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Cross-border selling and common mistakes

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Last editedMar 20222 min read

Cross-border selling means doing business with customers or other businesses beyond your own national borders. There are many businesses that operate purely in the country of their residence, but those that buy or ship goods internationally obviously have a much broader market.

Selling internationally opens up a whole world of opportunity. Let’s look at the cross-border selling definition and the common mistakes to avoid when selling internationally.

Cross-border selling definition

Cross-border ecommerce involves selling goods from the website of a national retailer based in one country to another party based in a different country. Cross-border selling can happen in three main ways, including:

  • between a retailer or brand and a consumer (B2C)

  • between two businesses (B2B)

  • between two private parties (C2C)

Whether it is B2C, B2B or C2C, the exact details of how it works vary from business to business. For example, one website might sell goods that are stored and shipped out from the same country their website is based in. Another business might keep stocks of certain products in a different country to where their website is based.

Common mistakes of cross-border selling

Selling internationally is a huge opportunity to grow a business far beyond what is possible within the borders of its country of origin. However, there is a lot to consider to conduct cross-border selling successfully.

Here are the most common mistakes when selling internationally.

Not localising content

The shopping experience needs to adhere to the various cultures and languages around the world, particularly in your target markets. You need international customers to understand your content, so a multilingual website is crucial. Also make sure all images, symbols and other media on your website are culturally appropriate.

Inconvenient checkout

A big mistake often made when selling abroad is offering the exact checkout options internationally as you do domestically. Not adding the ability to purchase something in the customer’s own currency will produce a much higher cart abandonment rate. Consumers’ payment preferences also vary among different geographic regions, so provide as wide a range of payment options as possible.

Not understanding cross-border taxes

Taxes are complex enough without adding in all the international variants and variables. But you must understand all the import and excise duties as well as any other hidden levies that your customers may be subject to upon making a purchase. Consult a tax professional and aim to provide full tax transparency to your international customers.

Poorly planned logistics

The logistics of delivering goods to your customers is an often overlooked element that can seriously stumble a company new to selling internationally. The logistics must be planned meticulously to ensure your customers do not experience excessive delays.

We can help

Merchants also need a way to process international payments, but this can be complicated and expensive.

Traditional methods face the following barriers:

  • they often require a foreign currency bank account

  • bank currency exchange rates are notoriously high

  • bank transfer fees across borders are very high

This all makes it expensive and logistically complicated, although there are international payment solutions that can break down these barriers and provide a better alternative.

One of the best alternatives for collecting international payments from customers is available through GoCardless. Businesses can receive international payments from 30+ countries at the real exchange rate by offering the local bank debit option in each of the supported countries. This allows customers to pay in their currency and for the merchant to receive it in their own currency, without the need for foreign bank accounts.

GoCardless offers competitive pricing for international payment processing at 2% + 20p per transaction, taken in your customers’ currencies. GoCardless also uses Wise to provide the real exchange rate so that customers get the best rate on currency conversion.

Payments are also received relatively quickly for international payments.

If you’re interested in finding out more about selling internationally, or any other aspect of your business finances, then get in touch with our financial experts at GoCardless. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 70,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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