Help maximise your international trade opportunities

It’s never been easier to sell your products overseas using platforms such as Amazon, Shopify or PayPal. But the rules and regulations get increasingly complicated. Don’t worry, help is at hand

In this third PayPal Check-In Festival webinar it’s all about maximising your international trade opportunities.

Our experts explain how it’s never been easier to set up an ecommerce business, yet the rules and regulations around selling overseas get increasingly onerous.

But don’t worry, help is at hand.

Watch it on-demand now to discover:

  • Why it’s never been easier to set up an ecommerce business
  • How using international marketplaces such as Amazon allows you to test the market
  • Why you’re not alone and how using partners, whether it’s for website building, shipping, payments or security take the pain out of international trade
  • 3 tips to soothe the pain points of Brexit
  • 7 ways to build trust of customers overseas

International trade and you

Our international trade session featured three panellists and was chaired by SmallBusiness editor Tim Adler

  • James Gurd, ecommerce re-platforming and strategy consultant at Digital Juggler whose clients include Samsung, House of Fraser and Victoria Beckham
  • Rachael Twumasi-Corson, CEO Afrocenchix
  • Ben Ramsden, head of SMEs PayPal UK

We’ve summarised the key takeaways below.

Pandemic and the ecommerce boom

Covid-19 saw two years’ worth of ecommerce sales within three months, according to consultancy McKinsey & Company.

Forty per cent of businesses told PayPal that because of the boom in digital selling they are planning to expand to new markets, despite the pandemic.

Ramsden says: “Consumers are adapting to digital services such as shopping online. Small businesses are taking advantage of digital tools. We’ve seen an acceleration of these trends and see the boom in ecommerce continuing.”

Rise of the marketplacesOnline marketplaces such as Amazon mean you can test the water with your product before committing to building your own website.

And then there’s low-cost website builders such as Shopify, Wix and Big Commerce – all of which integrate with PayPal as a payment gateway.

The good news is that small business owners need fewer tech skills than ever to start selling. Before you needed to have some coding and development knowledge to get up and running. Now you can plug into these marketplaces cheaply and easy.

Even better, shopping and logistics systems can talk to each other using APIs.

Says Ramsden: “It’s about making payments globally more accessible, which makes it easier for businesses having access to a bigger market.”

PayPal also integrates with shipping carriers to facilitate delivery to foreign customers.

And remember, it’s not just a question of selling on Amazon or building your own website on Shopify. Each territory has its go-to online marketplace. In China the dominant marketplace is Alibaba, while in Thailand it’s Shopee.

Compliance and regulation

Although it’s never been easier to go to market, at the same time it’s never been more complicated.

Compliance regulations when it comes to international trade keep changing, whether it’s GDPR rules over data here in the UK or the Americans with Disabilities Act in the USA.

Soothing the pain points of Brexit

The biggest shakeup of rules and regulations when it comes to international trade here in the UK has of course been Brexit.

Afrocenchix, which exports afro hair products to 53 countries worldwide, has lost half of its sales to Europe since Brexit.

Twumasi-Corson says: “Brexit has made it much more difficult to export goods with customs and paperwork. The biggest challenges have been organisational. The EU was an exciting market for us but it’s now been pushed down in our five-to-ten year business plan.

How to overcome Brexit pain points

  • Unless you’re a tax and duty specialist work with a carrier that provides a Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) service
  • Software such as Avalara can automate paying duty and customs, as well as calculate what you need to pay here
  • Think about having product packaging in French or German – official EU languages now that Britain has left the EU.

What if I’m selling to Europe for the first time?

If you’re selling into the EU for the first time, use a marketplace such as Amazon and its Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service. Yes, you still have to do the paperwork and yes, you will make less money but it’s the simplest way to put your toe in the water. That way, you can test the market.

How to build trust in your brand overseas

A recent PayPal survey of 14,000 online shoppers discovered that their biggest concern was staying secure while shopping online.

  • Have very clear terms and conditions on your website including your returns policy and buyer protection
  • Make sure you’re compliant with all local regulations
  • Ensure your website has an SSL certificate
  • Work with a payment gateway that customers recognise, such as PayPal
  • Try and gain local knowledge on the ground. Understand what customers are looking for when shopping online, which varies from country to country
  • How people like to contact you differs from country to country. US customers, for example, prefer toll-free phone numbers, while other countries prefer live chat
  • People appreciate you speaking their language. Use Google Translate when speaking to overseas customers

Perhaps the key takeaway is that every pain point from shipping to cybersecurity, fulfilment and payment methods can all be outsourced.

Find partners such as website builders, goods carriers, e-commerce sites and payment systems to make international trade as easy as possible.

Understand the markets you want to sell to and how those customers like to pay.

Remember, you are not alone!

For advice on facing your financial wellness head on and building resilience into your business, head to Build Business Resilience – Tips &Tools at PayPal UK

More PayPal Check-In Festival

The PayPal Check-In Festival is a series of practical webinars aimed at supporting small business owners.

Each session shares stories, expertise and knowledge from peers and industry experts around a particular pain point for business owners

How to control your small business cashflowOur experts cover everything from common cash flow problems to your different financing options

How to help grow your small business sales on and offlineWe look at one of the biggest opportunities for small businesses – selling on and offline

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Bertha Mcglynn

Lucy is the former editor of and has been writing and working in the small business and entrepreneur space for over 12 years. She’s now Head of Content at Stubben Edge, where she writes...