International commerce is predicted to triple by 2018 across the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, China, and Australia, reaching $307 billion. The number of shoppers will increase to 130 million, with 72 million of them using mobile devices to make overseas purchases. Buying foreign goods over the Internet is completely convenient nowadays that you no longer need to take a vacation just to purchase items that are only sold abroad.

Owners of small businesses who would like to join in this huge global market can do several things now to start growing their sales across borders. Tools and technology that securely and seamlessly enable cross-border e-commerce have helped thousands of businesses — successfully adapting to selling internationally. Below are five tips you may want to consider if you also want your small business to succeed in the global market.

Tip #1: Get Personal with Shoppers

The Internet is limitless, and it’s not that complicated to reach international shoppers. Make your commercial website more appealing to these buyers by highlighting your ability to accept international orders, and make sure that your website has a toggle for multi-national language. Another is to remember that pictures speak volumes without requiring language translation; use beautiful images to your advantage. Finally, list your items in local currency and offer clear information on shipping, costs, and countries served.

Tip #2: Understand and Adapt to Local Market Preferences

There are various ways on how you can attract international buyers. While local search tools and direct mail and possible marketing options, you will only have limited success if you don’t speak to unique needs of consumers in that market. To accomplish this, start learning about the culture, business practices, common marketplaces, and other consumer preferences of each country by using PayPal’s free small business tool, PassPort (shameless plug).

Keep in mind that language can be a barrier for international customer service. Many customers ordering from your site will understand English, but you should be aware which markets will likely require an in-language customer service experience.

Tip #3: Provide an Easy-to-Use and Secure Method for Online Payments

Fear of identity theft and fraud is the main concern pointed out by 7 out of 10 shoppers as the main reason for not making a cross-border purchase, while 9 out of 10 want “buyer protection” for overseas purchases.

Offer your customers a checkout option from a trusted, secure, and recognized payment processor, and also offer a digital wallet that doesn’t require consumers to share their sensitive financial information with you directly. Doing this will enable businesses of all sizes to increase consumer trust, reduce cart abandonment, and drive sales.

Tip #4: Say Yes to Free Shipping

Shipping costs are one of the most important drivers of a consumer’s decision to push through an international purchase. According to an internal PayPal research, more than half of those who have shopped internationally in the past 12 months report that delivery costs prevent them from making purchases from another country. Similarly, just less than half of all online shoppers say that free shipping would make them “more likely to buy” from another country, and the other half say that free return shipping or postage for returns is a “must have.”

Evaluate a few different global shipping service options, including larger shipping companies that offer all-in-one solutions. These may include handling, customs, and excise documentation, and shipping calculators. Finally, make sure that your return and return-shipping policies are clear for international transactions.

Tip #5: Research Local Finance Regulations

Different countries’ government policies will vary on the taxes, duties, customs regulations, and rules you must follow in order to sell in their markets. You must also price products to reflect local market averages, inflation rates, expectations, and currency conversions. Resources like the U.S. Department of Commerce can help you understand the breadth of requirements you must meet, but there are a few specific areas worthy of a deeper familiarity. For example, you can obtain information om key customs forms at For more information about customs regulations around the world, visit the World Customs Organization.

It is indeed possible for any small business to sell internationally, at any scale, and there are many resources out there to help you get started. Keep these things in hand, and who knows, you might be selling globally in no time.


This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 6:40:01 AM and is filed under Small-Medium Business.

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