How successful businesses are expanding digital commerce beyond borders

Ten years ago, shopping on the Champs-Élysées in Paris was a pipedream that required an expensive plane ticket for most consumers. Today, as businesses expand their digital commerce presence, it can be accomplished with a single internet search from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

eCommerce has created a borderless global economy. More than a third of global shoppers, and a quarter of U.S. shoppers, are making online purchases on non-domestic sites.1 These numbers are expected to increase each year, requiring merchants to meet the expectations of an increasingly diverse customer base.

Bank of America Merchant Services has helped clients successfully expand their digital commerce beyond borders by enhancing their eCommerce capabilities.

Successful expansions had four elements in common:

Accept alternate payment methods

Consumers want to make purchases with payment methods that are familiar to them. Businesses that have successfully established a global digital presence accept payment options that are trusted and common in local markets.

For example, most consumers in the Netherlands pay with iDEAL, an alternative payment method (APM) that processes more than 56 percent of all payments made locally.2 If a business wants to operate or provide payment services in that region, accepting iDEAL is as crucial as accepting Visa in the U.S.

Globally, APMs account for more than half of online retail payments, surpassing the share of eCommerce sales generated by credit cards.3 In the coming years, payments with credit and debit cards are expected to decrease while APMs will continue to rise.

Hundreds of APMs are available today, depending on where the business wants to sell. Consider a solution that simplifies acceptance and streamlines backend processing.

“A global merchant using multiple platforms not only has to build different processes around each tool, but also has to integrate fraud and APM support add-ons that are specific to each region where business is conducted,” says Kevin Lotfi, senior vice president of global solutions at Bank of America Merchant Services.

“Using a single integrated eCommerce solution eliminates the friction caused by multiple platforms,” Lotfi adds. “Merchants strategizing an international digital expansion should consider a solution that offers the most relevant payment types in each market the merchant does business in via one API, one settlement contract and one financial statement.”

A solution equipped with consolidated reporting can help businesses analyze payment trends by payment type and location. Understanding consumer payment preferences enables businesses to offer the most relevant payment types by region, which in turn satisfies the customer and helps establish brand loyalty.

“Merchants who implement dynamic pricing benefit
from an additional revenue stream and detailed reporting that
enhances their view into international purchase behavior.”

Enable multi-currency processing

Consumers not only want to pay with their preferred payment method — they also like to pay in their native currency.

Multi-currency processing allows international consumers to pay online in their own currency at checkout. This provides the consumer with an in-country shopping experience while the business sets prices on goods and services based on exchange rates, geographic location and demand.

“Merchants who implement dynamic pricing benefit from an additional revenue stream and detailed reporting that enhances their view into international purchase behavior and trends,” says Lotfi. “They’re protected from currency risks since pricing that appears on the website is dynamically converted from their base currency to the customer’s selected currency based on published exchange rates.”

Funding is received in the business’ preferred currency at a set exchange rate within the same time frame as standard domestic funding.

Leverage consolidated reporting

The benefits of consolidated reporting within a global payment solution extend beyond analyzing risk and payment trends. Solutions that provide reporting and customer insights from gateway to settlement offer an all-encompassing view of the purchase process, which helps businesses make more informed decisions.

Data insight solutions are particularly helpful for larger merchants because they make sense of large amounts of transactional and financial data. Data can be drilled down to specific locations, sorted, downloaded and filtered by currency. Transactional data can also be compared across markets for businesses operating in multiple regions. Real-time access to such data, including funding, disputes and fees, can further drive business decisions.

Understand international regulations

Any company looking to expand internationally needs to do its due diligence before expanding into the intended market. Here are key actions to consider before going global:

  • Protect Intellectual Property (IP). Laws protecting patents, trademarks, copyrights and other IP rights vary from country to country. Speak to an attorney about how to protect your IP before expanding.
  • Follow international taxation laws. Companies must consider a variety of factors including taxable statuses, taxable supply, place of supply, exemptions, liability, and value added tax (VAT), where applicable.4
  • Work with a global payments and eCommerce provider that has an established international presence, possesses extensive knowledge of foreign regulations, and can help develop a profitable expansion strategy.

Navigating international markets is a complex mission but as eCommerce virtually eliminates borders between businesses and consumers, expanding digital commerce is a requirement for business growth.

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