The level of development of global communication and transportation infrastructure allows to export goods purchased on-line to any place in the world. A company selling abroad through the on-line platform must consider itself as a traditional exporter. Because, regardless a sales channel, exporting has several implications, an on-line exporter must consider following factors:
- Government Registration
In many countries exporters must be specifically registered and provide regular reports for statistics purposes. Remember, even sending digital material or a paid phone consultation provided to a client abroad is considered as export.
Value added or sales tax must not be charged from buyers abroad. However, as an exporter you have a right to claim that tax back according to the legislation of your country.
- Export Restrictions and Embargo
The country of export may ban international trade with other countries or restrict exports of certain products, and companies must comply with it.
- Customs Clearance
In many countries if you send goods worth $2000 or less you are exempt from customs paperwork and paying duties. This must be checked with customs office of the countries of destination. Digital products and services are exempt by their nature.
Target audience for the product or service and marketing activities must be identified and appropriate strategies (e.g. social media advertising) must be chosen. The good practice is to give the information to buyers on their own language, so the web site, materials and product or service documentation must be properly translated. After all, an appropriate marketing channel must be found (whether it’s a local search engine or web site, or offline events and promotions).
Whether this is a digital or material product it must be adapted to the use of foreign buyers and comply with their countries’ legislation. At the very least, products must contain the description and necessary documentation in buyers’ languages. Packaging and labeling required by the country of destination must be in place in case of offline delivery.
First of all, in the majority of countries it is mandatory by law to set prices in national currency. An on-line exporter must be able to convert prices into buyers’ currencies. Secondly, the price may include or not include shipping and handling. In any case shipping and handling must be set clearly. Remember that shipping and handling is subject to fluctuations depending on the place of destination.
- Payment System (Technology)
Payment system must be capable of accepting payment instruments common to the countries of buyers. For example, one type of credit cards may be common for some countries but uncommon for others. Electronic payment systems like PayPal are not available in some countries and currencies. Payment systems must be able to convert currencies. Payment systems must be technically supported from foreign buyers’ desktops, use their language and provide 24 hours availability as you can get orders in the middle of the night in your time zone.
The fastest and safest mode of transportation must be chosen. For on-line shipping e-mail and document transfer or sharing services are acceptable. For offline delivery everything depends on the weight and dimensions of the product, distance between the buyer and the seller, urgency and other factors. Offline shipments must comply with Incoterms® 2010 framework.
- Return Policy
If the buyer is not satisfied, there must be a way to reclaim a product back to you and give money back to the customers. This way must be set up in advance and the information on who pays which costs in case of return must be communicated to the buyer before one made a purchase.
- Warranty and After Sales Service Policy
Depending on the nature a product or service purchased online may need to be repaired, fixed, updated or request the seller’s consultation. These situations must be thought out in advance and the ways of delivery of company’s obligations must be shaped and communicated to a client before one made a purchase. With regards to the warranty period it may be required to check with the industry legislation of the countries of buyers.
Privacy legislation is different from country to country. However general principles of non-disclosure of personal information and limited business use are pretty common. Personal information must be appropriately protected (e.g. masked, encrypted etc). If you have majority of customers coming from one or two particular countries you may want to check their privacy legislation to comply with it.
Should you have any questions on Export Tips for On-line Sellers or interested in development or implementation of your international e-commerce solution, contact Win Global Partners