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What Is Global Ecommerce? How To Expand & Trends in 2024

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Global ecommerce is the online selling of products or services across geopolitical borders. It offers the advantages of mitigating market saturation, reaching economies of scale, strengthening brand presence internationally, and more.

Global expansion brings challenges such as legal complexity, diverse logistics, customs, currency shifts, and cultural variations. 

One way to overcome global ecommerce challenges is to collaborate with local service providers and consult native experts in the target country.

What if the globe is your marketplace? 

The global ecommerce market for cross-border shopping will reach 3 trillion by 2028. So the correct answer is probably: Great!

Judging from the number, having the world as your potential customer base is an enticing strategy. But it’s not as simple as writing it down. There are serious obstacles to overcome before reaching success in the online global commerce market. 

This article will explain what global ecommerce is, its benefits, the common challenges and how to tackle them, how to get started, and key trends to keep an eye on. 

What Is Global Ecommerce?

Global ecommerce is the practice of selling goods or services over the Internet to customers in other countries beyond your own, as opposed to domestic selling within one’s home country.

Global ecommerce allows businesses to tap into foreign markets and reach new customers. In other words, expanding internationally online.

Think Amazon, one of the largest global ecommerce platforms allowing selling in over 100 countries with local websites in 20 countries, or Alibaba, a global B2B ecommerce platform connecting millions of buyers across countries and regions to global suppliers, especially suppliers in China. 

But you don't need to be an industry titan like Amazon to go global online. Smaller businesses can also get overseas sales. 

For example, niche ecommerce companies like Pura Vida Bracelet collaborate with artisans globally and sell handmade bracelets to international fans. Or Allbirds, which ships their advertised ‘most comfortable shoes in the world to over 40 countries, plus providing local websites in 9 languages. Or Precondo, an online platform that connects global investors with real estate opportunities in Montreal. 

Pura Vida Bracelet, Allbirds, and Precondo are all examples of “global ecommerce.” 

Benefits of Global Ecommerce

Why have over 50% of retailers and manufacturers expanded beyond the domestic market? There are some good reasons.

Mitigate Market Saturation 

Market saturation happens when the amount of a product or service in a market has been maximized, and there is no more potential demand or room for new customers, limiting a business's profits. 

Once saturation hits, companies may be forced to compete solely on price and quality to take customers away from other established brands in the same saturated market.

At this point, looking beyond local sales may be a better option.

Diversify The Risk

In essence, international expansion reduces reliance on single regions.

This shares similarities with market saturation, although it is not entirely synonymous.

Imagine something unexpected happens, anything from trend shifts to strikes. This could affect how well your product sells in your country. However, you can navigate this challenge if opportunities still exist overseas. 

Reach Economies of Scale

Selling to a larger audience worldwide means increased production, ultimately reaching “economies of scale.” 

Economies of scale refer to the cost advantages businesses can achieve through increased production. In simpler words, the bigger a business gets, the lower its costs per item tend to be. 

Specifically, this can be achieved because 

  • Businesses can spread fixed costs, like the rent of existing factories or a manager’s salary, over a larger number of goods.
  • Businesses have better purchasing power with suppliers. Bigger procurement volumes mean better negotiated prices on materials, utilities, transportation, etc.
  • Businesses gain “Experience Curve Effects.” With more production runs, processes are refined, and management becomes more efficient over time. Simply put,  the more you operate, the better and more cost-efficient you get.

Increase Revenue

This is the most straightforward one. The wider market plus economies of scale lead to increased total revenue for the business.

Strengthen Brand Presence 

By positioning yourself as a global brand, you gain some automatic benefits regarding publicity and credibility. Simply stating that your brand is loved internationally builds trust and signals reliability.

You can further boost your brand value by emphasizing how you adhere to international best practices and standards worldwide. 

Reaching a wider global audience also means getting more customer testimonials and feedback from diverse people, which is useful for analyzing and fine-tuning how your brand presents itself.

Challenges of Global Ecommerce

While international expansion offers business growth, there are also significant challenges involved, including

Laws and Regulations

Consumer protection laws, safety regulations, sales taxes, VAT, product labeling, data protection, privacy, intellectual property law, and everything else that matters in the book. 

You’ve gone through these things when establishing your local ecommerce business.

But now that you are set on expanding overseas, it's a “different locations, different rules” scenario. You'll need to review all of the above again. Plus, consider your home country's export laws, import regulations in your target countries, and whether your products are subject to special oversight.

