April 22, 2014, 12:44 PM

Off to market(places)

New services make it easier for North American retailers to sell via online marketplace to shoppers around the world. And not just via Amazon and eBay.

Lead Photo

U.S.-based e-retailers are eyeing new international opportunities.

BHFO Inc. last year sold $25 million worth of designer apparel, with all of those sales coming through the e-retailer’s storefront on eBay Inc.’s U.S. marketplace. What’s more, 30% of those sales, about $7.5 million, came from international shoppers, says Stacie Sefton, CEO of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based e-retailer. That international sales volume outpaces eBay’s own average; eBay says 20% of goods bought through eBay.com, based on gross merchandise value, are exported.

It’s a similar story at Goja LLC, a 5-year-old e-retailer that sells camera lenses and camera accessories. Goja, No. 845 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Second 500 Guide sold $8.7 million worth of merchandise last year—all of it through online marketplaces operated by eBay and Amazon.com Inc.—and it shipped about 20% of all orders to international customers. “We have been international from day one,” says Goja president Walter Gonzalez.

Both e-retailers say they’ve figured out how to ship to and serve international consumers shopping on U.S. marketplaces, and they’re poised and ready to expand international sales. Sefton says BHFO will be selling on at least one international marketplace before the start of the holiday season. On her shortlist are localized marketplace sites serving consumers in Latin America, Japan, New Zealand and China.

Gonzalez, meanwhile, says Digital Goja will be up and running on at least one MercadoLibre Inc.-operated marketplace in the next six months. MercadoLibre is Latin America’s closest equivalent to eBay—in fact, eBay owns nearly 20% of the company—and operates localized online marketplaces in 13 Latin American countries. It accounted for more than 15% of e-commerce sales in Latin America in 2012, according to the Internet Retailer 2013 Latin America 400. Digital Goja is also cueing up storefronts on eBay.co.uk and eBay.ca to more directly target consumers in the United Kingdom and Canada; it’s also in talks with Amazon to list on Amazon.ca.

These e-retailers, and many other U.S.-based e-retailers, are eyeing international opportunities. In Shop.org and Forrester Research Inc.’s most recent State of Retailing Online survey, 14% of U.S. merchants put investing in international sales as one of their top four priorities for 2014. It’s easy to see why there’s interest: E-retail growth is global. Numerous forecasts show that online sales growth in regions like Latin America and China far outpace that of the United States. For example, Forrester projects web sales in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico will grow 135% by 2018. But in the United States, where e-commerce is much larger than in Latin America, growth is expected to taper off, expanding by 14.6% this year, 14.2% in 2015, 13.6% in 2016 and 12.8% in 2017, according to U.S. market research firm eMarketer Inc.

Seeing the shifting sands, online marketplaces and service providers that already support marketplace sellers stateside are trying to make global selling easier, offering services that aim to make selling internationally as straightforward as selling to someone next door. These services include calculating total payments costs at checkout, shipping assistance and marketplace management.

Learn much more about the latest trends in marketplace sales in the upcoming May issue of Internet Retailer magazine. Subscribe for free right here.

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