6 tips for cross border e-commerce

By: Sarah Pilasky

How do you as an entrepreneur use the potential of cross-border e-commerce?

The consumer, both private and business, likes to shop digitally. Online shopping has made a considerable growth spurt in recent years. Incidentally, this does not only apply to the Netherlands, but also to Belgium, France, England and Germany, for example. The internet has ensured that the whole world can communicate with each other. This is also reflected in the shopping behavior among consumers. The traditional barriers to shopping abroad are increasingly disappearing thanks to all kinds of technical developments. Think for example of safe payment methods, fast and reliable delivery that can be followed online at all times, etc. We Dutch people like to shop abroad and vice versa, the Netherlands is very popular among foreign shoppers. That provides opportunities!

In this blog we tell you about the potential of cross border e-commerce and we give you 6 practical tips about the order and shipping process.

The Netherlands increasingly buys abroad

Various studies show that Dutch people are increasingly making purchases abroad. During the first 9 months of 2018 alone, over 1.25 billion euros was shopped abroad. In the third quarter of 2018, more than 406 million euros were spent on web shops within the EU. China is number 1 with foreign purchases, followed by Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The fact that more and more Dutch people make their purchases abroad sometimes feels like a threat to Dutch web stores. They lose buyers. You may also feel like this yourself. Nevertheless, there are plenty of opportunities for Dutch web shops. Because from abroad there is increasing interest in web stores from the Netherlands. For you as an entrepreneur this is an excellent opportunity to enter the international market!

The abroad also buys in the Netherlands more often

It is not only Dutch people who go shopping abroad. People from abroad also make a purchase in the Netherlands more often. And this is clearly visible at Transsmart: the number of cross-border shipments booked increased by 46.7% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

This offers prospects for you as an e-commerce organization, because for example 1 in 3 people worldwide are willing to make a purchase abroad if a certain product is cheaper, has better quality and / or the service is better.

For Dutch retailers, there are plenty of opportunities in, among others, Belgium. Studies have shown that our southern neighbors regularly shop online abroad. The lack of supply in their own country, for example, challenges the Dutch web retailers to respond smartly to this and to enter the Belgian market. And the same goes for the Belgian online retailer: for them there are also plenty of opportunities in the Netherlands and other (European) countries.

In addition to opportunities in the Dutch neighboring countries Belgium and Germany, there are also countless opportunities in other European countries and even beyond. Consider, for example, France, the UK and the United States. Research by Thuiswinkel.org and PostNL shows that Dutch people still have a strong preference for web shops from their own country compared to consumers from other countries. The share of cross-border spending is higher in other countries. Sometimes dozens of percentages!

All these options and opportunities can also raise a lot of questions. Because before you start using the opportunities, a few things must be arranged. With the following 6 tips we will try to help you on your way.

6 tips

You want to increase your target group by controlling the international market. What should you consider?

Tip 1 – Make your website available in multiple languages & for all devices

Nowadays, both consumer orders and business orders are usually placed via mobile. But the tablet and desktop are still used for this. So make sure that your web shop is available on all devices and works properly.

In addition, it is of course very important that you make your website / web shop available in the languages of the countries in which you are active.

Both Germans and French like to do business in their own language. If only the English site is available to them, they will quickly drop out. Do you want to expand to the Belgian market? Then it might be smart to add Flemish in addition to the Dutch and French language.

Trust can also be created by modifying the extension of the website: if I visit your web shop from Germany, I go to www.domain.de instead of .nl or .com.

Tip 2 – Offers correct payment and delivery options

In Dutch web shops we often see various payment options: iDEAL, PayPal, postpay, bank transfer, etc. In addition, we often expect that our order can be delivered the next day: at home, at the office or at a collection point. What is the situation in the countries where you want to make your entry? Make sure you investigate the wishes / requirements and expectations for each country where you want to sell so that your buyers do not drop out at the last minute.

Tip 3 – Align commercial campaigns with the country

Every country has its own specific holidays and vacation periods. These may differ from your home country. If you want commercial promotions such as a sale to be successful, make sure that you look into which period is suitable for this.

There are also less obvious issues that you should take into account. For example, what about the different days in the month when wages are transferred? There could be considerable differences!

Tip 4 – Sales via Marketplaces

Emerce said that more than half of the fast-growing internationally oriented companies sell through their own webshop and marketplaces. Why? Marketplaces such as Ebay, Amazon, Bol.com and Alibaba.com can open the door to various countries for you. It is a good way to see if your products are successful in these countries, without having to translate your entire webshop. And since marketplaces are becoming increasingly popular, it is not a bad idea to consider selling through one or more of these channels. You can find various studies, articles and tips about marketplaces online.

Tip 5 – Consider the internal consequences

The ultimate goal of cross border e-commerce is of course to get more orders, more sales. And that's nice, but don't forget that this has consequences for your internal organization ...

Imagine: you decide to also sell your products via Amazon and this is going very well. The number of orders per month increases by 25%. Do you have enough stock? Can your staff handle this order flow: picking, packing, shipping? How do you deal with returns? Is your customer service prepared for questions from various countries in various languages? Can you meet the requirements of the marketplace(s)? Etc.

Tip 6 – Be sure to make agreements with carriers

When you ship to new countries, you must make agreements with your current or new carriers: What are the costs for sending to these countries? How much time does shipping take? Which service level must be booked? Are additional documents (for example, customs forms) required for shipments? Who is responsible for the shipment (incoterms) and when? Etc.

Already working with Transsmart? Make sure that you provide us with all information so that we can process it quickly and the abroad bookings will then be a piece of cake for you and your colleagues!

Want to know more?

Transsmart can always advise you on your logistics processes. Feel free to call or email us with your questions. We are happy to help you!

Contact us