All too often US-based e-tailers fall victim to analysis paralysis. While building a long-term strategy for global ecommece is no small feat, getting started is about incremental growth. As Carl Miller, Founder of The GRINlabs likes to say to cross-border sellers, “Think like a start-up. Build incrementally.” And what we have found is that, now more than ever, there are tools and service providers that can help you optimize incrementally.

In our latest three-part video series Josh Halpern, Director of the eCommerce Innovation Lab at the U.S. Department of Commerce visits with Clint Reid, Founder and CEO of iGlobal Stores, to discuss why this incremental mindset can start you on the path to unlock revenue growth through expansion into new markets.

Clint is a former UPS guy and we woudl say he is an expert in the space of cross-border eCommerce. Here we asked him to outline the main points of concern e-tailers must consider to get started selling to the foreign customers already visiting their websites every day. Here’s what he had to say:

Don’t over-think things

It is understandable why e-tailers suffer from an “international is too complex” mindset. International lawyers and experts in exports – the kind of people e-tailers often look to for advice – immediately start talking in jargon the average human can’t understand, making scary gestures with their hands about all the pitfalls and dangers in working with countries and customs.

These people are used to working with multinational corporations that move entire shiploads of one item, or raw material, from one country to another. They know what they know about a very specific aspect of global commerce, but when it comes to sending a fidget spinner to a teen using his mom’s credit card in a nearby country, the export expert and the lawyer’s knowledge and experience aren’t very helpful.

Global ecommerce is still at its infancy and having someone with 20 years experience is not much better than someone with three years experience, because the rules, and the services to address them, are changing every month.

The key to a successful rollout and expansion of cross-border sales is to not over-think it to the point of paralysis.

So what DO e-tailers need to know?

In the first video, Clint talks about the importance of setting foreign buyers’ expectations at the time of checkout. Currencies, duties and taxes, item restrictions, shipping service levels, guaranteed landed cost, all play a part in creating a comfortable experience for the customer, which in turn increases conversion.

He explains why it’s important to not over-think things like harmonizing your catalogue with tariff codes for every product. He also talks about the importance of calculating carrier fees that fall outside of shipping costs, and mentions popular payment options that will help optimize user experiences.

Sorting out payment options

In the second video, “Getting Paid Online,” Josh and Clint talk about the myriad carriers and gateways available, and the importance of working with a flexible tool that allows you to use service providers of your choice.

They also cover the all important definition of DDP (delivery duties paid) – also sometimes called Free Domicile. This is where the e-tailer collects duties and taxes at the time of checkout and then, on the shipping label, marks “Bill duties, taxes, and fees to sender.” The carrier then fronts the money for customs clearance, delivers the package, and later sends a bill back to the merchant.

Optimizing for cross-border conversions

In the final video Josh and Clint discuss the importance of optimizing the cross-border user experience to increase conversion. Clint talks about iGlobal Stores and how they help simplify the paperwork process for sending packages to international customers. Watch below!


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This video and audio interview series and all content provided on this site are intended to provide a resource to U.S. exporters. Our content is continuing to grow, expand and adjust based on the changing and evolving market dynamics. It is not comprehensive. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service or the International Trade Administration. The Commercial Service and its collaborators have performed limited due diligence research; but we strongly recommend that you perform your own due diligence investigation and background research on any company or service we profile in this series. We assume no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the information and concepts described throughout our content.

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