e-Commerce: your way into new overseas markets


What is cross-border e-Commerce?

Are you looking for new markets for your business? Cross-border e-Commerce is the general term for purchases made online from businesses in other countries or jurisdictions. It involves either buying via websites in other countries or through third-party "marketplaces" (such as China's JD.com and India's Flipcart.com) that host international merchants.

Within just a few years e-Commerce has changed the face of international trade in certain sectors – fashion, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and consumer electronics being notable examples.

e-Commerce represents an opportunity both for consumers and for businesses:

  • Consumers get access to a world of goods and services, including some that may have previously been unavailable or prohibitively expensive in their location. 
  • Businesses can use e-Commerce to address new overseas markets that had previously been too expensive or difficult.

Many British SMEs have found that e-Commerce has opened up new markets for them – read one success story here.

Reaching fast-growing markets

Global e-Commerce accounted for  a staggering USD1.67 trillion of retail sales in 2015 [1].

The percentage of retail that takes place online varies widely from country to country – 13.5% in China compared to 2.5% in Italy, for example [2].  Similarly wide variations can be found between different demographics, or geographically across large, diverse markets such as China and India.  However, the trend everywhere is that online sales are growing year on year, and increasing as a percentage of total retail.  e-Commerce is a rapidly growing market.

The fact that e-Commerce penetration varies so widely across the world is an opportunity too. With an expected 33 percent of the global market in 2015 and over 37 percent in 2018, the Asia Pacific region is becoming the leader of the e-commerce industryIn 2016, India is recording 6 million new internet users every month, with e-Commerce sales growing by 51% per year in value terms [3]. And in China more than half of online retail sales are made by consumers in "3rd and 4th tier cities", where incomes are rising fastest, and e-Commerce use is growing fastest too [4].

[2] http://www.retailresearch.org/onlineretailing.php, 2015 figures.  McKinsey & Co How Savvy, Social Shoppers are Transforming e-Commerce, 2016, p2

[4] McKinsey & Co How Savvy, Social Shoppers are Transforming e-Commerce, 2016, p4

More on how you can access e-Commerce opportunities