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Cross-border e-commerce: resources for exporting to the United States of America

Chapter 4: E-commerce fundamentals - planning your brand's cross-border journey

Chapter 4 provides e-commerce planning considerations and cross-border best practices. Use these insights to evaluate the opportunity and determine the customer experience you will strive to create. The chapter begins with foundational financial models -- for novice and more experienced e-commerce professionals -- followed by strategy/positioning and cross-border operations (checkout and payment types, fulfillment and customer care).

Foundational e-commerce financial models

The following illustrations provide an e-commerce financial equation, and the tasks and responsibilities required to bring the customer experience to life. Being able to efficiently execute on all steps in this process will often determine bottom line profitability. If you are already proficient in e-commerce, the steps will be familiar. If you are in the early stages of e-commerce, understanding the financial levers will be critical to determining your core strategies and channels to deploy. All of the elements in the equation should be metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs), to be tracked and measured regularly to manage the overall health of the business and identify areas for improvement. Developing the discipline to plan, execute, and measure according to these KPIs is critical to managing the business - on annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily bases.

Do-it-yourself or do-it-for-me? Managing an e-commerce business to your strengths

Getting the basics right: end-to-end view of an e-commerce business

Front end

Back-end

Strategy and positioning: why does your brand matter?

For companies of all sizes, standing out in a crowded US consumer market is a must. Being unique and differentiated in the eyes of your target consumer is necessary to compete against incumbents. Whether your differentiating factors are rational or emotional benefits, there needs to be compelling reasons why a consumer would choose your brand and products over many other options they have, especially since Canadian brands will likely be new to US consumers.

Focus first on optimizing cross-border operations

For many years, companies early in their cross-border e-commerce journey have prioritized "getting their operations right" before they focus on customer facing programs and driving demand and order volume. In this respect, cross-border e-commerce is like many other elements of digital transformation roadmaps -- ensure that you can "deliver on your customer promise" from an operational standpoint, before adding increased complexity to marketing, promotion or localizing the site experience.

Delivery/fulfillment are even more important in cross-border e-commerce

The delivery of any cross-border e-commerce order is critical to the overall customer experience. Therefore, decisions you make on how to fulfill orders to the US should be well thought through.

Customer care and customer service: cross-border considerations

This guide has attempted to provide a clear understanding of the complexity of selling across borders into the US market. For the end consumer, a cross-border e-commerce transaction can be similarly filled with uncertainty. Hence the importance of your customer service policies and operations -- to help guide the shopper through key steps in their journey. US shoppers, likely due to the plethora of choices domestically, are not as experienced with cross border e-commerce purchasing. Only 34% of US e-commerce shoppers have completed a cross-border transaction, so don't assume they understand or are comfortable with the process.

Chapter 4 checklists

Strategy and financial planning

Cross-border e-commerce operations

If you are interested in learning more, please contact exportecommerce-commerceelectroniqueexport@international.gc.ca for a particular chapter or the full guide.

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