This page provides resources and considerations for identifying how and which countries to choose to sell your products online to. In addition to product sales information, it is important to research and understand the local business rules and regulations, in addition to being aware of trade barrier assistance available to US businesses selling online.
Last Published: 10/22/2018

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Selling successfully through ecommerce sales channels (website, social, marketplace, 3rd party) requires that you understand your market entry strategy and ecommerce best practices from an export mechanics (overseas online sales=exports) standpoint.

To identify market opportunities, it is important to evaluate key factors such as:

You can also conduct your own ecommerce market research or use available website analytics tools to help you narrow your top 3 markets, or contact an International Trade Specialists nearest you for free 1 on 1 exporting and digital strategy counselling.

What can I do to determine that my product will sell online in the local market in my target country?

Take the time to conduct some basic research about the existing availability of products in your category by searching ecommerce retailers in the country, consulting experts, and asking potential customers about the country- specific access issues they have with finding the product. Find out which channels they go through for online purchases and in what ways they have researched about the product leading to the sale. A simple way to do this is by using overseas marketplaces to search products with translated keywords in the market's native language, and see what products are available- their quality, who is selling, competition, and consider how your product(s) can find leverage among local consumers.  If your product is superior in quality or features and carries the “Made in the U.S.A” label on it, there is still strong potential for market success given the high desire overseas for quality U.S. made goods.

How do I "evaluate" the local ecommerce market?

In addition to sales figures, you'll want to first identify what the competitive landscape looks like in your target market. Is the market share across your product category "fragmented" with lots of smaller competitors jockeying for sales?  Determine your value proposition on how you will differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Contrarily, is there one dominant competitor? If so, then evaluate this competitor. Find out if the competitor has a monopoly on the market or whether they are only serving part of the population of a whole customer segment. Further examine why there is little competition. Does the market or provincial lawmakers have “protectionist” tendencies in favor of the local competition?  This could be a red flag that entering this market comes with potential trade barriers.

Is cross-border ecommerce affected by the overseas local laws and regulations?

Yes. Tax laws, customs laws, corporate organization governance, ingredient/product restrictions, and overseas domestic laws need to be understood prior to entering a new market. Does the target market government restrict access to certain raw materials or skilled labor?  A few overseas governments are also reluctant towards opening up to certain foreign investment or business expansion. A local liaison/representative is also helpful in navigating legal interpretations and understanding local business law protocol, and we have several low-cost business matchmaking services. When in doubt, always seek guidance from the regulatory bodies in any overseas market regarding interpretation of laws and regulations, especially when the responsibility of understanding the local laws lays with your business or one of your ecommerce service providers.

Are there local challenges in infrastructure (cold-chain, logistics, technology) that would make your product more desirable?

Thoroughly understand your target markets and any distribution issues faced there. If your business has the resources to overcome the infrastructure challenges faced, you may be able to overcome any competition in that market as well.

 

Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.



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