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Must Have Strategies for a Smarter Global E-Commerce Pricing

No matter what you sell or where you sell, a pricing strategy will make or break your business. But pricing is even more important in the world of global eCommerce.

We live in a borderless world where online shoppers can compare prices in just a few clicks. You’re competing with brands from all over the world now, and that means competition is fierce. You have to approach your international pricing strategy with care and finesse. 

Instead of pricing your eCommerce products arbitrarily, you need a specific strategy for all of your markets. That means looking at: 

  • Distribution channel
  • Competitor
  • Geography

…to carefully price your products and stay profitable. When you price right in global eCommerce, you’ll grow your online channels and thrive—even in competitor-infested waters. 

Proven global eCommerce website pricing strategies for global brands

If you’re unsure how to price your eCommerce operation, don’t worry. Lingble has years of experience helping international eCommerce brands sell to customers across the globe. Tap into our 8 must-do tips to price right in an international market. 

1. Add the “extra” charges in your pricing strategy to avoid unwanted surprises

Picture it: you’re an online shopper. You spend a lot of time adding items to your cart, only to realize that your $49 shirt is actually $70 because of taxes and duties. 

If you’re in the customer’s shoes, these hidden costs at checkout mean one thing: leaving ASAP. Surprise charges are the number-one reason for cart abandonment on eCommerce sites—they’re responsible for 50% of all abandoned carts!

And, what’s worse, some global eCommerce brands don’t even reveal these hidden fees during checkout. A customer thinks they’re buying a $49 shirt, completes checkout, receives a shipping notification, and then it happens!—they get a notice from customs that they owe 20% in duties. 

Not only is your customer outraged at the bait and switch, but this puts the responsibility of paying duties on the customer. That will easily delay their package as they try to navigate the murky waters of custom duties debt. 

International eCommerce sites forget that customers have unlimited places to buy products. It’s so easy for a shopper to abandon their cart once they get a nasty surprise. If you anger them enough, your customers might purposely go to your competitor. 

The best fix to this pricing dilemma is to stop surprising customers with unexpected fees. Customers want pricing transparency from the start

If you don’t want to alienate customers, you have to bake taxes and duties into the overall price of your product. At Lingble, we advise our global eCommerce brands to ship on a “delivery duties paid” basis. 

In plain English, that means customers see the total prices of all items on the product list page and the checkout page. If you expect the customer to front money for something, spell it out in black and white everywhere. Don’t catfish them with a lower price on the product page and surprise them at checkout. 

2. Decrease abandoned carts by offering free shipping

You’re selling to an international audience, right? So why make international shipping such a guessing game for shoppers? 

When you wait until checkout to share international shipping charges with your customers, you’re giving them yet another nasty surprise. 

Let’s be honest here: cross-border shipping gets expensive. Carts with a value of $400 USD can easily run $40 USD in shipping. You know international shipping is expensive, but your customers probably don’t. 

After spending a ton of time shopping your site and adding items to their cart, do you think customers will stick around for a $40 shipping charge? 

No way! You’re going to lose that customer for good. 

Lingble tells our clients to always offer free shipping. If you’ll lose your shirt on free shipping, at least offer it for carts above a certain order value. 

Now, when you offer free shipping, you need to do a few things:

  • Clearly advertise free shipping: Put it in the header of each page or call it out with a banner. If you require a certain threshold for free shipping, advertise it here. 
  • Encourage minimums in checkout: If you offer free shipping on orders over $75 USD, make sure your checkout encourages customers to reach that $75 threshold. Language like, “You’re $15 away from free shipping!” boosts order value while giving customers the free shipping they crave. 
  • Offer flat shipping, if you can: Flat shipping rates are predictable, and customers want that predictability in your pricing strategy. You might have to subsidize some of these shipping charges, but it’s worth it. 

But why would a global eCommerce brand lose money subsidizing shipping, anyway? Isn’t that bad business? 

