CNP Session Room: Engaging and Improving Cross-Border E-Commerce Over the last 30 years, with the advent of the Internet and globalization, there has been a remarkable expansion of the number of payment method and platforms, noted payments consultant Tom Dailey, moderator of a Day 1 panel at the CNP Expo in Orlando, Fla. Merchants looking to operate internationally now have to figure out details around foreign exchange, order fulfillment, and payment methods in a multitude of locations, all with unique obstacles and regulations. Cleveland Brown, CEO of Payscout, stressed that regardless of your product or locality, the place to start is always cultural empathy.

“You have to make sure you have a cultural sensitivity to the market in which you are trying to do business, and you can do that through education,” Brown said. “Research country by country. Is your product or service on that list? If so, you can look for ways to operationally and culturally align.”

Cristoph Tutsch, CEO of ONPEX, agreed: “Whenever you sell outside your own country, you need to understand the local cultural behavior. For example, in Indonesia, consumers use 21 payment methods, and each has its own rules and regulations.”

Tutsch recommends finding a partner to help you select which countries to expand to, which payment methods to use, what technology you will need, and what local laws you need to be aware of and comply with.

Mazen Soukieh of Aramex underscored the need for partnering with someone with experience in the local market. He gave the example of Aramex’s experience doing business in markets in Africa and Middle East, where 76 percent of consumers pay cash on delivery (COD). Of course, the risk with COD is returns. Aramex has had success going through commercial airlines to deliver physical products.

“Once the product arrives at the airport,” he explained, “we contact the customer and ensure they still want the delivery, giving details of the duty fees, taxes, and cost of the goods.”

That way, if the customer decides they don’t want to pay the full amount, the product can immediately be shipped back before going out for delivery.