Cross Border ECommerce

Cross border eCommerce simply refers to the online trading of goods and services between two entities from different countries. In other words, it is a channel for international trading. For instance, a retail brand in South Africa may see market potential in Nigeria, India, or Australia. The other way round, a retailer in Germany may see market opportunities in Kenya, Norway, or Russia. When such trading takes place, it qualifies as cross border eCommerce. Cross border eCommerce can be in the form B2C, B2B, or C2C.

Retailers can benefit from cross border eCommerce by the ways of access to new markets leading to higher business volume, pricing their offerings with greater autonomy depending on its competitive position and market demand, enhanced prospects for further expansion and business tie-ups, etc.

Africa holds immense market potential from the perspective of retailers from all over the world. Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are marked by steady population growth, increasing urbanization, improving GDPs, enhanced spending power, deeper penetration of technology, emergence of eCommerce platforms, and shift in customer behaviour towards online shopping. South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya are leading the eCommerce race in Africa.

Cross-Border E-commerce in Africa can also be a window for retail business owners to expand their business to other parts of Africa and the world where they sense market prospects.

Challenges for cross border eCommerce retailers

Cross-Border E-commerce in Africa is a relatively new term but in essence, it is the same as international trading done via the eCommerce route. But the challenges faced by cross border eCommerce companies or enterprises elevate to another level as businesses target another market in another country. This also makes cross border eCommerce solutions hard to come by.

Assessing a foreign market

Markets vary. Assessing a foreign market is a challenge for retailers. But they require answers to some important questions like - Will my product sell there? How big is the target market? What defines my potential customer base? Who are my competitors? How can I price my products competitively? What should be my logistics strategy? But while sitting in one country, it is difficult for retailers to study a foreign market, answer these questions, and gain market insights that could help them make informed decisions. All these cross border e-commerce strategies should be addressed while accessing the foreign market.

Assessing how to deliver

The channel, logistical, and Cross-Border Ecommerce Strategy come to play here. The problem here is not of distance but knowing the most efficient and effective route of channelling to get the intended value delivered to the end customers. Online marketplaces that provide access to international markets are a good option for retailers who want to cut a long story short. But for those who want to make it through their own channels, they may have some homework to do. The services of professional eCommerce Cross Border Consultancy firms could be of help here.

Costing and Profitability

You may see a huge market potential in a foreign country but if it is no use if you cannot serve the market profitably. Your inventory will attract additional costs in the form of taxes and duties, cargo/shipping charges, warehousing rentals, charges for third-party logistical services, etc. By the time your product reaches your customers’ doorsteps, it could lose the pricing competitiveness. And even if you still retain a margin, is it worth the effort? Answering these questions call for a detailed and comprehensive financial forecasting and analysis. eCommerce Cross Border Consultancy services can help you to figure out such challenges.

Digital visibility

Given a strong volume of online activities among the target market segment, without an effective digital marketing strategy, retailers lose a big opportunity for increased customer acquisition. But to ensure the online visibility of their products and brands for their target audience in a foreign country is another challenge for eCommerce retailers. They must be able to correctly comprehend the volume of activities in different digital platforms, the popularity of devices, the nature of engagement and behavioural trends, and the potential for conversion in the targeted market regions. Cross Border ECommerce Africa must put enough concentration on digitalisation.


If you are intending to sell your products in a foreign market, then you must make it for them. But it is not just the products that your customers will experience. They will also experience your eCommerce website and its user interface, the web and digital marketing content that you would publish/promote, the payment options you provide to them, customer support services, etc. You will have to ensure that the customers are getting the experience of dealing with your business as they need and expect and as you intended.

Logistics and infrastructure

A major concern for Cross Border ECommerce Africa is the lack of adequate logistical infrastructure in many African countries. The movement of goods through the eCommerce channel completely depends upon the logistical environment. Shortcomings in this functionality seriously dent the domestic prospects of growth and development of eCommerce and eCommerce order fulfilment.

How YRC (Your Retail Coach) can help: a glimpse

YRC offers a comprehensive range of consulting services in establishing and managing Cross Border ECommerce in Africa. From market research and business model development to digital marketing and SOP manuals, we work to deliver the best. Our team of cross border eCommerce consultants for Africa shall work closely with your business in this pursuit.

Our market research is aimed at gaining a 360 degree perspective of the market realities analyzing demand, competition, pricing, channels, etc. Our objective is to carve out meaningful information and actionable insights from the quantitative reports to help our clients with informed decision-making in planning and strategy formulation for the target market.

In business model development, we focus on identifying and bringing forth a strong and sustainable UVP (Unique Value Proposition) for your eCommerce enterprise for the target cross border market. This will be followed by the formulation of the strategic framework of the value chain and internal capabilities required to deliver the identified UVP from source to destination.

For better online visibility, eCommerce retailers need to ensure a better performance in two key areas – search engines and social media platforms. Our digital marketing expertise will be put to use to ensure that your business name, website, and/or content perform well both with search engines and across the relevant social media platforms.

The most important customer touchpoints for an eCommerce entity are its website and mobile application. Keeping in mind the industry standards, competition, and customers’ needs and expectations, our experts shall identify the critical requirements for your eCommerce website/application in terms of back-end IT, UX and user journey, language support, etc.

In SOP development, we assess and redefine business processes, write SOP manuals, and develop workflow management systems. The goals here are to establish routines, ensure consistency of standards, develop better growth systems, and eliminate loss of productivity.


We are a boutique retail consulting firm. To know more about our cross border eCommerce consultancy services for Africa or if you have any query, drop us a message and we will get back to you.

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