In the digital age, selling your products online has become necessary for companies aiming to be competitive in the global market.
With the growing possibility of access to international markets, artisans and small and medium-sized enterprises can now compete on a global scale, reaching potential customers all over the world. But how should you sell online abroad? Expanding internationally brings unique challenges and spans numerous fields, from understanding local regulations to managing logistics and taxes, from choosing the right platform to adopting effective marketing strategies for different audiences. In this context, it is therefore essential to understand how to move, what steps to take, what strategies and what tools to adopt to be able to resolve the complexities given by the internationalization of the company and take advantage of the opportunities offered by a borderless market.

What to know to sell online abroad

According to the latest European E-commerce Report, 2023 closed with an overall turnover that exceeded 900 billion Euros, confirming a trend which, although less accentuated than in the past, was able to resist the uncertainties of the markets and the ensuing socio-political turbulence. This trend is fueled by a growing demand for products and services offered by companies that operate online and that have been able to exploit the opportunities given by digitalization and increasingly broad global access to the internet: currently over 92% of European citizens have access to the internet and of these, 78% usually purchase goods and services via the web, regardless of their country of origin.But how should you move to beat the competition, be competitive and sell online abroad? Here are some suggestions.

78% of European citizens regularly purchase goods and services via the web

Proposing products suitable for the country where you intend to operate and enabling their delivery with the documents in order is essential for the sustainability of your business.

Analyze the target market

To operate effectively in a foreign country, you need to know it thoroughly, not only in relation to the potential of your product, but also the cultural context, consumer habits and the presence of competitors. Opening an e-commerce business abroad therefore means adequately calibrating the offer, taking market trends into consideration and trying to break down possible existing barriers, first of all that of language: a multilingual online store that is clear on purchasing and payment methods, returns operations and possible further advantages is among the essential aspects to invest in. It is important to strengthen the offer by intercepting potentially favorable occasions and phases of the year for your business with marketing operations. Identifying local partners or networks of professionals who are present and already operate in certain contexts is also a valid strategy for shortening cultural distances, removing obstacles and entering a foreign market more easily.

Understand international legislation and regulations

Selling online abroad presupposes knowledge of the legislation and regulations in force in the countries in which you intend to operate regarding taxes, customs duties, consumer protection and privacy. Ignoring these regulations, which can affect both logistics management and strategies, can lead to heavy fines and legal problems. It is therefore crucial for companies to be informed and, if necessary, consult legal experts specialized in international trade. If the objective is sales in European Union countries, it is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of EU Directive 31/2000, which establishes that electronic contracts must enjoy a legal status equivalent to paper contracts. As regards non-European countries, it is crucial to delve into the specific customs regulations and verify the existence of any trade restrictions relating to your sector of activity. For example, China, where e-commerce already represents over 27% of total retail purchases, has introduced a "Positive List" for Cross-Border E-Commerce (CBEC) which lists the products eligible for direct sales in the country. Proposing products suitable for the country where you intend to operate and enabling their delivery with the documents in order is therefore of vital importance not only to ensure full customer satisfaction, but also for the very sustainability of your business.

Choose the most suitable sales platforms

Although selling online abroad through your own store may appear to be the most profitable strategy, management presents aspects that require commitment and resources. In fact, it is not just a matter of translating texts into the language of the target country, but of completely adapting the purchasing experience to the cultural habits and expectations of local consumers. This includes product customization, currency, units of measurement, preferred payment options, and marketing strategies. A quick, effective solution capable of allowing you to test the market in relation to your product is to rely on the main marketplaces, portals that have a large audience and which allow you to get in touch with potential customers more quickly. According to data provided by Statista, over 47% of digital purchases worldwide occurred through this type of platform managed by large brands. In this regard, it may be advantageous to activate collaborations with players capable of offering sales support in marketplaces and providing digital solutions compatible with the main e-commerce platforms, PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify, Woo Commerce, thus allowing the freeing of precious resources to be allocated to development of your business.

Manage the Logistics

Logistics represents one of the biggest challenges for online sales abroad. It is necessary to ensure that products can be delivered efficiently and at a sustainable cost. If you intend to sell wine abroad,  for example, you will not only have to make sure that you have all the documents in order and that you are able to pay customs duties, but you will have to pay great attention to the packaging aspect. This implies the choice of reliable logistics partners, the management of warehouse stocks and a rapid and punctual completion of all bureaucratic procedures. Implementing multilingual customer service, including live chat, email and telephone support, can improve the shopping experience and build a relationship of trust with international customers should any issues or concerns arise. A partner specialized in logistics services can provide a contribution of considerable importance, as it knows the regulations of foreign countries and provides support adequate to the needs of sellers first, with personalized packaging in line with the needs of the goods to be shipped. It has experience in customer care in the event of delays, problematic shipments or customs obstacles.

MBE eShip Plugin is the ideal tool for those who want to sell online abroad, thanks to the possibility of connection with more than 25 marketplaces, customized features based on your needs and order management via plugin or web platform. Furthermore, the multi-courier solution always guarantees deliveries in line with the characteristics of your products and customer requests, helping to further improve the purchasing experience. With the use of automated processes, the experience of qualified personnel and the presence of a vast network of Centers spread throughout the world, Mail Boxes Etc. is the point of reference for companies that aspire to operate and expand their business in the international market.

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Selling online abroad allows companies to compete on a global scale, expanding the potential market and reaching customers all over the world.
Challenges include understanding local regulations, managing logistics and taxes, choosing the right platform, and adopting effective marketing strategies for different audiences.
Choosing the right platform allows you to adapt the purchasing experience to the cultural habits and expectations of local consumers, optimizing sales.
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Mail Boxes Etc./MBE Centers are operated by independent operators as franchisees, who operate under a franchise agreement under the brand name of MBE. Through its franchise network Mail Boxes Etc. provides support services for businesses and individuals. Logistics and shipping services represent the main services of MBE – enabled by MBE through contractual agreements concluded for the benefit of its franchisees with the main domestic and international express couriers - and other graphics and printing services - provided either directly or on the basis of agreements with large printing centers. The promotion of services for business and private customers is carried out in the framework of the business activity of each MBE franchise partner within and outside of the MBE Centers ("farming"). Each franchise partner is contractually obligated to perform such activities. Mail Boxes Etc. and MBE are registered trademarks used with permission of MBE Worldwide S.p.A. (All Rights Reserved). The services offered by the individual MBE Centers can vary depending upon the location. The material available on this Internet site, the information contained herein and any other relevant related data may not in any manner be copied, distributed, changed, republished, reproduced, downloaded or forwarded to third parties, without the expressed prior written authorization of Sistema Italia 93 S.r.l. We accept no responsibility with regard to the unauthorized use of the material available on this Internet site, the information and/or the data contained herein.
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