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The Success Of Cross Border E-commerce Is Not Just A Click Away

SMEs now stand a chance to participate in global trade owing to the rise of e-commerce

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Stimulated by the digital era, the cross-border e-commerce ecosystem has grown rapidly and has, in turn, created success stories for several retailers. With a growth rate of approximately 25 percent per annum, its momentum is double the rate of domestic e-commerce. Therefore, it yields an unrivaled opportunity for small and medium enterprises (SME) to expand their business beyond the countries in which they operate. 

Sometimes, with a lack of resources to physically expand their presence across geographies, SMEs now stand a chance to participate in global trade owing to the rise of this virtual platform. However, while the opportunities are immense, they must also be mindful that cross border e-commerce is not a joyride to success and requires significant groundwork in order to reap rewards. 

Selling products online might seem like a piece of cake for established retailers and manufacturers due to their team of experts across the board, however, the smaller ones must put in a concerted effort to build their brand online, stand out amongst the clutter of international sellers, and build a global customer base. While customers are more accepting of sellers from other countries, they are also becoming more sophisticated in identifying the ones that suit their requirements, and certainly, do not choose by chance. There are several aspects apart from the actual product that plays a crucial role in making this decision, such as, the pricing, trust and overall experience throughout the buying journey. In fact, when it comes to customer concerns with buying online, The 21st century Spice Trade Report states that 24 percent of consumers have concerns related to returns, and 18 percent have concerns related to the time required for delivery. In view of this, SMEs must pay attention to some of the factors listed below in order to thrive in international markets. 

Finding the most attractive consumer market

SMEs must make a conscious effort to identify and target the right international markets. While this process involves effort, time and capital, it is imperative to succeed. It is also essential to review the demand, supply and consumer tastes in those markets. This further helps in strengthening the sales pitch. 

Understanding the needs of the customer

It is important to tailor the experience according to the audience’s taste in the target market, in order to build customer loyalty and confidence. Since buyers today are more informed and spoilt for choice, we can only expect an upward trajectory in their demands for value additions that build elements of personalization and convenience to their entire experience.  

Keep a stock of inventory and a structured warehousing framework

Keeping stock of the inventory is also of prime importance. When products reflecting on the virtual market place are out of stock, it translates into delayed deliveries and disgruntled customers. 

Trusted logistics partner

Partnering with an established logistics player is essential to win buyer confidence and ensure a seamless shipping experience. With the massive reach offered by leading logistics players, sellers can make wise choices to sell in a non-mainstream market, where their products might actually find a greater demand, as opposed to mainstream markets such as the US that are highly saturated. For local entrepreneurs who are embarking on their pursuit for international markets, the export policies and regulations might resemble a maze. Failure to comply with them can result in shipments getting stuck midway, fines, or even worse – getting barred from exporting. Customs clearances and regulatory procedures might be overwhelming, and therefore must be placed in the hands of a trusted logistics partners who can help navigate the trade waters that differ from region to region. 

With several parameters to keep in check, an entrepreneur planning to set shop online might actually experience a case of cold feet. However, it is important for them to realize that they cannot multi-task and pull off all these efforts on their own. In the long term, it is wiser for them to onboard partners who have the know-how of how the global e-commerce market functions and the expertise to guide them through the entire journey.  

There’s no risk in simply opening your doors to the international market, but I do think there’s a risk in getting left behind. It’s important to know what your competitors are doing, and whether they already offer international shipping. Strong evidence shows that international customers spend significantly more than local shoppers, so even if the international traffic to your website is small, it can be worth a lot for limited effort. Don’t just go for the obvious big cross-border markets either – with the express, your business has the potential to be a truly global brand!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
e commerce smes consumer market

R.S. Subramanian

The author is Country Manager, DHL Express India.

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