Understanding location-specific laws, policies, and best practices is crucial for global business. Not adhering to regulations leads to legal repercussions such as fines, lawsuits, or even bans from certain markets.

Overcoming This Challenge: 

  • Research laws and regulations in your target market. Refer to official sources such as Country Commercial Guides
  • Consult with professionals experienced with your target market. Lawyers, consultants, and trade organizations familiar with the nuances of regulations in that country and industry can help guide your approach to staying compliant as you start operations abroad.
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It is essential to adhere to product labeling and safety standards specific to each jurisdiction. Doing so illustrates your commitme­nt to ensuring consumer safety and providing quality products, which fosters trust among customers within the new market.

James Wilkinson avatar
James Wilkinson
CEO, Balance One Supplements

Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management

If you sell physical products, you’re racing against time. Over 90% of customers expect 2-3 days delivery, and 32% would abandon the carts if an estimated shipping time takes too long. 

Roughly speaking, these are choices for international shipping: express shipping, which takes 1-3 days; air freight, which takes 5-10 days; and sea shipping, which spans from 20-45 days or even longer. 

And yes, the quicker option is more expensive.

You may be able to get delivery times down to the satisfying 1-3 day window by spending more money on shipping. However, high shipping fees may discourage consumers; 68.2% prefer free shipping

And that's not all - while you want to offer quick and affordable delivery, you need to manage their expectations. Overpromising shipping timelines can backfire.

Imagine customers’ disappointment in getting an order after the date you quoted. Most people wouldn't stand for that - in fact, 61% would switch elsewhere after a single negative experience.

There's so much going on to get products where they need to go. And we haven’t even mentioned customs regulations yet! 

Overcoming Logistical Challenges:

  • Consider using dropshipping, international warehouses, third-party logistics, and other shipping solutions to facilitate faster deliveries.
  • A popular approach for providing free shipping is to build the estimated shipping cost plus an error margin in the product's price while keeping it reasonable to avoid scaring away customers. 
  • Another way is to set a minimum order amount for free shipping. Interestingly, 58% of shoppers will add more items to their cart to meet the free shipping requirement.

💡 Tip: Check out a comprehensive tutorial on how to dodge this challenge with the best ecommerce shipping solution

Customs regulations and duties

Customs regulations are cross-border rules for importing and exporting goods, which can vary widely from country to country. Similarly, customs duties are taxes imposed on imports or exports of goods based on their value, weight, or quantity. They are usually collected at the border or the point of delivery. 

These can affect cross-border ecommerce in the following ways.

  • Customs regulations can add to the online retailers' administrative burden.
  • Customs duties can increase the price of the goods for the buyer.
  • Customs clearance procedures can lead to delivery delays. The product might be held by customs authorities for inspection or verification, which could last for several days or even weeks. 

For instance, a US seller sending products to customers in Canada, Mexico, or Brazil might need to provide different documents. Additionally, the buyer receiving the product may or may not have to pay extra customs duties, depending on the product's value and type.

Overcoming This Challenge: 

  • Research the customs rules of the destination country beforehand. Utilize credible resources such as the International Trade Administration.
  • Consult local experts.
  • Select a shipping partner that offers pre-clearance and duty payment services.
  • Understand the available customs duty options: Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) and Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU).
  • Utilize tools like Simply Duty for duty and tax estimates.

We once had a shipment stuck in customs, but it was a great learning experience that motivated us to improve our documentation process. We had great partners to help us out, like freight forwarding and legal advisors.

a headshot photograph of Matt Little
Matt Little
Director & Owner, Festoon House

Payments and Exchange Rates

It will annoy customers when the product costs way more at checkout because of the exchange fees.

Dealing with multiple currencies and fluctuating exchange rates can be painful. Often, it turns into an unattractive hidden expense that influences purchasing decisions. 

Various factors impact the exchange rate beyond just currency differences – fees from payment processors, card networks, issuing banks, and acquiring banks all play a role.

Overcoming This Challenge: 

  • Allow customers to pay in their own currency by displaying location-based currencies. You can use a payment provider with multi-currency payment acceptance to handle conversions without cutting into profits.

    Here's how it works: Customers pay in their currency, and the provider deposits the funds into your account in that same currency. You can then decide when and how to convert these funds.
  • Offer local currency for customers and communicate potential fees upfront. Otherwise, surprise costs will discourage customers.
  • Implement strategies to lower exchange rates, for example, hedging—using financial instruments such as forward contracts, futures contracts, or swaps to secure favorable exchange rates or protect against unfavorable rate movements.

