How to Start Selling Ecommerce Products Overseas: Step-by-Step

  • Written by Clare Dyckhoff
How to Start Selling Ecommerce Products Overseas: Step-by-Step

With the internet opening up ways to connect with more people, places, and products than ever, it is no surprise that businesses looking to expand are thinking about global ecommerce. 

With research from estimating global ecommerce sales will reach $6.5trillion in 2023, the money pie continues to get bigger, with multiple businesses looking for the best way of getting a slice. 

Selling ecommerce products overseas can be a lucrative venture, but it requires careful planning and execution. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Table of Contents

  • Start with market research

  • Laws, taxes and legal compliance

  • Adapt your product

  • Develop a targeted marketing strategy

  • Payment and currency

  • Shipping internationally

  • Customer support

  • Analysis and adaptation 

Start with Market Research

Before looking into any tax or legal compliance, the first step to selling ecommerce products overseas is identifying your target markets.

It may be tempting to throw the net wide and try and catch as many opportunities in as many countries as possible, however the best course of action is to choose 1 to 2 markets and focus on them.

It is far better to focus on a couple and give your efforts the best chance than to try and do too many at once.

When considering your target markets, think about cultural differences, the purchasing behavior of your potential customers, and assess the market demand, market share, and current competitors in the space. 

Look at what the local competitors are doing, what they offer, and what you could offer either differently or better.

If you are already selling products online, you might have customers from other markets without strategically focusing on them. This is great news and could point you in the direction of one of your first ideal markets. 

But do not worry if you have only got local customers at this stage. This is the time for expansion and growth plans, so take a look at the top 2 to 3 markets you would like to grow into, as that too is a good place to start.


  • Pricing - do you need to inflate the costs to cover new costs

  • Emerging trends - what is proving popular

  • Who are your competitors - what can you provide that is better or different? 

  • Cost of acquiring customers - is it worth it? 

  • Market demand - is this the right market to be entering? 

Laws, taxes, and legal compliance 

Once you have your key markets in mind, before thinking about site optimisation and marketing strategies, it is best to look into the legality and compliance side before taking any further steps.

The import and export restrictions for one market might be off-putting compared to another that feels more feasible in the timeframe you are working to. 

Firstly, ensure that your website complies with the data protection laws involved in each target market. What could this include?

Similarly to handling customer protection for your local customers, it could be ensuring all payment journeys and processes are secure for the customer, minimizing risk of payment details being captured by non-approved bodies, and encryption to protect their information too. 

Getting to grips with tax is challenging when starting out in any market, but when it comes to international markets, you might also have language barriers and acronyms you have never heard of to factor in.

By doing your due diligence to understand how to comply with local tax regulations before launching, it can save you a great deal of problems down the line should you dive in head first before exploring.

As this is not a one-size-fits-all approach to markets in general, it is best to consult a tax professional to ensure your business is compliant. 


  • Restricted items and prohibited products 

  • Import and export restrictions

  • Custom duties 

  • Tax implications 

  • Compliance requirements 

  • VAT handling in new markets (e.g. UK and Europe often list tax included) 

Adapt your product

Customers in one country can use, appreciate, and find the experience of a product different, let alone customers in new markets where there are many different factors.

Adapting your product to meet new needs from any customer insights you gather in the market research can help carve your way into new markets when you are ready to.

Aside from local preferences, there might be regulatory standards your items need to meet. Evaluating whether your products need any adaptation is key at this stage, especially if you have some insights to help guide you than finding the same thing out further down the line.

While it might be expansive and require a great deal of logistics, it is worth looking into offering a diverse range of products to different markets, where testing and learning using analysis and forecasting tools can help pave the way to growth and success. 

Develop a targeted marketing strategy

Once you have nailed the tax considerations and legal compliance on an ongoing basis, it is time to think about your marketing strategy.

Consider digital channels such as paid advertising, social media, and any other relevant channels that can help you reach your global audience.

For example, some European cities might be perfect for more OOH (out of home) advertising. Other markets and demographics might find information and products via YouTube search or TikTok. 

Creating branded assets too for new channels are key (e.g. if you have an EU specific social marketing campaign running, the messaging and creative will differ than what might have landed in the U.S.). Working with native writers can help with this step. 

