Finding Foreign Buyers: eCommerceeCommerce Plan Checklist
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Getting Started: Cross-border eCommerce Checklist
While international sales are often more easily attained through cross-border eCommerce, new opportunities bring new responsibilities: complying with regulations, collecting additional information about your product, and managing new risks. The article below outlines the elements needed to find international buyers and complete international sales. Integrate these items into your business operations from the start of the sales-and-fulfillment process.
- Select eCommerce channels— which ones and why?
- What are your target countries (English-speaking countries, free trade agreement partners, those with high rates of cross-border -purchases, etc.)?
- Are the target countries compatible with the eCommerce channels?
- What are your projected sales and revenues versus anticipated eCommerce expenses?
- Who is selling similar goods?
- How are they describing the products, and in which marketplaces and at what prices?
- What goods will you sell, and what prices will you charge based on your costs and the costs to the customer (including estimated duties and taxes)?
- How will you handle fulfillment? What parts, if any, will you outsource?
- How will website content be managed in accordance with best practices?
- What metrics will be used, and how will analyses be acted upon?
IP and Regulations
- How will you protect your intellectual property (IP), such as trademarks and designs?
- Could you formally file for protection in each international market?
- What are the steps for complying with U.S. and foreign market regulations, and which staff member will be responsible for compliance?
Customer Service issues
- What are your customer service policies for international sales?
- How will you handle warranty matters and returns?
- What can be learned from online buyer comments?
Intellectual Property Protection Abroad
Take steps to protect your IP, including your brand names, company name, trademarks, and logos (among others). Simply protecting your IP in the United States does not mean it is protected anywhere else. Unscrupulous businesses often referred to as patent or trademark “trolls” search the internet looking for IP to grab and register in their country. Then, when your business arrives in a new market (for example, in a large marketplace’s country-specific eCommerce platform, such as Alibaba.com in China), trolls inform you that you’ve violated their IP and demand large fees to license property that once was yours.
Protect your investment by registering your IP in markets you’ve targeted. Often, registration is neither difficult nor expensive. In the European Union (EU), for instance, you register only one time and gain protection in all EU countries. For additional information on registering and protecting your IP in key countries around the world, visit stopfakes.gov or contact your local U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist.
Export.gov, the U.S. federal government’s export portal, links to many resources, including the following:
- The eCommerce Export Resource Center has videos and other resources available:
o Price your product
o Protect your brand
o Ship your products
o Chose the right channel mix
o Optimize your users' experience
o Get Paid
o Manage after-sale service
- Locate a trade expert and learn about the services of the U.S. Commercial Service’s global office network.
- Country Commercial Guides provide the latest market intelligence on more than 140 countries from U.S. embassies worldwide
- A Basic Guide to Exporting provides additional insight on global web use. See Chapter 11: Going Online-E-Exporting Tools for Small Businesses.
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 (export.gov and trade.gov) 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 http://export.gov/usoffices.
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