Expanding My eCommerce business overseas

United States United States
Kudos: 20
Joined: Aug 4, 2019
Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
4 Aug 2019
I am looking to expand my eCommerce business into foreign markets (specifically Greece, China and Germany). Is there a tool which can help me with the language barrier? What are some important things to keep in mind when expanding overseas?

Israel Israel
Kudos: 46
Joined: Nov 14, 2018
Re: Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
5 Aug 2019

Hi Gail,

Great question. First of all - good luck on expanding your business. Taking your eCommerce business international can be very scary, but simultaneously very rewarding. Here are the key things to keep in mind (for more in-depth tips about expanding overseas, check out my post “6 must-know eCommerce customer support hacks when expanding overseas”).

Taxation - Be sure to be up to date on local laws and taxation. Within EU zone, for example, there are tax thresholds - below certain tax thresholds you pay local VAT (or Value added tax) and above a certain threshold you pay your host country’s VAT (Britain's threshold for example is 70,000 GBP).

Logistics - In order to avoid shipment delays and customs issues, consider making changes to your supply chain and storage facility’s location. You can rent a local storage facility or potentially consider dropshipping, especially in China (where a large portion of dropshippers are located).

Language - As you mentioned in your question, language can be a major barrier in terms of scaling your eCommerce business internationally, especially in terms of customer support. One thing you can consider is using a CRM tool which has a built-in translation feature. This would help you automatically translate all messages into and from your language of choice.

Hope this helps.

Best of luck ,


[Last edited: 5 Aug 2019]
Leipzig Germany
Kudos: 35
Joined: Aug 6, 2019
Re: Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
6 Aug 2019
Hi Gail,

What an exciting time you are in for. Congratulations on your decision to go international.

Subivi make some excellent points. There are many good e-commerce logistics companies and Tax advice companies out there. I can make some specific recommendations if you are interested.

One thing you have to be careful of is over expansion. To tackle Greece China and Germany all at the same time will cause you numerous logistical problems. Pick the one you think will most lucrative and run with it. Once that locale has stabilised and you can take your constant attention away from it then look to expand further. Depending on what your products are Germany is a great place to start.

Different countries/market place have different rules and regulations as to what can and cannot be sold online. For example Amazon France is very strict on cosmetic/ nutritional supplement products and the ingredients it can contain. You can quickly find your self suspended if you do not comply to the rules which will leave your products gathering dust in an overseas warehouse and your sales channel, at best, temporarily closed down.

As you have mentioned there are many linguistic and cultural things to consider when expanding internationally. One the whole people want to be sold to in their own language despite how many people might tell you X place and Y place have very good English. Often people will go elsewhere and pay a few €/$ more in order to fully understand what they are buying.

Localisation is also important. The difference between Pants in the US and the UK is huge. The difference between a size 38 pant/trouser (Im British) in the US UK is totally different to a size 38 pair of trousers in Germany. Getting localisation wrong will end up in returns which can be hard to resell and are costly to process.

Linguistic 'tools' may seem like an easy and cost effective solution but when it comes to language, native speakers can spot a mistake a mile off. Many tools like the 'Amazon Built International Listings Tool' or 'WebInterpret' use machine translation which is mediocre at best. Again, people you are trying to sell to will generally go elsewhere to be sure of what they are buying.

It would be helpful to know exactly what products you sell and what ambitions you have for your cross boarder trade.

I work for an e-commerce service provider called InterCultural Elements. We help retailers and e-commerce sellers expand their sales internationally. We help sellers identify the right markets for their product, translate and localise their product information and can work with a number of different marketplaces in a number of different languages to launch your products and organise marketing and customer service.

If you are interested in a further conversation feel free to reach out to me at:


Best of luck


[Last edited: 6 Aug 2019]
Sam Stewart
Sales Representative
InterCultural Elements
United States United States
Kudos: 30
Joined: Aug 18, 2017
Re: Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
8 Aug 2019
Hi Gail,

Congratulation on your decision. We have to admit that this is a bold decision that may entail a lot of challenges, one of which you have already mentioned. When you decide to expand your business globally, you need to adopt a ‘glocal’ strategy so as to be able to relate to the uniqueness of different cultures and to address the specific needs of customers across diverse geographies.

Let us tell you one thing- no tool can generate the same impact that
personalized, real human interactions can generate. So to answer your first question, no tool can perfectly help you in overcoming language barriers. So does this mean that you will face a tough challenge in establishing a global customer base? Well, no. There are several reputed multilingual call centers that are designed to help large as well as small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs to confidently venture into international business landscapes.

Such companies provide world-class multilingual customer support through their teams of multilingual experts who have been assisting businesses across the globe in increasing the customer base by satisfying customer-queries in a professional manner. The call center executives are experienced enough to speak fluently in multiple languages including German, Chinese, and Greek. Given the fact that the success of any online businesses depend a lot on the level of customer support they provide. You want to work with real people rather than tools. Plenty of reliable call centers are available on a 24/7 basis which means that your customer support will always remain live, if you want it that way.They will be serving as your voice to address your customers’ queries even during vacations and weekends.

Now to answer your second question:

While expanding your business globally, you must have an in-depth idea of the demographics that you want to serve. You may consider hiring a CATI market research analyst for this purpose. Make sure that you do business with a reliable logistics partner and last but not the least, we would again focus on the importance of ensuring high level of customer support for which I have already suggested the best solution to you. All the best for your endeavors. Do keep us posted.

Wishing you success.
China China
Kudos: 15
Joined: Aug 8, 2019
Re: Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
8 Aug 2019

it's a nice decision.

besides having good products, it's also important to know well about the markets you will enter. if you need some advices about Chinese market, pls feel free to send your questions to carrieyang.shenzhen@gmail.com.
Hong Kong Hong Kong
Kudos: 23
Joined: Jul 23, 2019
Re: Expanding My eCommerce business overseas
21 Aug 2019

Dear Gail

Congrats on moving on your business to new markets, the first step is always the trickiest but Im sure you will succeed, as per China Market I could support your enquirers and share information with you about what documents are required and taxes. As things are changing with the trade war at the moment, it might be better to have people in china with the most up to date information.

I'm located in Hong Kong but drop me an email anytime and Ill get back to you.


All the Best!


Thompson & Holt