CNP Expo: Where to Expand After BRIC

May 22, 2013

In the electronic world there is no such thing as a border. In practice, we all know that’s not true. Challenges and opportunities exist everywhere, according to panelists at a late afternoon session on Wednesday at the CNP Expo. Whether you’re interested in international expansion or not, everyone is aware of the BRIC countries. They’re developing and they’re populous, so the opportunity in Brazil, Russia, India and China is thought to be unlimited.

So where does an e-commerce merchant go after BRIC? The list is long, the panelists said, but some obvious plays are Mexico, South Korea, The U.K., Canada, Australia, Belgium and Poland. But, what steps should merchants be taking to decide what markets are right?

“Make sure you have people on the ground,” said Jordan Welch, chief marketing officer of i-parcel, which provides logistical technology for merchants selling abroad.

Even in receptive countries, however, there are issues, said Peter Caparso, president of North America for e-commerce processor Adyen. South Korea, for example, is a great company for e-commerce because 70 percent of the people use credit cards. No browsers other than Internet Express, however, can be used to make purchases there, due to a proprietary software issue.

Before deciding whether to do business in a country, make sure they’ve got adequate shipping and that the taxes and tariffs aren’t too high and that customs inspections won’t be too difficult.

“It’s not going to do any good to put the item in the cart and it’s going to cost as much to ship it,” Welch said.

Australia and Canada, where fraud is rare, also are good smaller markets for U.S. products, said Welch, calling those countries “low hanging fruit. They consume e-commerce like nobody’s business.”

Some challenges to international e-commerce expansion are cultural, Caparso said. Japan, for instance, is country with a high percentage of credit card holders, but the Japanese like to physically go out shopping, so they don’t buy as much online.