Selling Cross-Border from Europe: Key Considerations and Pitfalls to Avoid
We are all well aware that Brexit has brought about several changes into the UK market, especially in the retail sector. Finding the right ways and methods to sell successfully in the UK has become extremely challenging for European brands and retailers, due to changes in a whole host of laws and regulations. In addition, aside from the UK, each country has their own rules and customs that must be followed when it comes to selling cross-border, resulting in a large variety of implications that must be considered before engaging new markets. This article will explore some of the key considerations that Europeans should take into account when planning their cross-border strategy and what the main pitfalls are to avoid.
One of the first hurdles to overcome when you are looking to expand your business into cross-border territory is establishing contracts with marketplaces. You can expect each country to have their own laws and regulations which can be challenging to navigate when creating a store to sell your products on. In the UK, for example, the consequences of Brexit have had implications across tariffs, trade barriers and currency fluctuations. Even brands that already had agreements in place have had to review their key cross-border contracts as they found that certain terms would no longer apply at the end of the transition period. Often, this resulted in a significant increase in costs.
Once you have your contracts in place with the marketplaces that you want to work with, you will need to integrate your real-time inventory catalogue with the marketplaces’ seller APIs. Given that each marketplace will have its own technical infrastructure, you will need to create multiple different integrations in order to sell cross-border to the markets that you want to. This can pose challenges for your business in terms of making sure your catalogue integrates well but is also consistent across different marketplace infrastructures in various territories.
Another consideration that you will have to take into account when it comes to selling cross-border is providing localised content and customer service. It is absolutely crucial that you correctly and accurately translate your product listings into the local language of the country that you will be selling in – including both the names of the products as well as the product descriptions. Furthermore, what do local customers actually want in a product listing? Do they like detailed descriptions, prefer photos or mostly utilise user reviews to make their purchasing decisions?
In addition, you will of course want to ensure ahead of time that you have done the correct level of market research to establish whether or not there is even demand for your products in the particular territory that you will be selling in. Similarly, you will want to provide a strong level of customer service post-sale, which will involve your customer service team being able to provide a high level of support in the buyers’ local language.
To continue, in order to sell cross-border you will need to ship cross-border, which will require going through different processes than domestic shipping. For example, you have to take into account other factors such as tariffs and documentation. To complicate matters further, if buyers are unsatisfied with their purchase then you will need to handle the returns process too. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that you have a strong logistics strategy in place, and depending on which transport methods you use, this will also have implications in terms of your costs, delivery options you can offer as well as your environmental impact.
Managing local taxes and other legal compliances is an additional component that is best not overlooked. With each country having its own tax regulations and legal requirements when it comes to selling, it’s crucial to comprehend the laws in each country as you may find yourself in legal trouble otherwise, should you perhaps misinterpret the local guidelines.
Another pitfall that is often overlooked is that of payments. When selling cross-border (especially outside of Europe) each country will have its own currency. One mistake that you do not want to fall into is leaving the currency conversion up to the customer. It can be very frustrating from a consumer point of view to see products listed in a currency that they don’t use, forcing them to search for an exchange rate themselves. This makes it more difficult to provide a seamless shopping experience.
The other element to consider aside from having accurate local pricing is which payment methods the customers prefer to use. It is very easy to assume that everyone is fine paying with one of the major credit cards, but that isn’t always the case. If you want to tap into cross-border markets, you will need to offer payment methods that are popular with those markets, otherwise you risk losing business. For example, many customers in China like to use WeChat to pay.
If organising all of this sounds like an almost impossible task and a lot of hassle, that’s because it is. When it comes to cross-border trade, there are so many barriers to overcome and factors to take into account that it becomes a lot of work. That’s where Arcade Retail comes in. In a nutshell, Arcade Retail acts as a merchant of record in order to facilitate your brand’s cross-border trade strategy in the UK and beyond, enabling you to sell successfully across both global and local marketplace channels.
We can offer your business unmatched speed-to-market using our existing, established partnerships with global marketplaces to provide you with expert insight to dominate your category. In addition, our technology integrates directly with online marketplaces, and all product descriptions are relevant and localised in the appropriate language and design.
Furthermore, you never have to worry about engagement as our customer service network allows us to respond to queries in the local language and time zone, taking the stress out of translation.
Our solution also helps you build your cross-border strategy by using our expertise and knowledge of local markets to design appropriate, localised product listings for your business. In addition, our marketing reflects local traditions and events so that you can be sure your products are being offered to the market during peak seasons and shopping events throughout the year.
Finally, we offer local fulfillment and local returns of your products, so we can do the majority of the heavy lifting for you in terms of logistics. We will also take care of compliance for you, using our existing partnerships and knowledge to ensure that you avoid any unnecessary problems with taxes, tariffs or documentation.
Ready to accelerate your cross-border trade? Get in touch with us today.