Basic Challenges of Crossborder E-Commerce In Turkey

I always say; crossborder e-commerce is far beyond marketplace integrations and some digital marketing tricks.

Before entering the subject, i would like to underline that, there is a very, very big potential in crossborder; one of the most important issues for the permanent strengthening of our national economy; we all agree here. However, never ever so simple as said ‘just put some carpets to Amazon with X3 markup, sit back, and make money’..

Well, if you have a store or an experience that you’ve been running in the Amazon for years, okay we can talk about it.. conditions will change relatively. Otherwise it’s totally free to try; put some products to foreign marketplaces,  then wait to sell 2 units (the main point is not about to be able to list 100.000 SKU on Amazon, Souq… or to be able to transport perfectly to the customer in Saudi Arabia, or to be able to receive money without any surprise cuts etc. )

Let’s take it from the beginning; The first distress possibility is related to entry processes into marketplaces.

There are tons of potential problems in all of the promising marketplaces, for example. They may ask you to be a local (local tax number-bank accounts, etc .. see: india flipcard); API structure may not be ready, and manual processes will progress longer and distressed than you think; store opening fees may rise to interesting figures; or the simplest, they can request some local or global payment methods which are limited my goverment here; as like Paypal. (-you can head lot of possible scenarios to use Paypal.. Georgia, Estonia etc. If you are going to use a company account in Paypal, unfortunately the only way is establishing a company)

Lesson 1: Don’t say, ‘uggh my products will be in hundreds of markets, I will defeat them all, I will be like amazon for 2 years! Ahaha!!‘. First o f all, just focus and settle primarily in advantageous markets (eg: in countries where you already have physical stores, where you are relatively familiar / advantageous.. German market for example; there are tons of Turkish citizens are living there).. Just think about, why Amazon.com waited to enter Turkish market for years and years.. 

Let’s say we have established our company, and we also made contracts with selected marketplaces .. It is time to add products and keep them updated.

Do not listen to your sales manager ‘my friend has an integration company; the neighboring company has done the same; no need to take too seriously’ etc. The integrations are definately complex processes; especially if your IT department’s average salary is about 3-5.00TL

You will see many brokerage firms that make these integrations; but frankly, there is no much of a way of doing this right except custom jobs, if we focus to foreign markets . There can be problem in translations at least (for example, if you hire a Syrian translator for the Qatar market, you can probably be ridiculous at the end of the da because of dialects), or you can see inconsistencies in stock amount and price update issues, or sellers can request some mandotary fields which you can not have data available in shortly. If the right structure cannot be established, after 1 year, you will probably go looking for a new solution.

Let me also mention; you may also experience some difficulties due to your existing product records or record types in your ERP structure.

Lesson 2: Integration is VERY serious business. Give the value it deserves; and listen to right peoples, not the peaoples as like Grand Bazaar salesmans. (translations are also important; even you pass the seofriendly content, do not read your product details to your customers as like we read Azeri Turkish)


Note: To listing products without any missing, is not means you will sell. At the end of the day, your sales managers will possibly calumniate to IT team when they don’t see packages are leaving the warehouse. Do not fall for this cheap trap.

We have added products; we also can able to keep them up to date successfully .. oh how beautiful ..

So, did you have localized? Can you provide customer support in local language, for example? Or do you think Telegram is still in use in Russia? Or how many Japanese people will call the customer service number that starts with +90? Or, do you really think you can sell those tiny t-shirts to 190cm+ height Dutch mens? See: Burger King -> Hungry Jack’s for example (do you think Burger King is a sucker when giving up his gigantic brand value?)

Do not even think about only the marketplaces. How will you manage returns; did you think about it? Or did you calculate the cost of returning products? Do you hve enought data to calculate the exact product return rate? Aramex or DHL asking you you, if you would like to pay $15 for the return of your sold product which you already have been sended as cash on delivery.

Or lets think about; you localized, and you have your own operation center in your target markets free trade zones.

You will not be able to sell any products in some attractive markets because of transporting firms $50 security fee per package. How many years do you think you can sell products with X3-X5 markups? Or your biggest advertising channel will restrict you to advertise because of some trademark complaints in your target market; do you have any alternative plan, or will you going to fight with Facebook and Google? Or your SEO agency is creating arabic mini-sites at the target location (wtf?) or just working on hreflang tags and taking your 50% marketing budget? Or you get penalties because of missing retouchings on woman’ skins in your product photos, in Iran market (?)

Lesson 3: You may know trade; I have a very, very great respect for people who have accomplished something from scratch. But when it comes to digital, you need to be aware of the possible lack of knowledge and experience and take these processes more seriously.

From planning to management, i definately recommend you to work with who have experienced those pits one by one, rather than the acquaintances around you or in your party-community-association.

Question: how many firm would willing to give $ 4,000, $ 500 etc. to the following crossborder reports? (I know there are companies in the vision to pay, but I’m sure you understand what I mean)

https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/4622493/europe-cross-border-e-commerce-market-growth

https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Cross-Border-Ecommerce-2018-Country-by-Country-Comparison/2002207

Can we have a firm like Alibaba in Turkey? Its very sad; although we are having enough sources and everything.