International E-Commerce: 6 Considerations for Selling into the US

26 June, 2020

E-Commerce

America, the land of opportunity. 3.8 million square miles of opportunity, to be exact. With a population of over 328 million people, 69% of them shopping online, it's unsurprising that selling into the country is the goal of many online businesses across the world.

The US has 282.1 million active internet users, providing plenty of opportunities for marketers to build and develop engaged audiences. By 2023, Statista estimates that Americans will spend almost a trillion dollars online. If you're keen to get your e-commerce business a piece of the American dream, here's what you need to do.

 

Localise everything

Building trust is important when venturing into any market. Americans will look for indicators that your website is legitimate, and your services are reliable. While US shoppers are internationally-minded and love browsing the internet for variety, you'll still need to adapt your content to suit the cultural norms of the country and ensure that you use American English throughout.

Check that your references and product names are the common variants used in the US; this won't only optimise your website, but it will help you when targeting certain keywords in your marketing campaigns.

US customers are comfortable using debit and credit cards as their preferred method of payment, so including the right portals and security features to process these types of payments is essential.

 

Returns

Without an efficient returns policy, your ecommerce business is likely to lose a lot of appeal for US customers.

The buyer is accepting the risk of purchasing from a foreign vendor, waiting for the package to arrive and potentially receive something that doesn't meet their expectations, is faulty, or damaged. To give reassurance to your US patrons, you need an effective, low-cost returns process.

This can be achieved by taking advantage of a third-party return handling service that will supply the necessary paperwork to the customer and arrange postage or collection. Your returns handling associate will then process the item and follow the agreed protocol for refunding the customer or replacing the goods.

 

Taxes and paperwork

This is where things may get a little tricky. With 50 states, each one having its own sales tax nexus, you'll have to comply with the tax laws of each state you have a presence in. Physical and virtual stores are subject to state sales tax laws, but thresholds apply, so you may have to speak specialist advice to ensure that you're trading legally.

You can check in with the U.S. Small Business Administration to check that you have all the necessary licenses and permits.

 

Customs charges

Customs charges can be a huge barrier to entry into the US market. Depending on the nature and size of the product you ship, customers may incur significant additional costs.

To sidestep this, you can import your items in bulk and have them stored and distributed by a third-party logistics partner. This alleviates the cost of shipping items individually and makes for faster fulfilment.

 

Use a third-party logistics partner

Cracking into the US market can be hugely rewarding and profitable, but it's by no means a simple journey. You'll need deep insights into the markets, conventions and best-practices, as well as have the necessary budget to penetrate the market effectively.

Using a third party logistics partner like Asendia means your supply chain is handled by experts who provide a stable base for your business in the US through our fulfilment centres. We'll not only get your goods from A to B, but we'll also provide the most cost-effective and reliable shipping methods. Our service includes packaging, labelling, returns handling, inventory management and customer service.

 

Without a physical presence in the US – which can be far more expensive than launching into the market through a logistics partner – you need expert representatives who will ensure your brand is able to scale and grow in the new environment.

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