It’s all a matter of perspective. In the world of global eCommerce, your customers demand free shipping. You’re in the business of fulfilling customers’ demands, which means treating free shipping not as a line item, but as a marketing expense. 

That’s right: shipping costs are actually part of customer acquisition because they increase conversions and decrease abandoned carts. 

70% of online shoppers say free shipping is the most important factor in their purchase. If they see surprise shipping charges at checkout, they’ll immediately leave. 

Stop surprising shoppers on your site. Be upfront about your shipping policies, but don’t be afraid to meet customers halfway, either.

3. Don’t get too greedy with your margins when you’re just starting out

Are you about to have a heart attack over shipping costs? We get it. 

You might think that covering duties and shipping would put you in the poorhouse. Or that they’ll squeeze your margins too tight. 

As a global eCommerce seller, you’ve got attractive margins because you operate online. But is this really the time to lose sleep over costs that actually grow your business? 

Margins matter, absolutely. But you shouldn’t lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish, and that’s building a successful, international eCommerce brand. 

It’s difficult to cover costs like duties or shipping, but eCommerce gives you a lot of control with: 

  • Branding.
  • Owning the customer relationship.
  • Data collection.
  • Distributor freedom.

In our experience, new eCommerce brands should have margins closer to wholesale instead of retail. That will give you room to absorb these additional costs, so don’t panic. 

Sorry to break it to you, but to be successful tomorrow, you have to live with some of these costs right now. 

You can’t get greedy with your margins in your first few years, because that’s when you should be boosting your reputation. Pay a little extra to invest in your online assets. It pays off in the long run. 

4. Price locally with a customers’ currency

It sounds obvious, but so many global eCommerce brands make the mistake of listing products in non-native currencies. Sure, you’re based in Asia, but you shouldn’t display prices in yen to Canadian shoppers. 

Online shopping means your buyers are borderless. If you truly want a loyal, international customer base, you have to remove any friction or confusion in the shopping process. 

Imagine how exasperating it is to see a product listed in a foreign currency. A German shopper won’t necessarily understand prices listed in dollars—they should see prices in euros!

When customers are unfamiliar with a currency, they aren’t sure of the actual cost. That’s going to discourage them from buying. 

Even if a customer decides to pull the trigger and make a purchase, they could get blindsided by currency conversions. 

Currency is a big, confusing mess, and that’s why you need to price your products by a shopper’s location or shipping destination. Fortunately, this is an easy fix for your global eCommerce website. 

Your website should flex to fit a customer’s:

  • Currency
  • Language
  • Geographic area
  • Payment method

If a website doesn’t include all of these features, you’ll probably lose a customer forever. Lingble works with global eCommerce brands to localize your website as much as possible. That means enabling multi-currency pricing, over 100 payment methods, and 24/7 multilingual customer support. Anything less means you aren’t pricing efficiently. 

5. Keep your pricing strategy consistent across all channels

There’s something called “pricing parity” in eCommerce, and it should play a big role in your pricing strategy. 

If you already sell a product in a particular country, your existing customers can shop around. It only takes a few Google searches to see what your products sell for across different eCommerce platforms. 

It’s so easy for customers to compare prices. So don’t ask customers to pay more for products on your website when they can buy them cheaper elsewhere. 

Your products, shipping, duties, and other costs have to be on the same playing field as existing distributors in a market. If you’re charging customers more than a distributor, they’re likely going to shop with the distributor instead. 

Don’t work against yourself when you’re going into a new market. Lingble suggests owning your distribution in an established market, which means:

  • Using pricing parity at a global scale: Keep your prices relatively even across all of your distribution channels. That’s a tall order, but keeping your pricing differences as narrow as possible improves sales and customer satisfaction. 
  • Controlling the brand experience: You’re the owner of the brand, not your distributors. As a new kid on the block, you get access to customer data, brand image, and experience with owned channels. That’s a huge advantage!
  • Checking your contract: Do you have exclusivity deals with this distributor? Don’t agree to any exclusive distribution deals—this can destroy your ability to grow internationally. 

