What is an International E-commerce Store?

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Owning an international e-commerce store can be a key to unlocking new growth opportunities for your business. You will be able to offer your products to a broader customer base and improve conversion rates.


What is international E-commerce?

International e-commerce refers to the buying and selling of goods, products, and services across international borders using the Internet.  It is electronic commerce involving parties from two or more different countries.  

Due to an increase in consumers’ preference and patronage of foreign brands, e-commerce has seen a significant surge in trading volumes. 

Through e-commerce, business activities, payments, and shipping details for purchased products and services can be quickly processed online. Moreover, by using the customer’s provided details and a logistics network, physical products can be delivered to intended locations, saving time and costs, and improving flexibility.

Even with the accelerated growth international e-commerce has seen in recent years, there is still more to come.

The global e-commerce market was estimated to pass $2 trillion in 2020, while U.S. market revenues alone would have crossed the $490 billion mark by 2024.

As the increase in digital devices’ availability makes global connectivity easier, more companies can now market their products and services to a worldwide market. This removes the limitations of traditional brick-and-mortar stores, taking online commercial activities to a whole new level. 

International e-commerce can also serve as a means to test the viability of new products in foreign markets before opening a physical store in such countries. Therefore, businesses in retail services can assess their products’ demand in foreign markets before deciding to set up brick-and-mortar stores.


What are the four types of commerce?

Electronic commerce can be divided into different categories. It can be classified based on;

  • the way business activities are conducted,
  • the types of products sold, the parties involved in the transaction process,
  • and even the platform used for conducting such activities. 

However, modern e-commerce uses the parties engaged in the transaction process as a standard way of classification.

Based on this classification, e-commerce can be grouped into four business models.

They are:

  • Business to Consumers

More commonly called B2C, this e-commerce business model involves an online sales transaction between businesses and individuals. It is also the most common business model; producers and service providers sell to end-users/consumers.

Examples of businesses that run this model include Amazon and Nike. Both are into selling their products directly to end-users.  

Another good example is when you buy a vase directly from an online store. The consumer shops online, make a payment, and the product is delivered to the specified location.

  • Business to Business

The B2B business model is slightly different from the B2C model. It involves a business engaging in a transaction with another company.

For example, business transactions between a wholesaler and a retailer or between a manufacturer and a wholesaler. 

In this business model, the transaction is not consumer-targeted. Products usually exchanged include software services, raw materials, etc. Also, this e-commerce model involves more significant financial commitments than the B2C model.

  • Consumer to consumer

Here consumers are in direct contact with each other online, exchanging products, services, and payments.

Companies are circumvented in this business model, and consumers sell their goods and assets directly to another interested end-user. 

Products such as automobiles and electronics are usually the ones transacted. OLX is an excellent example of an e-commerce business built on this model.

  • Consumer to Business

This is a reverse of the B2C e-commerce model. Here, the consumer is selling to the business, e.g., a freelancer offering video editing services to a company.


How big is the global market?

To understand the size of the global market potential for international e-commerce stores, let’s take a few looks at some statistics:

  • In 2019, sales from e-commerce hit a record $3.5 trillion. This figure is expected to cross the $4.9 trillion mark before the close of 2021.
  • In the U.S. alone, e-commerce accounts for more than 10% of all retail sales.

Now, with the world’s current population of over 7 billion and a global internet penetration rate of 59%, opportunities are abundant for a massive boom in e-commerce.  Also, cross-border retail is opening up new markets in foreign countries, thus increasing the global market scale.


How can I sell online internationally?

Getting your products and services into the international market via e-commerce might sound a little complicated. However, in reality, it is simple. If done right, selling online internationally can give your brand a big break, you’ve always wanted.

Here is how to get started with cross-border e-commerce selling:

  • Create a solid e-commerce plan

Regardless of whether you’ll be starting your business as an e-commerce or you’ll be transitioning from a brick-and-mortar store, the need for a solid plan can not be overlooked.

The best way to test your e-commerce plan for international selling is to try it out on a local basis. This will give you an idea of loopholes, product gaps, and how you can further tweak your business model for optimum performance.

  • Get feedback from users

Feedback from users is often the most reliable way to assess the effectiveness of your marketing methods. Launch a test model of your e-commerce store locally and gather feedback from your customers. This will allow you to address issues that might become potential problems when you go on an international scale.

  • Identify a strategy for adapting to your international markets

You don’t necessarily need to sell your products and services to every country on the map. What you do need is to, however, identify countries with a steady demand for your products and services.

Also, if you have the required resources, you can create the demand for your products.

After identifying the countries you’re going to work with, you’ll have to consider other factors like logistics (if you’ll be selling physical products) and the language barrier (if there is one)

  • Follow the required legal frameworks

Every country has its unique legal requirements for trading—one of the most important of which is taxes. 

