Businesses should embrace cross-border e-commerce, according to DHL

By professo

Businesses in Africa should adopt cross-border e-commerce, says Steve Burd, Vice President of Sales for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to a 2017 DHL report, it is anticipated that cross-border retail volumes will grew at an average annual rate of 25% between 2015 and 2020.

This will see the volumes’ value rise from US$300bn to $900bn, growing twice as fast as domestic e-commerce.

Mr Burd highlights five daunting aspects of international trading for domestic e-commerce customers.

The first being the cost of express shipping, which Burd argues has no risk when offering it as a delivery option.

“Customers want choice, not only in their product selection, but also when and how they receive it. In our experience, customers are willing to pay a fair price for a faster, more efficient service.”

Burd also addresses the issue of return rates: “We’ve found that the return rates are actually much lower on international shipping.”

“Businesses could always do it on a trial basis and measure the benefits over losses and adjust their strategies accordingly,” he adds.


Basket values also appears to be a common concern with domestic e-commerce customers, however Burd claims that his firm notices basket values often rise when express shipping is introduced – as a means to justify the cost of delivery.

The DHL Vice President also argues that with the cost of shipping influencing shoppers, international customers often spend more than local ones.

“So even if international traffic to your website is small, it can be worth a lot for limited effort.”

“There are free online tools available which will give you an indication of your international traffic on your website – this will provide an idea of which countries to focus your efforts on.”

“There is no risk in opening doors to the international market – only the risk of getting left behind.”

Burd’s final point suggests that a firm’s choice of delivery partner can influence ease with procedures and processes.

“If your paperwork has been done correctly, there shouldn’t be any customs delays or worries.”

“Collaborating with an experienced partner that has extensive knowledge and know-how of customs procedures on the African continent will assist the business’ e-commerce offering to evolve.” 


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