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B2B Cross-Border Ecommerce: Sell Products in New Markets



Online shopping takes place around the clock and around the world. This global market for ecommerce transactions now makes up a critical share of international trade. The World Trade Organization estimates steady growth for cross-border commerce (including ecommerce) over the coming decade.

If your company makes business-to-business (B2B) sales, you’ve probably considered joining the expanding world of B2B cross-border ecommerce. Adopting an international B2B ecommerce strategy allows you to access a vast customer base. Here’s how to structure your ecommerce platform for cross-border selling.

What is B2B cross-border ecommerce?

B2B cross-border ecommerce refers to businesses in different countries buying and selling goods or services online. B2B cross-border ecommerce leverages digital platforms, websites, and online marketplaces to facilitate the exchanges, regardless of the businesses’ locations.

Benefits of B2B cross-border ecommerce

A B2B cross-border business model can offer several significant benefits to ecommerce business owners. Here are some key advantages:

  • Access to new markets and customers. Selling cross-border allows businesses to access entirely new markets and customer segments. Cross-border ecommerce can be especially beneficial if the domestic market is saturated or there’s a demand for your products and services in international markets.
  • Diversification and risk mitigation. Diversifying your customer base across different countries can reduce the risk associated with economic fluctuations or market-specific challenges in one region. If business slumps in North America but surges in Southeast Asia, your cross-border ecommerce strategy might help offset the slowdown.
  • Competitive advantage in your market segment. Entering new markets via cross-border ecommerce can provide a competitive advantage. Businesses that enter foreign markets can establish brand visibility and customer loyalty before other international competitors arrive.
  • Product life extension. Products reaching the end of their life cycle in one market might have extended life cycles in other regions. Cross-border ecommerce lets you pivot to international markets when a product loses its luster at home.
  • Extended selling seasons. Ecommerce businesses can take advantage of seasonal variations in demand by selling in different countries with varying climates and holiday seasons. For example, a North American swimwear business can target markets in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer months of December through March.
  • Economies of scale. International expansion can lead to economies of scale in production, procurement, and logistics, potentially reducing costs per unit and increasing overall profitability.
  • Maximizing existing resources. Expanding into global markets online will enable you to pursue new business opportunities without significantly increasing overhead costs.

Best practices for B2B cross-border ecommerce

International expansion can lead to new customers and business growth for your B2B ecommerce operation. The process requires legwork and attention to detail. Here are five strategies to ensure successful B2B cross-border expansion:

Conduct market research

First, analyze the demand for your products and services in your target market. You’ll need to run a competitive analysis, identifying gaps in the market that your products and services can fill. Study competitors’ pricing strategies and positioning, which may vary based on local economies and consumer expectations.

Choose the right ecommerce platform and payment gateway

Opt for a flexible and scalable ecommerce platform that supports multi-language, multi-currency, and international shipping. You’ll also want a payment gateway that supports multiple currencies and offers secure transactions compliant with international standards.

Beyond this, look for platforms that give you the ability to contextualize your catalog for different markets. For example, you may want to show one product line to customers in North America, but not to customers located in Australia. On the same token, you should be able to offer different currencies, languages, shipping and payment options, and products without having to open a new store for each. This work quickly gets complicated and is unscalable when you’re expanding to new markets.

Shopify offers industry-leading ecommerce functionality and an app store filled with international B2B solutions, making it a strong choice for many cross-border businesses.

Optimize your website for international customers

Translate your website content into the local languages of the target market. Use region-specific formats for dates, addresses, and contact information. Display prices and transactions in the local currency to provide clarity and transparency to international customers. Clearly state taxes, shipping costs, and delivery times for international orders.