Cultural differences

When Groupon, the website for local and online deals, failed terribly in China, its local competitors’ CEOs agreed that the big part of the problem was that they failed to understand the culture. 

The company made several mistakes, such as hiring mostly American staff and selling deals that didn’t appeal to Chinese customers in the first place. 

With that said, challenges that come with cultural differences can be

  • Language - Language nuances can easily be missed. Take the case of Airb2b's Chinese name blunder as a notable example. 
  • Visual - If you're running any marketing with visuals, you must be careful. Depending on the cultural context, images, gestures, or facial expressions can convey different meanings and emotions. 

    For example, making the backward peace sign is a big no across the UK, and if you make that “hang loose“ gesture in Italy? Instant fight club. Some are more unexpected; for instance, you shouldn’t be pointing at the Moon in Taiwan.
  • Sentiment - For instance, a culture that focuses on individualism may be more likely to purchase for self-expression. In contrast, those focusing more on collectivism may be more likely to buy products that strengthen social ties. 
  • Business practices - Diverse markets adopt unique communication, negotiation tactics, and market styles. For example, some countries might prefer to pay with cash on delivery rather than online payment methods. Some might expect a quick and direct response rather than a formal one. Partnerships take nuance too - in some cultures, like China, gift-giving and respecting hierarchy is a norm.
  • Holidays - Holidays differ by country in date, duration, and how they are celebrated. If you are releasing a holiday collection, it’s best to take note. For example, Russians celebrate Christmas in January, the Netherlands’ own Santa Claus rides a white horse, and China’s Christmas fruit is apple.

    More importantly, some holidays are offensive to others. Running a campaign celebrating Columbus Day in Mexico wouldn't be a good idea. 

Overcoming Cultural Challenges:

  • Having team members who are from target countries and understand cultural sensitivity is truly invaluable.

❓Did you know? China requires brands to have a name in their language.

How to Get Started in Global Ecommerce

Now that we've discussed the pros, cons, and some solutions. If you're inspired to get cross-border sales, here's how to begin. 

Research the Demand and Supply

The first step is to research demand. Identify target customers, examine if they exist in meaningful numbers, and understand the digital buyers' behaviors and spending limits. Chances are that all these things differ from prospects in your home country.

Once you've got a good feeling about the demand, research your supply chains. Do you have enough suppliers to keep up with the demand, and can you work out a profitable deal?

Some ways to help conduct the research are:

  • Use online tools such as Google Trends to analyze the search volume, trends, and traffic of products or services in different regions.
  • Use social media platforms, especially those prominent in your target countries, to monitor your potential customers' and competitors' conversations, feedback, and sentiment.
  • Use online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba to check the sales performance, reviews, and ratings of similar products or services in different countries.

💡 Tip: Begin gradually and master one new location before expanding, rather than rushing into multiple countries.

Research Competitors 

Another important step is to research the competitors in the market and whether other businesses offer similar products or services to the same target customers, domestic and international.

By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses, pricing strategies, and market share of the competitors, you can pinpoint your own competitive advantages and disadvantages, as well as potential opportunities and threats. 

If competitors are already well-established domestically, measuring the difficulty of market entry becomes essential. On the flip side, a scarcity of rivals can indicate a cultural mismatch or strict regulations, requiring deeper investigation to ensure a fit.

Research Laws and Regulations

Some of the most common are:

  • Consumer Protection: Customer laws vary between nations. They generally demand clear product facts, fair pricing, delivery, returns, and refund policy. 
  • Data Protection and Privacy: This means sellers must protect client data (names, addresses, payment details, etc.) The specifics may differ between countries.
  • Product Safety and Quality: Safety and quality standards also vary among countries, each having its list of prohibited, defective, or dangerous products.
  • Intellectual Property Rights: This covers trademarks, patents, and copyrights regulations. 
  • Taxation and Customs: such as value-added tax (VAT), goods and services tax (GST), and customs duties. 

Sellers may need to comply with the registration, reporting, and payment processes required in each country as well. 

💡 Tip: You can use the International Trade Administration’s Country Commercial Guides as a starting point.

Research Logistics

Each logistic option has its own advantages and disadvantages regarding cost, speed, reliability, and scalability. 

