In today’s global business environment, companies increasingly choose to expand into foreign e-commerce markets. Conducting cross-border activities is associated with many challenges. They are well known for Olga Pijanowska – Cross-Border & Sales Manager at MakesYouLocal, a company that advises e-commerce entities going abroad at every stage – from initial strategic decisions to day-to-day business operations. In the interview, she answers critical questions about:

  • Selection of foreign markets;
  • Expansion strategy;
  • Building a relationship with a foreign client;


Which foreign markets are attractive for developing cross-border sales today? Given the importance of analyzing the sales potential, is it even worth suggesting them?


Olga Pijanowska, MYL: This question has no clear answer. The choice of a particular market depends on many factors, such as the type of product, industry, competition, consumer trends, experience, investment or opportunities.

However, one of the natural directions for Polish e-commerce companies is the European Union (EU) markets. Thanks to EU membership, selling to EU countries becomes relatively easy, mainly due to the free movement of goods, the absence of customs duties, and the single currency. Popular among Polish companies are countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and recently also Bulgaria and Greece.

The United States is another area with great potential. It is one of the largest e-commerce markets in the world. However, expanding into the US market requires understanding local preferences and regulations.

Asia-Pacific countries such as China, India, Japan, and Australia offer enormous potential but are also demanding due to cultural and linguistic differences.

Latin America is another area with growing potential. The availability of new products and brands from Europe attracts consumers there.

There are as many possibilities as there are countries, but everyone should approach it individually. Before expanding into new markets, it is crucial to explore your opportunities. It is worthwhile to carefully analyze the budget, adapting it to the specifics of the chosen country. Analyze costs and do not invest spontaneously. Remember that many start-up fees are one-time, and while such a stacking may seem complicated, proper preparation will help avoid frustration and ensure long-term profit.


What factors should be considered when taking the first steps in cross-border sales in 2024?


Olga Pijanowska, MYL: If you have already succeeded in e-commerce in your local market, the natural next step would be to consider expanding your business internationally. The potential of Germany, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia is enormous, but with millions of new customers, new challenges are also emerging. To properly prepare for selling in new markets, there are a few key issues to consider beforehand:

  • Choosing the right market: Choosing the right market from the outset is crucial. Mistakes are costly, mainly when strategic decisions are based more on intuition than fact. Consider what products or services you plan to offer, identify key competitors, and develop a strategy to reach customers.
  • Data Analysis: Use up-to-date data to learn patterns. The social media channels and analytics offered by Google Analytics can be significant indicators of your next international steps. Use them as a reference point for further research.
  • Do your homework before expanding: Compare pre-selected markets as well as examine local competitors and potential customers. Identify areas where you have the most significant opportunities compared to your local competitors to see if launching a store in a new market will be profitable for you.
  • Flexibility and learning from experience: Be ready to change and learn. The biggest mistake when expanding the international market is investing too much initially before it’s confirmed that the target consumers are responding to your brand. Test, learn and adapt your strategies to local conditions.
  • Compliance with local regulations: Pay attention to local rules and regulations. International business requires understanding and complying with local regulations, not just VAT and customs. Find support to understand these recipes at the very beginning. This will allow you to avoid problems in the future.
  • Localization for the customer: You need to look local for the customer. International consumers should not suspect that you are operating from another part of the world when visiting your online store. Make sure your services are available in their language. On average, 75% of consumers prefer to shop in their language, and about 60% avoid online stores only in English.
  • Differences in payment preferences: Understanding the differences in payment preferences of international customers is critical. Make sure you offer different payment options to meet the expectations of different markets.
  • Customize marketing channels: Don’t assume the same marketing channels will be equally effective everywhere. Research the marketing costs where you plan to operate and adjust your strategies to reach online leads effectively.


How to build the trust with a foreign client in 2024?


Olga Pijanowska, MYL: Building customer trust nowadays requires the application of advanced strategies adapted to the dynamic changes in business. Pay attention to:

  • Data Security:

Assure your customers that their information is safe and protected by applicable laws.

  • Transparency:

Be transparent in every business area, especially regarding pricing, fees, delivery processes, and returns policy. Publish this information on the website and in marketing materials.

  • Appropriate content and communication:

Translate content into different languages and adapt communication to local cultures and customs. Introduce content personalization to increase customer engagement.

  • Trusted certificates and reviews:

Look for reputable quality and safety certificates to build trust in your brand. Publish positive customer reviews to increase the company’s credibility.

  • Transparent legal information:

Provide clear and understandable legal information, including terms and conditions and privacy policies. The customer should quickly find the information required regarding cooperation.

  • Customer service at the highest level:

Respond to inquiries and complaints in real-time to provide excellent customer service. Use modern tools like chatbots or email response automation to manage customer service.


I want to focus on local customer service here because this is an integral part of our day-to-day business at MakesYouLocal. We always recommend that customer service in the local language is available from the very beginning of the store. How often have you called the helpline and been helped by a consultant in English? Or German? When the question about a product or delivery is relatively simple, more people can rise to the heights of language skills and get help. But what about questions about specialized parameters or complaints? To avoid inconvenience and gain the trust of buyers, it is best to provide service in their native language, mainly when a native speaker uses it. In addition, multi-channel operation has become a new standard – by phone, email, live chat and social media.

Remember! No matter what marketing activities you run or how well-translated your website is, what matters most is the customer service you provide to buyers! Good customer service supports sales and is the voice of the customer.

Olga Pijanowska is a Cross-Border & Sales Manager at MakesYouLocal. She graduated from the University of Economics in Wroclaw and the University of La Coruña in Spain, where she lived for nine years, gaining experience in marketing and tourism. After returning to Poland, she joined the e-commerce industry, helping Polish companies to expand into foreign markets. She advises clients on expansion directions, helps implement and develop a cross-border strategy, guides them throughout the localization process and provides local customer service.

Read more: Global e-commerce trends 2024. Part two

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