The eCommerce Innovation Lab (EIL) views ecommerce as a sales channel, a horizontal business process that crosses all industries and businesses. If you have a website you are doing ecommerce- the question is how well are you doing it, and are you getting the ROI you can from it? eCommerce requires you to learn some new vocabulary, but your business approach should feel the same.
Last Published: 6/12/2019

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What is eCommerce?

What is "Cross-Border eCommerce"?

Cross-border ecommerce is international ecommerce. It is literally "selling across a border using ecommerce", as opposed to the general concept of “ecommerce”.
Global map showing cross-border ecommerce shipments with arrows

B2B eCommerce

Business to business (B2B) ecommerce transactions are made between businesses, where a supplier sells in bulk

B2C eCommerce

Business to consumer (B2C) is where a business sells its product directly to a customer, either directly from a company website or an online marketplace

What is an eCommerce Marketplace?

  • A third-party website that hosts vendor pages as online storefronts
  • Transactions are processed by the marketplace service provider/operator
  • A part of your ecommerce sales channel mix, along with your website, social media, and in-country partner/distributor with strong online presence.

What is an eCommerce Platform?

  • A series of software technologies that are integrated into a business's website
  • Allows a business to solicit products or services from their website to complete the sales cycle
Graphic showing the cascading software applications required for an online sales website. Software listed includes login portal, CRM, inventory, fulfillment, product management, web analytics, payment.

What is a Digital Strategy?

A digital strategy addresses the basic needs of a business required to succeed in cross-border ecommerce sales channels.  Look around for reputable and helpful resources to help you understand abstract concepts such as internationalization/globalization from a business perspective as you work towards increasing your ROI from the ecommerce sales channel.

Understanding the eCommerce Transaction Process will help you to make the connection between the software and service providers that support it, however your eCommerce Sales Channel Mix may contain more than just your website as a channel for product/brand marketing and sales.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your online content that enables your site to be found when someone is searching online. Web analytics software serves to be the driving force in SEO- it provides you the information about how your site is viewed by search engines, so you can optimize that automated process on your end.

What eCommerce Regulations and Taxes are there?

  • U.S. Export Regulations still apply to ecommerce transactions
  • eCommerce Taxes & Regulations are not legally distinct from traditional point-of-sale transactions
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) & EU-U.S. Privacy Shield - All U.S. companies who are exporting to the European Union, marketing to EU citizens, or addressing inquiries from EU citizens for their products or services must comply with EU data privacy rules. The GDPR took effect May 25, 2018 and applies to all industry sectors. Register for recorded webinar on getting ready for GDPR”  Please register here to watch a pre-recorded webinar (May 22, 2018).

Are you looking for an ecommerce service provider to help you navigate online tax and legal regulations? Check out our eCommerce Business Service Provider Directory Legal & Regulatory section to see who can help you with Export Compliance, Data Privacy, and even Intellectual Property Rights.

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

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