ecommerce businesses that had not considered selling internationally notice a trickle of orders coming in from abroad. Just imagine the size of the opportunity of targeting specific international markets.

No Matter Where You Are, Most of Your Prospective Customers Are Abroad

If you are a US based ecommerce business, does it not interest you to know that more than 95% of your consumers are located outside the USA? Though the per capita purchasing power of the US consumer is pretty large, the sheer number of people outside the USA leads to approximately two-thirds of the globe's consumer spending being non-US based.

If you are an astute ecommerce professional, you understand the potential these numbers signify.

Break the Shackles of Time

Your website is always open, but most of your domestic customers buy at specific points of time. As a result, your website visitor's logs show only one or two traffic spikes every day.

International sales would even that out.

Do not think this is a big deal? Well, extrapolate that seasonality logic over the complete calendar year. If you are primarily a US based B2C ecommerce business, you know that your sales are concentrated around the holiday season. But you are unable to augment capacities adequately to take care of the holiday rush, as you won't know what to do with that capacity once the holidays are over. By diversifying your customer base across nations and cultures, you will be able to smooth your sales graph. This will lead to a significant optimization in resource allocation and utilization.

Your Competitors Are Doing It

I do not advocate the "monkey see monkey do" mode of learning the ropes of ecommerce business, but ecommerce is a highly competitive industry. Going international may no longer be about excellence. Given that all your competitors are expanding abroad, and your international competitors are growing sales in your geography, you really have no choice but to scale up your thought process and think global.

Today it Is Not All That Difficult to Sell Abroad

There are several dependable logistics providers who will deliver your physical goods to almost any part of the world.

In fact, the postal system in much of the world is developed enough to deliver the goods. In light of this, the only friction you will face in cross-border ecommerce would be in the form of an increased amount of paperwork for each sale. This paperwork would be required for customs duties and other cross-border compliances. But this is not really a deal-breaker anymore; so much so that your logistics provider might be willing to take over part of the headache of paperwork and compliance.

Final Words

Over two decades ago, as an MBA student at the University of Texas at Austin, I first heard the slogan, "Think global, act local." After all this time, surely I no longer need to repeat that slogan. The invisible hand of economics will favor the ecommerce business that develops a global customer base.