Whether you have one employee or 100, you might be surprised to hear that the most direct route to success may actually take you all the way around the world. That’s because e-commerce and advances in logistics have made global trade easier, faster and more cost-effective for businesses of all sizes – and for the customers they serve.
If your small business is aiming to compete and win in today’s changing retail environment, then you may already have an e-commerce strategy in place. Statistics, however, suggest that many small companies have yet to embrace the power of the internet; according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index report, only 25 percent of surveyed companies have the capability to sell their products or services online. While e-commerce may not be right for every small retail operation, there is little doubt that more companies can benefit by expanding their potential pool of customers though digital channels.
Consider, for instance, that 2017 saw the strongest year-over-year growth in U.S. e-commerce since 2011, with consumers spending almost $454 billion online, and you get a sense of just how significant the still-expanding e-marketplace really is. But the fact is, e-commerce is not just a U.S. growth story – it is an international one. Even if you do have an online sales strategy, you need to make sure your approach recognizes this worldwide reality. That $454 billion in U.S. e-commerce jumps to $2.3 trillion globally.
The arguments for investing in a cross-border e-commerce strategy for your company are strong. According to a DHL study, international e-commerce can boost sales by at least 10 to 15 percent, and another DHL study revealed offering international shipping can increase average shopping cart values by 70 percent (compared with domestic e-sales). Furthermore, international sales see 50 percent fewer returns than in-country transactions. The bottom line is that cross border e-commerce is growing at a rapid pace – currently assessed at an annual rate of 25 percent, or about twice the rate of domestic online sales growth. To leverage the power of global markets, and to reach some of the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders, you need an e-commerce platform and an international plan.
The International Trade Administration’s Export.gov and the Small Business Administration also offer valuable resources to help you research and target the right global markets. With guidance and persistence, you can use global e-commerce and advanced international logistics to bring your small business to the next level.