These days, having an international online shop can be a promising investment. The profit margins are attractive but it is important to learn how to navigate the complex legal, logistical, and bureaucratic practices governing this area of trade.
International eCommerce: requirements and regulations
The first step you need to take when building a solid business is to find out what the legal requirements are for launching an online shop. The main global requirements for eCommerce businesses are to:
- provide information on your website about stipulating and filing contracts;
- clearly and transparently display the prices of your products and/or services and any additional shipping costs or taxes;
- summarise all order information for your customers.
Selling to international customers: the best countries to target
Although eCommerce websites can theoretically sell to customers all over the world, when you are first starting out, we recommend targeting one or a small number of markets that best suit your eCommerce product or services.
Countries that currently have strong economies include the United States, China and European countries. Among the latter, eCommerce is booming in Italy and the Netherlands, while the United Kingdom, France and Germany account for 70% of all eCommerce turnover in Europe.
How to sell to the EU online
Shipping within the EU is simpler, faster, and more direct than shipping to non-EU countries.
When shipping goods within the EU you need to generate three copies of the consignment note. One copy of the consignment note should remain with the seller, one should be given to the courier, and the final copy should be attached to the package during shipment.
To ship goods to non-EU countries you will need to fill out customs forms and have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification Code (EORI). Finally, you must generate an invoice and a free export declaration.
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International eCommerce: logistics and shipping
Logistics and international shipping are two key areas to focus on when running a successful eCommerce website.
The best solution is to rely on international couriers and freight forwarders who have been operating in a particular country for some time and are familiar with all the regulations and bureaucracy required when shipping products to certain countries.
Selling online to international customers using a marketplace
Online marketplaces are essentially like large online markets where you can sell various goods. These sales organisations are either horizontal (such as Amazon or eBay), and thus non-specialised, or vertical, meaning that they focus on a specific product sector or type of good (such as Etsy for handicrafts, for example).
Selling your products through an online marketplace allows you to lighten the logistical load, which is completely handled by the website selling your products.
This is a smart choice for companies without a logistics department or employees. You can sell your products worldwide through these marketplaces.
Selling and shipping domestic products to international customers
Selling domestic products abroad comes with several challenges. One of the most complex challenges involves having to abide by new regulations, laws and business practices.
It is therefore important to do some research about the sale conditions in place before engaging in international trade.
In addition, there is one thing in particular to consider: some goods can be legally sold in Italy but not in other countries.
You should also bear in mind that the legal documentation to attach to packages varies from country to country, so it is important to understand what’s required and to abide by the laws in place.
How to set up multi-currency payments
International trade comes with a major headache for people running online shops: allowing international customers to pay in their currency. Doing so allows you to build trust with your customers, and it also makes payment transactions simpler and clearer, thus facilitating sales.
Certain eCommerce website builders provide sellers with the tools they need to facilitate multi-currency payment transactions, such as a system that automatically updates the exchange rate between the seller’s currency and the customer’s currency.
Generating invoices in different currencies and sending the right one to the right customer will also help to optimise your company’s online sales strategy.
Translating your international online shop is essential if you want to sell your products or services abroad. But it is also an extremely delicate task. It is important that translations of your website from your mother tongue into the language spoken by your target audience are technically and linguistically correct, especially product descriptions and technical specifications.
In addition, it is important not to forget to accurately translate your general and contractual terms, i.e. all the legal texts necessary for sale and purchase.
This type of translation is a technical translation to all intents and purposes as it uses sector-specific turns of phrase written in specific language.
Localising your website
Companies that sell goods and services abroad should make sure they can gain the trust of international customers buying their products.
It is not enough to simply provide customers with an accurate website translation. You should also consider professional website translation and localisation services, such as those offered by the professional team at Eurotrad.
Website localisation involves correctly tweaking the text on a website to suit the culture of your target audience. This process involves using correct date and currency formats, a register that is in line with the socio-cultural characteristics of the country in which you will be selling your products, and knowing when holidays are celebrated so that you can schedule offers and product launches.
Browse the translation services offered by Eurotrad for international online shops and request a free, no-obligation quote today!
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