Reaching international customers is an incredibly gratifying milestone for retailers. However, it comes with a whole new set of rules that can become daunting and hold your company back.
There are two main reasons retailers avoid international or cross-border strategies:
- You don’t know where to start: There are a ton of selling tools to choose from. One simple Google search could yield over 20 options for a single pain point. Brands are looking for not just a package of online tools, but a partner they can trust to help guide them along the way.
- There’s a lot to keep in mind, and its overwhelming: Shipping costs and timing, regulations, customs and duties, fraud from foreign shippers, converting currencies and language and handling international payments are all crucial aspects of selling well across borders.
In this chapter, we’ll outline how to address international payments, in particular with PayPal, one of the most trusted checkouts in the world.
Entering an International Market
It’s easy to create a virtual online presence, either on your own website or through an online marketplace – test a few target markets, then offer a subset of your product range to international buyers.
But to make your international expansion a success, you need a plan. This guide outlines 5 critical elements that can prepare you to take your first steps across international borders:
- Gathering market intelligence.
- Making it easy for customers in target markets to pay.
- Researching taxes, duties, customs and regulations.
- Developing clear delivery and return policies.
- Looking towards future growth.
Let’s knock one of these out right now: international payment options.
Give customers the ability to pay in their own currency
It’s essential to understand how customers in your target markets prefer to pay for goods and services online.
One of the main reasons that cross-border shoppers tend to abandon purchases at checkout is that they don’t have the comfort and convenience of paying in their currency of choice using a preferred payment method.
As you research payment providers, make sure they offer one or more payment methods – for example, debit cards or PayPal – that appeal to customers in your target markets.
PayPal security helps build trust – and can lead to sales
Another reason cross-border shoppers may abandon their baskets is fear that their personal information won’t be handled securely.
Using PayPal for payment processing can help you earn the confidence of international customers: 81% of cross-border online shoppers are more willing to make a purchase from an overseas merchant because their eligible purchases can be covered by PayPal’s Buyer Protection policy.
Also, PayPal’s Seller Protection programme can extend to cross-border transactions and helps protect you from “unauthorised transaction” and “item not received” buyer complaints.
PayPal gives your business access to local funding methods around the globe, without the hassle of opening multiple merchant accounts overseas. With a single PayPal account, you can:
- Receive payments from more than 169 million active accounts worldwide.
- Sell to customers in 203 markets using 26 currencies.
- Confidently sell in new markets, knowing that a dedicated team at PayPal is helping to identify and mitigate fraud and keep transactions secure.
While people prefer to pay using their local currency, an internationally recognised currency such as U.S. dollars or the euro may also be an option.
Some payment providers will allow you to list prices in a number of different currencies – use this option if it’s available. If you’re not offering payment in local currency, provide a currency conversion tool so customers can see exactly how much they’re paying.
What Makes for a Reliable Global Payment Partner
In fact, whether or not you use PayPal, you should be looking for a few key things in an international payment provider.
Let’s take a look at why each is important.
Connections in New Markets & Geographies
No business succeeds in a vacuum. You need business partners, advisors, mentors, employees, and of course, customers. As you look to expand globally, be sure to seek out partners in all areas that have extensive international connection with tools, resources, people, and more.
Payment tools like PayPal, for instance, have a global network of more than 237 million active accounts and 19 million merchants. Here are some of the top countries in which consumers typically have PayPal accounts and are familiar with the brand:
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
Security Around the World
It’s important that with each international transaction, you have peace of mind that the payment and process was secure from beginning to end. Be sure to ask your payment provider or solution about fraud protection and secure checkout in your desired geography before moving forward with their services.
Launching an international strategy is already complicated. You don’t need your payment solution to be complicated, too. Look for payment solutions that offer all-in-one packages, including:
- Multi-currency conversion
- Return shipping
- Payment options (including funding sources)
- Mass payouts
Your Next Steps
As you continue to build out your international launch strategy, or optimize one that has already been launched, be sure to build out your list of questions and feature needs for your global payment provider(s).
Here are some additional things to think through as well:
- How do I determine what international labels and documents are needed? Unless you’re a shipping expert, it’s difficult to know the requirements for each country. Solutions providers like Borderlinx can help you take care of all of the documentary requirements. These include customs declarations, commercial invoices, international manifests, and labels – all of which are subject to certain regulations.
- Why does it take longer to process and ship international orders? Shipping time varies by the means of transportation. Some shippers use air express services, which can deliver globally in 1-3 days. Should a merchant use a more traditional postal solution, you can expect to wait about 14 business days for an international shipment to be delivered.
- How do I insure my shipment? Cargo insurance policies are available. Many shipping providers will also let you protect shipments at an individual level.
- What are the most complicated countries to ship to from the European Union? Certain countries have stricter importation restrictions. Egypt, India, Brazil, and Russia are among them. However, you should not be dissuaded from exporting to those regions. Look to an expert resource that can help you navigate the intricacies of shipping to these markets.
- How should I handle duties and tax disputes with a buyer? Shipments are governed by International Commercial Terms, or ‘incoterms.’ The terms of the purchase define your level of responsibility. For example, the DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) incoterm means that you, the seller, are responsible for all of the costs associated with the duties and taxes and shipping of the product.
- What happens if my shipment was lost or damaged during transit? Cargo air carriers have limited liability. If the cost of goods sold is high, then it’s advisable to gain additional shipment value protection.