File your paperwork accordingly and get the necessary legal backing needed. After this, you can get to the last step.

  • Launch and Market your e-commerce store

As you prepare to launch your e-commerce store, take advantage of available advertising platforms to aggressively market your brand. Marketing your e-commerce store also has to be an ongoing activity. You can choose to use paid marketing platforms or optimise your site for SEO.


What are the top ten International e-commerce sites?

While international e-commerce stores continue to boom, there are, however, some businesses and companies that seem to have mastered this online selling space. Here is a list of the top 10 e-commerce sites across the world that command a significant percentage of all e-commerce trading volumes.

  • Daalder

Daalder is an e-commerce solution designed for businesses and developers alike, thus, giving you total control over your store and the features provided. Daalder comes with a multi-language plugin that allows you to sell to consumers in foreign countries without being limited by the language barrier. 

There is also a fast search engine integrated into the platform that allows you to customise your shopping needs alongside multiple payment gateways for processing 

  • Best Buy

Best Buy began as a consumer electronic retailer in the 1960s but has since then extended its reach into other product niches, including fashion, furniture, and fitness. BestBuy ranks number 3 in the electronics and tech e-commerce category.

  • T-mall

T-mall is one of the most visited e-commerce stores in China. It was founded in 2008 by Taobao. T-mall has over 200 million registered buyers and commands steady traffic of around 500 million active users every month. T-mall runs on the B2C e-commerce model.

  • Etsy

Etsy is a significant global marketplace that focuses on vintage, handmade (crafts), and uniquely manufactured items. The e-commerce store also allows businesses and individuals to sell their products, including photography, toys, and other different products, to other users. Etsy draws traffic of about 450 million a month and made a revenue of $603.7 million in 2018 alone.

  • Taobao

Taobao is the most prominent online marketplace in China and was founded by the Alibaba group in 2003. 

Taobao operates a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce model, allowing individual and small retailers to sell to users across China and abroad. 

Taobao has over one billion product listings as of 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down. Its e-commerce store serves more than 500 million users monthly and is the world’s largest e-commerce website, second only to Amazon.

  • AliExpress

When AliExpress was launched in 2010, it started on a B2B e-commerce model. The company has expanded its reach to accommodate the Business-to-consumer (B2C) and the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) business models. It is owned by the Alibaba group and has over 450 million users monthly.

  • Rakuten

Rakuten is a leading Japanese e-commerce website that specializes in electronic and online retail services. Rakuten is often referred to as the “Amazon of Japan” due to the size of its business operations. The business made a whopping operating profit of about 347.9 million in 2016 and continues to attract about 550 million visitors every month.

  • Walmart

Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue and has its operating headquarters in the U.S.A. It also has retail outlets in many other different countries. The Walmart e-commerce store sees traffic of around 450 million users a month.

  • eBay

eBay is one of the oldest e-commerce companies, raking in more than 850 million users on their e-commerce platform every month. The eBay website is a shopping and online auction platform where millions of people transact goods, services, and payments every day.

  • Amazon

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce website globally, with more than 750,000 employees and 2.5 billion unique site visits per month on Amazon.com. The e-commerce giant also has dedicated domains and servers for many other countries.


What is the biggest E-commerce platform in the world?

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce globally, offering a wide variety of products, including accessories, music, tools, hardware, books, sports equipment, and a whole lot more.

However, when it comes to building your e-commerce store, Shopify is the leading platform for electronic commerce.

The platform allows you to hit the ground running by ensuring everything you need to get started is already integrated. You can also upgrade your e-commerce store, add new features and customize it to suit your brand outlook.


How can I grow my E-commerce?

Getting your E-commerce store started is one thing; scaling your business model is another. Here are some tips to help you grow your e-commerce business.

  • Fill competitive gaps

Look for critical areas in the product, delivery, marketing, or customer relations that you can improve on to make you stand out from the pack. Often, you’ll find many of these gaps in the marketing and advertising efforts. 

In most developing countries, there is a steady increase in the use of mobile phones. One of the ways to exploit this, for example, is creating a mobile app version of your e-commerce store.

 You can also look for ways to make delivery faster, improve customer user experience on your website and deal with customer complaints more effectively.

  • Adapt to demands

Demands for particular products and services change across locations. By conducting market research and employing analytical tools, track the flow of demand for the products and services you are offering. This will allow you to know which products and services are most needed, along with the ones you should consider adding to your catalogue.


What percentage of commerce is E-commerce?

E-commerce penetration reached 21.3% in 2020, bringing the total e-commerce revenue to $174.87 billion in the United States alone.  

E-commerce now carries a significant 44% of all commercial activities carried out in the U.S.


Which is an example of an e-commerce platform?

Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and AliExpress are examples of the top e-commerce websites in the world. On the other hand, Daalder, Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce are examples of e-commerce shopping solutions for building your store.

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