As with any good marketing campaign, let it run for sufficient time and take the learnings. Call out the successes and note down the areas that could have performed better. New markets will call for new marketing strategies and this is the time to learn and develop.

As your brand will be expanding, it will be essential to make sure that it translates into new markets. Not only just in the copy written, the tone of voice, images, but the language itself.

A crucial step is translating the website content into the language of your target markets. It might seem obvious and it might sound simple, but when you factor in moving and changing products, ensuring sufficient copy is written across the site, all the language is correct for emerging products and pages vs existing - there is a lot to think about.

The website is your digital storefront so it is key to adapt the design to suit cultural expectations and preferences.

Aside from tailoring the website to new markets and countries, a global expectation of all customers is that the website is user-friendly and accessible. Making sure images are not too large, pages do not take too long to load, text is legible and in appropriate size, fonts, and colors are all checklist items for a smooth experience on site. 

And when it comes to being found organically in search engines? Putting time and effort into optimizing your web pages for the new audiences opens up more chances of you appearing for relevant customer searches, at the time they happen. 

Payment and Currency

Marketing efforts aside, you could have the most optimized, smooth-sailing website, but if the payment process is hellish, you will be sure to find some pretty unhappy, non-returning customers.

The last thing you need after all the time, effort, and money invested into global ecommerce is abandoned carts. 

Now we are not quite talking crypto (yet) but It is crucial to set up a secure and reliable payment system that supports international transactions. It is also worth thinking about accepting multiple currencies to make the purchasing process even simpler for customers.

Solutions like Shopify exist to help smoothen out that process - you can check out more information on Shopify Plus vs Shopify here. 

Shipping Internationally

When it comes to shipping internationally there is more to pay for than just sending out packages. From workforce and staff to warehouse management, there are a few things to look into.

If you are selling via a marketplace, there are pros to reaching new global audiences via established places vs finding your own.

But with some of the pros, it is good to note that the taxes and compliance, shipping and order-to-delivery process are well established, which can leave you to focus on other areas of business.

However, there too are cons with this approach, such as lower profit margins and the potential number of returns and refunds issues vs going it alone. 

If you are selling via your own website and running the show yourself, you might choose to integrate with established carriers such as USPS.

There will be benefits to sending packages with USPS, sending packages internationally with DHL, as well as shipping internationally with USPS so weighing up the various options can help you find the right solution to your business need - particularly if you are looking on partnering with a company you know and trust can deliver on what they say they can. 

Or, you might want to ease the shipping process with the aid of automated shipping software, which can help grant access to better shipping label deals, and if you use Veeqo you can even earn up to 5% back in Veeqo Credits.

Integrating with Veeqo can also give you access to low shipping rates as well as rate shopping, so it can help you decide on choosing between services like flat rate shipping and USPS priority mail

If you are looking for more information on costs and funding, check out our guide on how to fund your ecommerce business as you scale.

Customer Support

As with optimizing your website for new customers, having adequate customer support can be the difference between a returning customer and a dissatisfied one.

Provide multilingual customer support for any situations where the customer has inquiries or issues with the service.

Having a dedicated FAQ (frequently asked question) section on site can also help field some recurring questions (e.g. delivery and shipping times, what happens if there are any delays).

By clearly communicating these key areas up front, in the languages of the markets you are establishing in, it can help ease the pressure on customer support teams as well as providing customers with the support they need, when they need it.  

Further reading: UPS vs USPS vs FedEx 

Analysis and adaptation 

When you are emerging in new markets it is crucial to regularly analyze:

  • Sales performance

  • Customer feedback

  • Market trends 

Nothing is a given and customers can be unpredictable at times, as can international market landscapes.

Being flexible and open to adapting strategies based on the evolving landscape you see can help you swim rather than sink. And as all good things do not just happen overnight, successfully growing into new markets and selling products overseas takes work and time. 

Whilst there are many things out of our control, particularly as a business owner, keeping aware of changes in the global market, testing, learning and evolving strategies based on customer insights and feedback will only help you continue your progress. 

Sign-up to Veeqo today to get free access to our powerful suite of multichannel inventory and shipping software, including discounted rates for USPS and DHL international shipping services.

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