Here are some of the ecommerce shipping strategies that you could choose from:

  • International Shipping: Storing products locally and shipping globally, which incur shipping costs but offer greater control.
  • International Warehousing: Owning or renting inventory space in multiple regions can cut shipping expenses. However, you may incur rental and maintenance costs.
  • Dropshipping: An ecommerce method where third-party suppliers handle manufacturing and shipping. This can reduce costs and expand the product range but comes with challenges like quality control.
  • Third-Party Fulfillment: Outsourcing inventory management, packing, and shipping to a third party to ease the process. This option is convenient but comes with the trade-off of sacrificing control.
  • Demand Service Points and Lockers: Convenient alternatives for customer pickup.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Efficient packaging can reduce costs.
  • You can strategically distribute stock among regional warehouses for shorter delivery distances, prioritizing popular or seasonal items. 
  • Some logistics firms provide temporary storage access for SMEs.
  • If you manage your delivery, you can optimize courier routes using technology (e.g., Route4Me, OptimoRoute) to boost productivity, cut fuel use, and lower costs.
  • Offer last-mile delivery tracking for customer satisfaction.
  • Develop a transparent return policy compliant with local laws and communicate it on your website.
  • Ensure compliance with customs regulations to reduce delay. 

By researching operations and logistics, you can optimize your delivery process and ensure customer satisfaction.


We've partnered with vetted local partners in more than 200 countries to bypass logistic issues, enabling us to fulfill international orders. This way, we can help customers avoid shipping costs and transit delays.

Shaunak Amin
CEO & Co-founder, SwagMagic

Explore Payment Providers

Nearly half of shopping carts are abandoned during the payment stage. Thus, having a convenient payment method in place is vital. To get there, you can start by exploring the fitting payment service provider.

A few things to focus on include:

  • Look for a provider that supports multiple currencies and offers competitive currency conversion rates.
  • Ensure compatibility and ease of integration with your existing platforms and systems.
  • Take time to understand all applicable fees upfront to maintain healthy margins and pricing transparency.
  • Above all, prioritize security measures to protect your customers' financial information. Look for a valid SSL certificate, PCI Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), and strong customer authentication (SCA).

As more and more customers shop online, the website that can offer the best checkout experience will have an advantage over the website that cannot.

💡 Tip: Find out the best payment gateways & payment methods for ecommerce 

Localize Marketing and Support

It is important to understand local customs when marketing and providing support in different areas. 

Tailor your marketing strategy and customer service based on your target audience's culture, local language, and preferences.

Aspects to consider when localizing your approach.

  • Use local influencers, testimonials, reviews, and social proof to build customer trust and credibility.
  • Pay special attention to language nuances. Launching websites in buyers’ native language is the baseline, as 76% of customers are more likely to buy if given information in their native language. However, regions may have different dialects, idioms, slang, or cultural references. Translation may not be enough; you need to localize. 
  • Learn the pricing norm. For instance, Western cultures may prefer price endings in odd numbers like 9 (9.99), while prices ending in 8 are more popular in Asia
  • Offer support through communication channels preferred in each location. For example, some countries prefer live chat or phone calls, while others may prefer email.

Optimize Your Online Store for Global Ecommerce

Lastly, ensure your storefront is optimized for global use.

Key areas to cover are:

  • Consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to improve site speed for international users. CDN works by distributing content through multiple geographic servers.
  • Use geo-targeting or dynamic content to display localized information like currencies, shipping options, and relevant offers. Geo-targeting shows content based on user location. 
  • Offer local payment methods if possible. This will boost both satisfaction and conversion. However, you need to examine the payment method terms and compliance.
  • Ensure global ecommerce website security to prevent theft and build user trust. 

💡 Tip:  Learn more about ecommerce website security in our article: 11 Best Security Services For Ecommerce Website Security

10 Global Ecommerce Trends Worth Following in 2023

While the fundamentals are key, ecommerce is constantly changing. 

Technological advancements, consumer behavior, markets, social trends, and economic factors impact it. To keep up, let's cover the trends in 2023. 

1. Global Inflation

One major challenge of ecommerce businesses has been the pressure of inflation. 

Inflation is the top concern in 2022, and despite the IMF predicting it to come down in 2023 and 2024, some believe the global economy will still experience slowing growth and significant obstacles.

Given this context, closely examine where you want to sell. 

Research targets nations' inflation rates, now and in the future. Forecast demand to see if your pricing plans will still attract buyers or profit you. 

2. Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce (m-commerce), online purchases via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, will be worth 2.2 $ trillion in 2023 and continue thriving.

