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Six Top Tips for SMEs to Boost Cross-Border Trade

By Raj Subramaniam
Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Marketing, FedEx

Check out these six top tips from the latest FedEx-commissioned study titled “Seizing the Cross-Border Opportunity.” Conducted by Forrester Consulting, the study surveyed over 9,000 global online shoppers and 34 SMEs with cross-border eCommerce operations. The key takeaway? In 2015, European businesses must tailor their online offerings to multiple consumer preferences — a “one size fits all” approach will result in bust rather than boom.

  1. Stand out from the crowd
    Shoppers are influenced by a variety of factors when making cross-border purchases, but the most influential reason cited in the report is that the item is not available in their home country, with 75% of respondents considering this “very influential” or “influential.”

  2. List your products on a trusted online marketplace
    The majority of respondents in every country surveyed ranked major multi-brand online retailers or marketplaces as their first choice out of five business types for cross-border purchases.

  3. Leverage logistics expertise
    Work closely with at least one major logistics company. Such providers can supply global coverage, delivery speed/consistency and competitive cost. What really distinguishes the preferred providers, though, is the service and support in calculating taxes and duties, filling out paperwork, allowing a merchant to bill upfront for duties and simplifying cross-border returns.

  4. Crunch those numbers!
    Study your current international traffic and business. A large number of merchants interviewed started their cross-border business unintentionally, as international customers found them through easily accessible methods such as web search and online ads.

  5. Target success
    Decide whether to go broad or narrow. Are you going to try to serve many markets, or focus on a few? Does your merchandise have broad appeal or is it more attractive to certain countries? If you are focusing on a few markets, consider whether it’s worth investing more in services such as website translations, web advertising and broader payment offerings.

  6. Final takeaway
    Identify the right resources based on your strategy and future needs. Think about services and offerings that will make a difference to the customers you want to reach. Whether your customers find retailers through word of mouth, search engines, or ads, the best results will no doubt come from having a reliable logistics provider with global network expertise.