Global competition in e-commerce is fierce, and many factors must be considered before investing abroad. However, to achieve profitability and long-term growth, looking beyond Sweden’s borders is essential.

Our e-commerce expert, Linda Laszlo Ek, works daily with Swedish e-retailers, helping them build robust export strategies and adapt their business concepts to maintain a competitive local presence in each market. Here, she answers some of the most frequently asked questions about international e-commerce and provides five key tips to enhance your chances of success with internationalisation.

What laws and regulations do you need to be aware of when internationalising your e-commerce?

The specific laws and regulations you need to consider depend on your unique circumstances, where you are in the internationalisation process, and the level of investment in a particular market. Factors such as the types of products you sell, the markets you enter, and the channels you use all play a crucial role.

As your e-commerce becomes more targeted and localised towards a particular market and your sales volumes increase, your responsibility to comply with local regulations also grows. These regulations can include local product requirements, registration requirements, VAT accounting, marketing rules, and information requirements for your online shop.

To ensure compliance and avoid potential legal issues, it is vital to thoroughly research and understand the specific regulations in each market you enter.


What basic factors are considered important for an international online store to be reliable and safe for online shopping?

As a foreign e-commerce operator, it is important to establish security, trust, and confidence with local customers. Attracting visitors to your online shop is one challenge, but converting those visits into completed purchases is another.

To build this trust, several “reassurance markers” are universally important to customers. Different markets have unique preferences and behavioural patterns, so gradually adapting your online shop to meet these local expectations will enhance your success.

A foundational step is to offer local payment solutions and currencies. Ensure that the total price, including any freight, duties, and taxes, is clearly stated at checkout. Providing local delivery methods and accurate delivery times further binds reliability. Additionally, clarity and transparency in information on your website, such as the returns process, are essential.

Translating your website into local languages has proven increasingly important, though its necessity can vary based on your target audience and export strategy. Addressing these key areas can create a more reliable and inviting shopping experience for international customers.


Can you open your online shop to the whole world, or should you limit it geographically?

Opening a webshop to the entire world can pose risks if you are unfamiliar with the diverse laws and regulations governing different markets. For instance, encountering unexpectedly high customs duties and fees upon entry could lead to customers refusing to accept their goods.

Another scenario might involve incorrectly completing export/import documents or overlooking entry requirements, resulting in customs holding up goods. This situation not only delays delivery but also entails additional costs and inconvenience for both you and the customer. Specific markets may also demand local registration, compliance with VAT accounting, or adherence to particular product requirements.

To mitigate these risks, a sensible approach is to initially establish your online shop within a specific geographical scope. This allows you to maintain control and gradually gain expertise in managing various market conditions. Over time, as you become more familiar with different markets and their intricacies, you can strategically expand to include more global markets.

Depending on your export strategy, there are benefits to identifying your customer base and thoroughly understanding the markets where you intend to operate. Tailoring your offerings to local preferences and needs can significantly enhance your competitiveness. Conversely, maintaining a generic global site may pose challenges in standing out amid intense international competition. Therefore, focusing on localised marketing efforts, such as targeted social media campaigns, can be essential for effectively reaching and engaging potential customers in specific regions.


Do products you sell online need to be adapted to the local requirements of the market you are selling to?

The need to adapt your products to local market requirements depends on the specific product markets involved. Sellers are responsible for ensuring compliance with local regulations, including labelling, ingredient lists, recycling rules, and consumer production standards, which can vary significantly across different markets.

In the EU, harmonised rules facilitate e-commerce between member countries, although sellers must also consider specific national regulations.

For markets outside the EU, it is essential to research and understand the regulatory requirements for each product in each country. Requirements may vary even within different states or provinces of the same country, influencing decisions on product customisation and market selection.

Five tips for successful international e-commerce

Linda suggests that focusing on the following factors will enhance your prospects of becoming a successful international e-commerce player:

  • Evaluate and select markets where your offer has the greatest potential.
  • Customise locally! The choice of sales channels, payment solutions, currency, delivery methods, language, customer service, and marketing can be crucial.
  • Focus on the customer and cultivate strong customer relationships, even on an international scale.
  • Identify competitive advantages and strategies to differentiate yourself in the new market.
  • Challenge yourself and take calculated risks!