An overview of the channels that US consumers use to sell to international customers.
Last Published: 10/20/2016
There are three main eCommerce channels to consider: your company's website with, or without, the ability to accept payment and initiate fulfillment; one or more of the global ecommerce platforms; and small e-commerce platforms that cater to specific regions and markets. Some of the global platforms have created country specific sites, mostly for buyers and sellers within those markets but also open to other sellers.  Keep in mind that consumers are showing a preference for marketplaces that feature many products and many brands.

It is common for sellers to use multiple channels in order to reach more potential buyers.  Your choices then are to go broad or narrow, realizing that a presence on multiple channels may tax your ability to monitor and manage them all.  An option is to start narrow—your own site plus a popular marketplace with a worldwide reach.  Test the waters before expanding further.

Selling to Consumers:
Ways in which US retailers say they sell to international customers:
  • Through marketplaces (eBay, Amazon, Alibaba, Rakuten, etc.)
  • 40.5%
  • With international versions of our (the exporter’s website
  • 33.3%
  • By offering international payment on our website
  • 26.1%
  • Our site is translated based on where it’s being viewed
  • 20.7%
  • We use a third-party company to market globally
  • 9.0%
Source:  Multichannel Merchant Magazine, July 2014
Transactional Site
People who shop online are most familiar with this type of website. A transactional site may be an electronic storefront for a brick-and-mortar retailer, a catalog business, or a manufacturer showroom for those wishing to sell directly to the public. Transactional sites conduct full “end-to-end” transactions via the website, allowing customers to search for, order, and pay for products online as well as allowing them to contact the company for after-sales service. The most sophisticated sites create efficiencies by integrating the transaction process with back-office systems such as accounting, inventory, sales and others.
Information Delivery Site
This site generates sales by promoting company and product awareness rather than facilitating online transactions. Its function is similar to a brochure, providing information about the product, or service, and contact information on how to proceed with a purchase. Because this site is often static and doesn’t require the software systems necessary for online transactions, it is less expensive to design and maintain than the transactional site.

DISCLAIMER: Links to websites outside the U.S. Federal Government, or the use of trade, firm, or corporation names within the International Trade Administration websites ( and are for the convenience of the user. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the U.S. Commerce Department of any private sector website, product, or service. When selecting links, be aware that you are subject to the privacy and security policies of the owners/sponsors of the outside website. Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration 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 trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

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