6. Sell unique products for more pricing flexibility

If you have a distribution channel in a particular country, you need that pricing to be consistent. 

But if you add unique products to your website that customers can’t get anywhere else, you have way more pricing flexibility. 

This is awesome for your brand because:

  • There are no exclusivity clauses or contracts with another distributor. That means you call the shots. 
  • You can invest in a truly global inventory. Shoppers across the globe can only buy this unique product from your global eCommerce website, which means you finally get a true international presence. 
  • It gives customers more options. Nobody wants to buy the same old products online. Your new products help customers find a unique, fun solution that solves their pain points. 
  • Unique products are a differentiator. How are you different from every other eCommerce website? Well, if you sell exclusive products, that’s a huge leg up on competitors who simply white label their products. 
  • You own the customer data. A distributor is no longer the gatekeeper of your customer data. Direct sales helps you create better products and optimize marketing to the right audiences. 

At Lingble, we’re all-in on unique products. They’re the key to greater brand control and competition-proofing your business. If you have an idea for an amazing new product, go for it. It requires work, but this pricing strategy will help you stand out in a crowded market while boosting sales. 

7. Use gray and black channels to find new markets 

Let’s say you’re currently selling products in Japan, but you want to expand to Europe. You don’t have any existing distribution channels in the EU, but after a few Google searches, you realize your products are selling through unofficial distribution channels. 

This can happen with gray market and black market products. 

Gray markets happen when someone sells your products outside of your normal distribution channels. This usually happens when your products aren’t available in a certain market and customers still want them. It also happens if one market has higher pricing than another market. 

The black market is an even bigger problem for global eCommerce brands. Black market sales happen with counterfeit products or stolen goods. Black market sales are especially hurtful if you’re trying to build a trustworthy name for your brand. 

Gray market and black market products give you zero control over the brand. After all, there’s a reason Chanel doesn’t want someone reselling fake Chanel merchandise: it hurts the integrity of the brand. 

Plus, if your gray market and black market products are selling for much less, it puts a huge dent in your pricing strategy. You don’t want these unofficial products undercutting your profitability in a new market!

Fortunately, you can use these fraudsters to your advantage. Do some investigating online to see if your products are selling under the table. Lingble helps our clients check for gray market and black market sales faster, too. 

Once you see what these products sell for in unauthorized markets, use these prices as a benchmark. That sounds counterintuitive, but benchmarking these prices will encourage customers to buy directly from you instead of the unauthorized sellers. 

8. Monitor and price like your competitors

Competition is no fun, but it’s the game we have to play in global eCommerce. Unless you’re selling unique products, you have to watch how other sellers price their items. 

Follow these tips to do better competitor pricing:

  • Look for established competitors. If they’ve been in the space for a long time, their pricing is probably more accurate and sustainable. 
  • Target competitors in your quality tier. Are you offering affordable, everyday items or are you targeting a more premium audience? Look for competitors who sell products of similar quality. 
  • Track competitor prices over time. Lingble helps eCommerce brands monitor competitors’ pricing strategies for the long haul. Analyze their pricing trends to pick apart your competitors’ strategies. 

After a little research, you should price your products competitively. Does that mean improving the product quality and charging more? Or adjusting manufacturing to sell your product for less? Or something in-between? You won’t know which approach to take unless you understand who’s already in the market. 

You should never price solely based on competitor data, though. At the end of the day, it’s about providing value and giving a great customer experience. Price according to what your customers expect, not just what the competition is doing. 

Global eCommerce means global pricing strategies 

eCommerce brands should approach pricing from a holistic angle. But pricing can get murky and complicated in an international environment. Instead of learning through trial and error, rely on Lingble’s tips to maximize profitability and brand longevity with smarter pricing. 
Make cross-border eCommerce a reality for your brand. Step into new markets confidently by implementing the right pricing strategies. If you need a total eCommerce solution at a global scale, get in touch with Lingble.

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