Think You Don’t Have an International E-commerce Business? Think Again.

Cross-border shopping is the fastest-growing piece of the B2C e-commerce market, according to Accenture. This means that your online business is already international, whether or not you planned to sell globally.

Think You Don’t Have an International E-commerce Business? Think Again.

To claim your biggest slice of the giant global market — and manage the opportunities and risks that go with it — review the following three pieces of advice. They will help you put a payments infrastructure in place to drive conversions, control costs and minimize risk from international transactions. 

1. Act Like a Local

Online businesses need to turn browsers into buyers to succeed. In international markets, localizing the sales and payment process can help. Consider:

  • Speaking to customers in their own language on the checkout and payment pages. If you’re just starting to actively market your business abroad, target other English-speaking countries before branching out to markets that require translation.
  • Pricing goods or services in a country’s local currency. Spare your customers the trouble of calculating exchange rates and keep them moving right along to complete their purchases. 
  • Allowing customers to use local payment methods. While most U.S. shoppers reach for their credit cards, many consumers elsewhere prefer to pay in other ways, such as native direct debit payments.

2. Seek Help with Swipe Fees

It’s important to understand interchange rates — also known as swipe fees — which you incur every time you accept a credit or debit card for payment. Remember to:

  • Ask your merchant services provider to direct you to the international interchange rates that most card brands now publish, and ask them for guidance on obtaining the lowest rates. 
  • Find out how you may be able to qualify for lower rates. For example, if you have a high average ticket, your merchant services provider may advise you on how to submit more detailed transaction data – like level 2 or 3 data – to ensure you receive a reduced large-ticket interchange rate. 

3. Fight International Fraudsters

Building your global customer base opens up new avenues for business, but it may also increase your exposure to card-not-present fraud. Make sure your e-commerce stack includes robust fraud prevention, and review and update its settings frequently. Find out if a system allows you to:

  • Automatically score risks to flag potentially suspicious transactions. Among the factors the system may look at are whether an order is coming from a high-risk country, whether a card number has recently been used for a high number of attempted transactions, and whether a shipping address is near the card billing address.
  • Manually review transactions that fall between being automatically rejected and accepted.
  • Maintain a database with a list of proven offenders whose transactions you will reject. Take care that your criteria for inclusion are not overly broad so that you don’t lose legitimate business.
"Tapping your global growth potential may be easier than you think"

Ultimately, the payments strategy you choose will depend on the maturity of your business and how aggressively you market your goods and services to buyers in different locations overseas. If you have the right payments platform and partner helping you as you scale up, tapping your global growth potential may be easier than you think.

Contact me or read more about SVB Global Merchant Services and how we can help you plan for growth.

Related Content

Read more in our series about how to optimize your company's payments tools and processes on SVB's Payments Trends & Insights page.


The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of SVB Financial Group, or Silicon Valley Bank, or any of its affiliates. This material, including without limitation the statistical information herein, is provided for informational purposes only. The material is based in part upon information from third-party sources that we believe to be reliable, but which has not been independently verified by us and, as such, we do not represent that the information is accurate or complete. You should obtain relevant and specific professional advice before making any investment or other decision. Silicon Valley Bank is not responsible for any cost, claim or loss associated with your use of this material.

About the Author

Jonathan Fuller is a global treasury and payments advisor with SVB’s Global Merchant Services team. A long-time resident of Massachusetts, Jonathan is based in SVB’s Newton office where he advises clients on the many merchant services and payment capabilities available through SVB. Known for his expertise in payments, e-payments and credit card solutions, Jonathan has a passion for helping clients develop their ecommerce payment strategy, especially in global marketplaces such as the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America. With more than 10 years of experience helping U.S. companies expand and accept payments outside the U.S., Jonathan is uniquely qualified to guide and advise SVB clients on the best solutions for their payment needs, and ways to monetize their products and services through payment features.

Prior to joining SVB, Jonathan held senior positions with global payment companies such as Vantiv, Adyen, RBS Worldplay and Chase Paymentech. Over the course of his career, Jonathan has not only gained a breadth of knowledge of both U.S. and non-U.S. payments, but also deep knowledge of international cross-border payment solutions.

Jonathan holds a bachelor’s degree from Framingham State University, is an active member in fintech and payments industry groups, and regularly attends industry events to share his knowledge, and also gather new learnings to enhance the guidance he can offer clients. When not working, Jonathan is active in the local community and coaches baseball and basketball.