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At the end of the day, your customers don’t really care about your products, they care about the experience you could potentially offer them.
At the end of the day, your customers don’t really care about your products, they care about the experience you could potentially offer them.

Cross-border e-commerce: Barriers and solutions


By Jessi Wesson, Editor - Fastmoving - Apr 10th 2018, 10:29

It’s about the lifestyle you are selling, not your product.  

“At the end of the day, your customers don’t really care about your products, they care about the experience you could potentially offer them. This is what changes the dynamics of how you can get your customers to make more purchases”, says Chris Folayan, Founder and CEO for in his keynote at the eCommerce MoneyAfrica Confex held recently.

Cross-border online retail is predicted to grow at twice the rate of domestic e-commerce until 2020. According to a 2017 DHL report, cross-border retail volumes are predicted to increase at an annual average rate of 25% between 2015 and 2020 – twice the rate of domestic e-commerce growth.

With this marked growth curve and opportunity, there are inevitably significant barriers involved when considering trading across borders. Statistics show international shoppers buying from online retailers in another country, look for reassurance that promises will be kept and the majority of these consumers look for the available delivery options before reaching the checkout.

Top 5 barriers restricting successful cross-border e-commerce growth:

Local Payments & Foreign Exchange
Find a local bureau de change company or a multi-country payment platform such as PayPal, Transfer-To or WorldRemit.

“We have found these three companies are great to work with and they make life easier.” says Folayan.

Support / Communication channels
• Online Chat
• Email Support local languages
• Local Phone Support or use a UK phone number (Skype and WhatsApp)

Folayan highly recommends utilising Skype or Whatsapp as they are both inexpensive and provide the necessary customer service. “Online chat is extremely important in this regard and these two resources have been immensely helpful in our expansion to date."

Shipping, Delivery Costs & Speed
• Find a global shipping company with tracking and great customer service e.g. DHL
• In each country try to find a local last mile and customs clearing partner.
• Always negotiate your rates you have more negotiating power than you realise.

“We have integrated with various shipping companies and have found DHL to be the best company to work with when it comes to expanding and growing our business globally. I highly recommend partnering with DHL,” says Folayan.

Market Awareness Is Key
• Partner with someone in each country you want to expand into.
• Understand the 3 stages of a sale model and build on each block.
• Find a local marketing agency
• Utilise Google Analytics to determine and understand your customer base.
• Social media is your best friend
• Create a complimentary product your customers can always utilise.

“We have tried to expand into the Middle-East utilising the same cookie-cutter approach we used in Africa which we found to be a big mistake. Don’t make this same mistake”, says Folayan. “Find potential customers globally and find a marketing agency locally."

Local Competition
• Find out who your competitors are locally by asking your potential customers
• Experience your competitor's solutions and keep notes of how they do things.
• Learn from them and improve on it.
• Make yours way simpler, cheaper and better
• Figure a way to build a local following

"Everyone has a competitor. The key is to understand who your competitor is, what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. The best way to gain these necessary insights is to talk to your competitors and be their customer."

The three stages of a sale include:

The customer needs to know who you are before they make any purchases from you.
The customer will never give you their credit card number or pay for anything unless they trust you.
"You have to first market yourself to your customer. Get them to know who you are and figure out a way to get them to trust you. MallforAfrica has found partnering with banks and religious organisations have been a great way to gain customer trust," says Folayan.
The sale is made.

Folayan reiterated the number one lesson to accelerate business growth is to find partners you can trust in each country you expand to.

“Mistakes are the backbone of successful businesses. Embracing one’s failures leads to great success."


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