Ecommerce: 3 Options for Selling Internationally

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The ecommerce boom that took hold as a result of the COVID pandemic may be slowing somewhat, but the chances of online sales slipping below pre-pandemic levels are pretty slim. One market report after another project that ecommerce will only continue to grow in the years to come. For U.S.-based retailers, this means taking the necessary steps to sell internationally.


Ecommerce operators tend to shy away from selling internationally because there is a lot about it that they don’t know. Many believe it is too complicated to learn, thereby not making it worth their while. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Export compliance and international shipping can be quite complex for major corporations and companies that deal in restricted products, but for the average ecommerce retailer, the challenges of selling internationally are limited.


One of the first things an ecommerce operator has to decide is how they want to sell internationally. There are basically three options:

1. Build Separate Ecommerce Sites


The first option is to build a separate ecommerce site for every country the operator wants to ship to. Each of the sites utilizes a domain familiar to the customers within that particular country. Prices are all represented in local currency as are shipping rates, taxes, etc.


Building separate sites are the most involved of the three options. However, it allows the operator to remain independent of other sales platforms. In turn, this means not spending money on services provided by external platforms. An operator should generate more profit with this method, all other things being equal.

2. Sell on U.S.-Based Platforms


Nearly all the big-name ecommerce platforms in the U.S. allow sellers to ship internationally. From Amazon to eBay and Etsy, you can start selling internationally without the headache of setting up separate sites, converting prices, and so on. In fact, you need to do nothing but go into your account settings and enable international shipping.


These platforms all offer multiple international ecommerce shipping options. One of the most frequently used is DHL International Shipping. Even though DHL is a German company, it has operations all around the world. It works through a network of authorized resellers, like Texas-based Preferred Shipping, to offer services like International Export Express.


Some platforms, like eBay for example, allow sellers to ship international orders to a U.S. address. From there, the packages are forwarded to their overseas destinations by way of a third-party shipping provider. Taking advantage of this sort of thing simplifies shipping for ecommerce operators.

3. Sell on International Platforms


The third way to begin selling internationally is to list products on international platforms. Though there are not a ton of such platforms available, they are out there – and they do very well. The most well-known among them is Alibaba. This particular platform is to international ecommerce what Amazon is to the U.S.


An international platform offers operators a similar experience to what they would get on a domestic platform. That said, ecommerce retailers are competing with tons of others for the same market share. But right now, there is plenty of room. The international ecommerce pool is far from crowded.


If you operate an ecommerce platform and are looking to grow your business dramatically, you should probably consider selling internationally. Choose one or two markets and start from there. Once you are comfortable with them, add a few more. Whether you build separate sites, sell on domestic platforms, or list your products on international sites, the growth potential is there. All you need to do is tap into it.

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