Online retail transactions that take place across borders are definitely on the rise, with China and India fingered as catalysts in this trend. However, cross-border e-Commerce remains complicated, and there are challenges that await e-merchants who wish to step into the global market.

According to Stefany Zaroban, director of research at Internet Retailer, Chinese consumers and companies purchased US$31.96 billion worth of overseas products online in 2015, up 60% from 2014, while India will see a 78% jump in its online cross-border spending in 2016 to US$14.61 billion, from a previous estimated US$8.21 billion.

Zaroban also notes that cross-border e-Commerce is complicated, and comes with its own set of challenges to surmount. Challenges like navigating customs fees, deliveries in each market, as well as cultural and language differences.

However, Zaroban also quotes Internet Retailer’s Global 1000 report, which has shown that retailers are more likely to tackle those obstacles if cross-border web selling presents a clear opportunity.

Zaroban then went on to point out that, while 72% of top US e-tailers ship to foreign markets, only 28% of the 192 companies from China (that made it into the portal’s Global 1000) took orders and shipped to online shoppers in foreign markets.

The Southeast Asian market, on the other hand, has the potential to grow in worth to as much as US$200 million within the next decade, with the first-hand e-commerce market in the region projected to hit US$88 billion in worth within the same time frame.

This represents a unique opportunity for e-tailers in the region to test the waters, as well as cut their teeth. With the diversity in culture and systems available in Southeast Asia, it can be said to be THE proving ground.

However, the challenges as stated above still apply, and this in turn may very well turn off e-tailers who may claim that this is too difficult, or may incur too much in terms of investment.

The Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council stands ready to help local e-tailers with regards to information as well as contacts, especially with its Southeast Asia E-Commerce Conference theme this year.

Titled “Unleash the Power of Cross-border E-Commerce”, the conference aims to bring together like-minded individuals to discourse the barriers and challenges to a thriving cross-border trade in the region, and hopes to educate local merchants by telling them that cross-border trade is no longer game for only large companies, but that SMEs can partake of that particular pie as well.

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