It’s the right time to ensure you have responsive websites that load fast and securely on mobile, implement mobile-focused marketing, and integrate analytics to improve the mobile experience and conversions.

3. Livestreaming

Also known as live commerce, this trend was initially popular in Asia Pacific. However, Western countries are now catching up. Statistics predict the value of livestream ecommerce in the US will reach $55 billion in 2026.

Livestreaming makes online shopping personal and social for digital buyers. They can see products in use and interact with the host in real time. For sellers, it's a chance to connect personally, be creative, and build strong customer relationships. 

For those looking to leverage this trend, consider these key tips: Pick a fitting platform with a sizable audience, plan your content and schedule, promote the streams across channels, engage with viewers, and measure performance using relevant metrics.

4. Social Commerce

The global social commerce sales are set to hit 2.9 trillion US dollars by 2026.

Social commerce refers to buying or selling products or services directly through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest, which may be a more accessible, affordable, and viral way of selling online.

For social commerce success, establish consistent branding, create engaging content, enable direct shopping features, collaborate with influencers, and measure ROI effectively.

5. Omnichannel Strategy 

The omnichannel strategy aims to provide a consistent shopping experience across multiple channels, whether they're browsing online, in-store, or using another sales platform. 

This also means you can reach more customers or segments through different channels or touchpoints and increase retention through omnichannel marketing and CRM. Focusing on multiple sales avenues is so important for business success these days that retailers who don’t sell on multiple channels could be losing as much as 30% of potential revenue.

To implement, establish an integrated platform supporting various channels, ensure seamless journeys with features like single sign-on and personalized experiences, and collect cross-channel feedback.

6. Sustainability

The future is green! More than a third of consumers worldwide say they're willing to adjust their purchasing to be more environmentally friendly. 

Consumers may look for products or services that are more eco-friendly, ethical, fair trade, organic, vegan, etc. They will also look for transparent, responsible, and charitable brands.

Joining the sustainability trend, you can attract and retain eco-conscious customers, cut costs through resource efficiency, boost brand image, and help save the world. 

7. Re-commerce

Re-commerce is the buying and selling second-hand products, usually in the fashion industry. Re-commerce is outpacing retail growth, expanding 20x faster than overall retail and reaching $70 billion by 2030.

The appeal for customers lies in its affordability and sustainability, making it a noteworthy trend to watch.

8. Subscription commerce 

Subscription commerce, a business model where customers pay a recurring fee to access a product or service on a regular basis, is projected to generate over $38 billion by 2023. Some good examples of global ecommerce that use this model are Society Socks, Scribd, and Harry’s.

If your business could adapt to subscription commerce and you want to get in the game, a tip to retain customers is to focus on end-to-end experience.

9. UGC

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any material made and shared by a brand's customers, like reviews, testimonials, or endorsements. 

UGC can benefit businesses by boosting their name recognition, trust levels, engagement, and sales numbers. This is because people value what real consumers say more than what companies say about themselves. 

83% of shoppers would love a more authentic experience. A 3.2% boost in conversion rate was found for sites using UGC, and interactive UGC drove a 102.4% higher conversion.

While UGC seems outside a seller's control, there are ways to encourage more. This includes creating shareable experiences (think Instagrammable products), requesting content from users (something as simple as saying ‘If you like us, please share!), and running contests (the hashtag challenge works).

10. AI 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already boosting the online shopping world. Common use cases are AI-powered personalized online shopping, inventory optimization, 24/7 chatbot support, and fraud prevention. It helps businesses improve productivity and provide customers with faster service.

AI usage has become pervasive, so now is a great time to tune in. To use AI effectively, choose the right applications, test and evaluate them before launching, and monitor the results. 

Get a Multi-Currency Account For Your Ecommerce Business

For a global reach, you may want a multi-currency account for receiving customer payments and paying your suppliers. 

Statrys' virtual business accounts are available for companies registered in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the BVI.

Services that we offer:

  • A multi-currency business account
  • Competitive exchange rates
  • Link with marketplaces like Shopify and payment processors like Stripe and Paypal
  • Convenient international and local payments
  • Dedicated account managers
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What is global ecommerce?

Global ecommerce is the selling of goods or services over the Internet to international customers in non-native markets.

How to optimize the website for global ecommerce?


What is the best shipping practice for global ecommerce?


What are the best payment methods for global ecommerce?


What are some examples of successful global ecommerce?


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