Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How marketplaces act as tech ecosystems for sellers wishing to sell internationally

By Tony Preedy, managing director at Fruugo

There are many reasons why sellers would and should market their products overseas. Indeed, expanding reach to a global scale is a key part of many retailers’ growth strategies and can be a highly effective defence against falling local demand.

However, when retailers start selling internationally, there are a vast number of hurdles to overcome which can be complex and costly. To help with this, cross-border-centric marketplaces massively simplify the execution of an international growth strategy.

The challenges of cross-border selling

For retailers who wish to conduct cross-border e-commerce via their own website, they firstly need to translate their whole website for each of their target markets. This includes the banners and assets that appear across the website, the way in which the categories are listed, how the onsite search engine works and each product’s page. Initially, this is a one-off project for sellers’ existing inventory, but then each new listing requires another translation, so retailers continuously need to make updates. 

Similarly significant is dealing with the currencies of each target market. Sellers need to decide whether they will reprice as exchange rates move as well as what, if any, foreign exchange risk they are prepared to accept. 

On top of that, it’s important that sellers market their products in each new region. So, their advertising campaigns must be translated, and traffic from those adverts needs to be directed to the respective localised website for each target market. 

Of course, a crucial component of any retailer’s website is the various static elements such as the checkout function; setting websites up so that they are capable of accepting multinational traffic is a non-trivial task. 

There are certainly technology solutions and services that can aid retailers with these processes, and many will find it is worth the investment. However, if sellers were to adapt their website to accommodate all of these changes – before knowing whether they even have demand overseas – this can be a major headache, especially for smaller sellers.

Simplifying cross-border selling

By listing their products on marketplaces, sellers have access to an ecosystem of technology solutions that simplify the key aspects of international selling on one integrated platform.  

Some of these platforms are capable of orchestrating overseas advertising on behalf of their retailers’ products, using their algorithms to constantly scan the universe of shoppers for opportunities to match global demand to supply. 

Certain cross-border-centric marketplaces also support vendors with registering for the relevant taxes for shipping to different regions too, which is often a time-consuming task. So, all that’s left for sellers to do is ship the package to the customer using their preferred courier. 

Having these capabilities in one place helps sellers jump through the necessary hoops of cross-border selling and reduces both complexity and cost. In turn, retailers benefit from the perks of a sophisticated cross-border selling strategy and what would otherwise be a series of expensive digital transformation projects.

Furthermore, on many marketplaces, sellers only incur costs when the products are sold. So, for those who don’t yet know whether they have demand in other regions, sellers can list their products and benefit from risk-free incremental sales by putting their product in front of many more buyers.

Selling overseas therefore has a far lighter impact on the business, allowing retailers to put their efforts into leveraging their inventory in the most effective way to gain additional sales at full price, without needing to discount. 

For example, if a UK-based retailer has winter apparel left over at the end of the season, many would consider discounting it to clear their inventory. However, using cross-border marketplaces, this excess seasonal stock can be sold at full price to regions in the southern hemisphere at the start of their winter where the demand remains.

High growth, high ROI

Of course, there may be some effort associated with getting set up on marketplaces, but this is a one-off investment and something that sellers should invest time in. Once complete, they can sell their products across international markets and supercharge their growth while the platform does the hard work. Given many marketplaces offer a no-sale, no-fee model, the financial impact of listing on them is minimal.

With the right support and tools, cross-border e-commerce can boost retailers’ growth in turnover and profits by focusing beyond domestic shoppers and tapping into global demand. By listing on multiple marketplaces, sellers achieve even more reach and visibility for their products by increasing the number of channels where their product range can be discovered and purchased.