Global DTC E-commerce: How to Overcome the Challenges of Selling Consumer Goods


One of the most important levers brands can pull for exponential growth is to open their catalog to global business with a direct-to-consumer e-commerce presence.

While enabling international commerce is considered table stakes for cosmetics, footwear, and apparel brands courting younger millennial and Gen-Z shoppers, selling other consumer goods such as hardware and electronics globally is much more complex.  

Before embarking on international expansion, it’s important that these brands get it right from the beginning. This means understanding and meeting fraud, data, and product compliance regulations for each country to which a brand ships. And secondarily, but equally important, is delivering a localized consumer experience. 

Even though the global DTC target audience — Gen Z and Millennials — don’t really care where their purchases come from, they do have high expectations that the brands they shop will deliver the same elevated experience whether their purchase is coming from around the corner or from a country thousands of miles away.  

For consumer goods brands contemplating global expansion, the first consideration they must make is around developing a country-by-country infrastructure to support cross-border commerce. Each country has specific and varied fraud rules along with different product and data compliance requirements. Building this infrastructure can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. Many consumer goods are finding greater success and instant scalability with partners who have a deep understanding of how to navigate these complexities.

The second consideration is the customer experience. Creating a seamless, localized experience is the key to success in the consumer goods space, just as it is for global DTC luxury, apparel, and footwear brands. Establishing brand legitimacy and fostering consumers’ trust should be every international CG company’s top priority. 

Key strategies to overcome the challenges that global DTC e-commerce presents, include:

  • Clearly display native currency pricing: Forcing the consumer to discover what the item costs in their currency is a huge barrier to international sales. Pricing products in the local currency instantly creates trust.
  • Accept local payment options with a secure payment provider: Accepting local credit cards, debit cards, and even cash on delivery for some parts of the globe gives consumers confidence that they are purchasing from a reliable “real” company.
  • Provide upfront and transparent shipping costs(inclusive of local taxes, tariffs, and duties): Shipping is one of the top concerns consumers have with making international purchases. When shipping costs are clearly listed and mention any additional fees that could be tacked on such as taxes, tariffs, and duties, shoppers will feel more inclined to purchase without fearing additional costs.  
  • Ensure fast, trackable shipping: Providing estimated shipping windows, projected arrival dates, and tracking numbers gives consumers shopping across borders peace of mind that their product will truly arrive.  
  • Facilitate easy, low-cost or even free returns: Guaranteeing frictionless returns and refunds is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reassure shoppers that any brand is a legitimate one.  

Understanding local compliance requirements, while keeping the consumer top-of-mind, will give consumer goods brands the access to the benefits of an expanded marketplace in this increasingly global world.

—Chad Johnson, ESW’s Vice President of Sales, Electronics, Gaming, and Digital

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