Approaching Cross Border eCommerce

This is a chapter our of the eBook available on our resources section or by downloading the eBook here.

In this post we discuss an approach, one developed by Mark Ellis after helping many retailers, large and small, expand their online retail business overseas.

With the limited information available and the multitude of things you “could” do, you probably already have in mind that cross border eCommerce is somewhat overwhelming. There are a lot of factors to consider, a lot of countries to look at, a lot of ways in which you could approach them.  

So where do you start? 

How do you align what you’ve already done or are already doing with the right approach for you as an organization?

In this section we help you answer the “how” using our Optimal International Expansion Process, developed over years of working with retailers, solution providers, and marketplaces. The framework acts as a reference guide through the process of growing your digital business internationally.

Development of the Framework

I thought it would be useful to give some history to how and why I developed this framework to give some insight into how to use it.  The Optimal International Expansion

The framework has been developed over the course of 14 years while working in the international eCommerce sector.  I’ve worked directly with retailers, with marketplaces, payment providers, and cross border trade technology companies. I’ve helped and watched literally thousands of retailers start or grow their cross border journey.

The largest retailers I worked within the early days, which were primarily within fashion and cosmetics categories, concentrated on localizing their eCommerce websites. They initially spent a lot of time on the operations of shipping abroad, from the legalities to the packaging. Many made large investments to build these solutions.  

What was missing was a clear global expansion strategy based on tests and data. 

The process seemed a lot more around believing there would be an increase in sales so delivering what were complex solutions rather than a structured, planned approach of testing, analyzing, expanding, and optimizing.

Over the last ten years as more retailers have started to invest in the cross border I’ve seen the same mistakes repeated over and over. While working with marketplaces, cross border solution providers and with large numbers of sellers I formulated the Optimal International Expansion Process to help make this process more successful. 

The Optimal International Expansion Process is based on the common mistakes, the common successes, the available technologies, and the data that is becoming available.

It’s designed to reduce unnecessary efforts and increase return on investment when selling abroad. With this process I hope many more retailers make this journey successful.

How does the Framework Work? 

The Optimal International Expansion Framework for eCommerce can be used as a step by step guide to the most effective cross border strategy, using data to decide the next stage. 

The theory behind it and the structure of the process is based on an iterative approach. This enables learning and appropriate timings for the next steps. It also enables retailers, brands, and marketplaces to adapt to their own current position, build backward where needed, and build forward where appropriate.  

It aims to answer questions like: How do you know your approach to international expansion will be successful? Indeed, how do you even measure the process to learn what was good and what was bad? 

If you invest in translation for another language and spend all that time, money, and effort optimizing for, say, France, how do you know you won’t waste your money?  You can’t be 100% sure, but there are ways to get quite sure, maybe even 95% sure! It’s all to do with using the right approach.  

This is what the Optimal International Expansion Framework aims to provide. A guide for setting your retail business up for success internationally through strong foundations and using data to decide how, when, and where to grow.

The process  is made up of 5 main parts:

  • Setting the foundations
  • Accepting Customers
  • Generic Optimization
  • Research and Analysis
  • Full Localization

A discussion of how to set your foundation for successful cross border ecommerce is in our eBook. Helping you in understanding, improving and succeeding in this process is the purpose of

About Mark Ellis

Here on CBT Pulse Mark shares his knowledge and recommendations for International eCommerce and will shortly be releasing a manual for retailers on the subject. He is a specialist in helping grow retailer's sales overseas and has been leading international selling programs for marketplaces, SaaS companies and directly for retailers over 15 years. He started his career as a freelance software developer building eCommerce shops and marketing websites and has been involved in product development/delivery throughout his career.

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