The Cross-Border Trade Opportunity for Small Businesses

Small and medium-sized businesses faced serious hardships in the last two years but made a strong comeback following the pandemic. According to a recent industry report, total sales at SMBs rose 4.5% through August 2021 year-to-date compared to the same period in 2020.

During this time, cross-border trade (CBT) grew quickly as international shoppers buying online sought bargains and unique products. A PayPal Online SMB Survey from 2021 indicated that 81% of SMBs in Singapore were already engaged or planning to engage in CBT to survive and thrive during the pandemic. While a high proportion of online shoppers in Singapore bought from overseas, the report showed that Singaporean merchants were also leveraging global growth in online commerce, with 67% of those surveyed engaging in CBT. Similarly, PayPal’s MSME Digital Readiness Survey found that 94% of small Indian merchants recognized that transcending borders resulted in growth and were making CBT a priority moving forward to bounce back after the pandemic.

Small- and medium-sized businesses are critical for economic growth. With the increasing digitalization of trade, the success of these businesses, to some extent, relies on their ability to expand across borders. Even as many adopt new technologies, others are in urgent need of digital infrastructure, training, and processes. The benefits presented by CBT to SMBs can be considered with a few first steps.

Here are five ways in which small businesses can put themselves on the path to success in trade across borders.

  1. Check business health

Regularly taking the time to analyze and appraise your approach can help identify what's working well, the gaps to be filled, and what needs improvement. Taking stock of business performance can help build resilience for the future and allow operations to expand smoothly at the right time. One way to do this is to analyze data from previous years to help identify problem areas and build tactics that will help avoid future troubles.

  1. Research new customers online

Discovering effective ways to connect with potential shoppers online can help generate sales. By differentiating a brand and leveraging social media, merchants can develop a strong online presence and build a loyal customer base. Auditing and optimizing the brand’s website to make sure all content is still relevant, user-friendly, and easy to navigate is important.

Social media is a powerful tool to drive brand awareness and keep customers engaged. Having a strong social media presence can help reach a wider audience and connect with buyers in a more personal way.

  1. Optimize marketing

In addition to working alongside direct competitors for customer attention, SMBs are also up against massive brands, informational resources, and media publishers. No matter the kind of business, optimizing for search is a must-do. Here is a quick technical SEO checklist that will help brands raise their visibility and discoverability.

It is important to recognize the impact of Generative AI may soon have on search results. Search platforms such as Google and Bing are planning to change the way we interact with information. Using AI, these search engines could soon generate more relevant and personalized content for users. in this way they hope to offer enhanced search accuracy and semantic understanding.

  1. Choose a robust payments partner

In the highly competitive online shopping landscape, the key to converting more sales lies in whether businesses are providing payment options tailored to their customers’ preferences. Customers expect a greater choice in payments and failing to meet this expectation can create unnecessary friction, potentially resulting in cart abandonment and site drop-offs.

That’s why it’s important to identify and offer the right mix of payment options to create a smooth shopping journey.

PayPal provides an extensive set of solutions that can help small businesses go across borders and simplify payment for their customers present across 200 markets. Take a look at PayPal’s payment solutions to help you find the best fit for your business needs.

  1. Transform your tech

PayPal can help you keep pace with rapidly changing buyer behaviors and complex regulatory environments. Once integrated, PayPal’s checkout architecture can help future-proof your business with automatic access to new features and optimizations. A single integration also enables scale, making it easy to build your business within your home market and even extend into new, international markets.

You can customize your integration methodology at the deepest level with a suite of developer-friendly Software Development Kit (SDKs) and Application Programming Interface (APIs.).  These kits and interface serve as a development framework to simplify the creation of applications. PayPal’s Solutions Engineering team will partner with you to design, implement, and optimize your integration, and ensure both payment card industry and regulatory compliance. And a modular integration approach helps you operationalize payment capabilities quickly without delaying or disrupting your roadmap.

The Road Ahead

The democratization of trade has been a tremendously positive development, resulting in inclusion and growth implications for small businesses. Implementing a successful CBT strategy requires careful interpretation of available information and resources to support the potential for business growth. From regularly checking your business health to having a foolproof tech system, along with choosing a robust payment partner, the above best practices will help get your basics right and set you up for success.

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