Ajeet Khurana

Ajeet is an angel investor focusing on early stage startups. Ajeet is a former CEO of SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), the startup incubator at Bombay IIT.

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Ecommerce Dissolves National Boundaries - Make Sure You Do Too

“I find that a large number of organized businesses are not doing enough to tap into the ocean of opportunities that open up with selling abroad.”

Photo Credit : Getty Images,

There is no denying that ecommerce is an online revolution. It has altered:

What we consume
How we consume it
The influence of our social networks on our purchase patterns
Mark-ups retailers can make
The range of products we can buy

... and much more.

But all the above has been written about to death in mainstream media. What does not get covered as much is the phenomenon of cross border ecommerce.

What's the big deal with cross border ecommerce?

Ecommerce has many advantages and disadvantages. What excites me the most is that it provides as much market access to the small guy as it does to the giants. Cross border ecommerce extends this access to the entire globe. Today it is possible for a one-person manufacturing unit of, say, handbags, in a tiny third-world country to list on third-party market places and sell in dozens of countries.

Despite this obvious benefit, I find that a large number of organized businesses are not doing enough to tap into the ocean of opportunities that open up with selling abroad. Sure there are some serious challenges to cross border ecommerce. But ecommerce business owners must do more than simply wait for the accidental international visitor to land up on their website and place an order.

In talking with many ecommerce founders, I find that they pride themselves on something like, "we receive close to 5% of our orders from abroad, though we make zero effort towards cross border ecommerce." My response is usually, "Is that something that you should be proud of, or something that should alert you to your lack of effort in the right place?"

If you don't know what to do, start with effective social media marketing

Lots of ecommerce entrepreneurs I meet, confess that they are not yet ready for a full blown invasion into other countries. They are not keen to set up office and incorporate legal entities abroad. That is understandable. So if you are a small ecommerce setup with global aspirations, the least you can do is to make strategic use of social media for international customers. Done right, this should initiate a relationship with prospects in your target markets. And when you are ready for greater involvement in that country, you will already have a sizeable following that will help you hit the ground running. Other than social media marketing, I would also agree that content marketing could be a great mode of cost-effective international marketing.

Cross border ecommerce represents a rational mode of business expansion

If you are, and have deep penetration in the US market, you will find that growth is now easier to come by in other countries. At the same time, if you are a small time online seller in India, with close to zero marketing budget, you too will find that with some social media effort you can get international orders. Ecommerce is a great leveler; cross border ecommerce all the more so. If you are serious about your ecommerce venture, do not leave money on the table. Do not ignore the international sales opportunity.

Ajeet has shared these same views here.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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