What about the cross-border e-commerce market in 2021? Is there still a chance for novice merchants to settle in?

7 min readMar 7, 2021

As the 2020 epidemic hits the world, the global economy is in recession, and all walks of life have been hit hard, but crises and opportunities often coexist. According to the foreign trade export data released by the General Administration of Customs on January 14 this year, my country’s trade in goods will increase in 2020. The total export value was RMB 32,155.69 billion, an increase of 1.9% over 2019. Among them, exports were 17,932.64 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 4%; imports were 14,223.06 billion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 0.7%.

1. Industry data

(1). China’s cross-border e-commerce overseas warehouses have exceeded 1,800, with a year-on-year growth rate of 80%

Zhang Li, deputy director of the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Commerce, said today that in the face of the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the import and export of cross-border e-commerce in 2020 will increase by 31.1%, and the total market purchase trade will exceed 100 billion US dollars. More than 10,000 traditional companies have touched the Internet, and the number of cross-border e-commerce overseas warehouses has exceeded 1,800. Last year, the growth rate reached 80% and the area exceeded 12 million square meters.

(2). The share of Chinese sellers among Amazon’s top sellers hit a record high

An annual report released by e-commerce data company Marketplace provides an inventory and analysis of the performance of Amazon and other platforms in 2020. According to the report, in 2020, 62% of Amazon’s global GMV came from third-party sellers, which is higher than 60% in 2019 and 58% in 2018. Specifically, more than 360,000 sellers contributed 90% of the GMV of the platform, of which 850 large sellers contributed 10% of Amazon’s GMV, and more than 38,000 small and medium-sized sellers contributed 50% of GMV.

It is worth mentioning that the report pointed out that by the end of 2020, the share of Chinese sellers in Amazon’s top sellers reached a record high, reaching 42%. The sales contributed by Chinese sellers accounted for the second largest share of Amazon’s overall sales, and domestic sellers ranked first.

From the above data, it can be seen that under the impact of the 2020 epidemic, my country’s foreign trade imports and exports have been significantly better than expected, and the scale of foreign trade has reached a record high. So for 2021, the prospects of cross-border e-commerce are still very good.

2021 will continue to be affected by the epidemic and a lot of uncertainties. Under this background, there are still markets going overseas, mainly in the following aspects:

The first is to deepen the e-commerce platforms of listed companies that focus on explosive models, such as amazon and aliexpress, etc. One is that listed companies will not go bankrupt if they have money, and the other is to start with the model of explosive models, but the competition is fierce. It is necessary to have rich experience and supply chain resources, otherwise it is difficult to make a big development, and may even lose money.

The second is to seize the dividends of Chinese companies going overseas, such as the international version of TikTok and the overseas version of Bilibili, etc. If you know how to jump to overseas ips and make overseas local content videos, this is also worth entering!

2. In 2021, novices entering cross-border e-commerce must first consider the products and platforms.

(1). Choose product or platform?

Product selection has always been the most important link in all aspects of cross-border e-commerce. Poor product selection will have a greater impact on subsequent operations, logistics, and after-sales. In the past few years of cross-border e-commerce, sellers have focused on several well-established platforms, including Amazon, AliExpress, Wish, etc. As more and more platform sellers, the rules of the platform have gradually begun. Perfect, some sellers who are unwilling to endure the restrictions of the platform began to switch to self-built sites. If you consider the product from the perspective of the product, then the appropriate one is the best. Otherwise, no matter how large the volume of the platform is, no matter how high the traffic is, it has nothing to do with you. If you choose a category with fierce competition, the difficulty of operation will increase a lot.

This is not a question of whether there is a chicken or an egg, but how to find a suitable chicken to incubate the egg in your hand. In fact, you may wish to change your thinking, first select the product, and then select the target market according to the attributes of the product, and find the most suitable platform for your product from the target market. There are several factors to consider during this period:

1. Local regulations: Each country has different requirements for different categories of products. For example, PSE and TELEC in Japan; FCC, UL, FDA in the United States; CE and UKCE in Europe. Including some special requirements, such as fumigation certificates for wood products. Ensure the safety and compliance of the product sales process.

2. Logistics transportation: logistics transportation timeliness and logistics prices must be considered. First, it must meet the profit requirements of the product, and secondly, consider the timeliness requirements of the platform.

3. Language barriers: The translation tool applications on the market are already very convenient and efficient, but spoken language and slang are still difficult problems that translation software can’t understand. Good product copywriting and communication between buyers and sellers require a certain level of language skills.

(2). Mature platform or emerging market?

Among the current cross-border platforms, the Amazon North American site has the highest traffic volume and, of course, the North American site has the largest number of sellers and the most intense competition. Amazon sellers know that to build a product, it takes a lot of energy and financial resources, and many people are trapped in the whirlpool of profits and rankings, and they are miserable.

In recent years, more and more people have turned their attention to emerging markets.

Emerging markets have two definitions. One is a newly developed regional market with relatively high growth in e-commerce; the other is a country along the “Belt and Road”. Here, you can recommend two platforms with market potential, AliExpress & Lazada

AliExpress: It is a cross-border e-commerce platform under Alibaba for the international market and is called the “international version of Taobao” by the majority of sellers. AliExpress faces overseas buyers, uses Alipay international accounts for secured transactions, and uses international logistics channels to transport and deliver goods. It is the third largest English online shopping website in the world.

Development status: AliExpress is Alibaba’s online trading platform for the international market. It was established in 2010. Its customers and buyers have spread to more than 220 countries and regions, covering 30 items such as apparel, 3C, home furnishings, accessories, etc. The first-level industry category is China’s largest cross-border export retail platform.

Platform logistics situation: Now AliExpress can directly deliver goods through platform logistics, such as: Cainiao logistics, official worry-free logistics, China Post large and small packages, commercial express: EMS, TNT, UPS, etc., support door-to-door pickup, one-click When sending to overseas markets, we can also provide overseas warehouse services. For example, the countries in the main markets of AliExpress now support overseas warehouse shipments. Currently, more than 30 countries have overseas warehouses.

Lazada: The platform was established in 2012 and has been in development for 8 years. It is one of the largest shopping platforms in the Southeast Asian market. The platform covers six national markets including Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In 2018, it was fully covered by Alibaba. In April 2019, it began to attract investment for Chinese sellers. The market potential lies in the first: demographic dividend. The Southeast Asian market has a population of 600–700 million. The overall population is relatively young. The e-commerce penetration rate is now about 3%. The future market space is very large. Second: platform dividends. In the early stage, the platform needs to develop must be endorsed by some brand merchants. Products suitable for the Southeast Asian market have supply chain advantages. The platform will give strong support, but for For individual entrepreneurs, the competition is not that big.

(1) Unparalleled opportunities for e-commerce:

Lazada cross-border business introduction:

Lazada cross-border logistics solutions:

Note: Lazada is shipped through platform logistics. Merchants send the goods to the sorting center, and platform logistics are distributed to local consumers in local countries.

The AliExpress & Lazada platform is a platform under the Alibaba Group. Compared with other cross-border e-commerce platforms, the protection rate for merchants will be higher. We believe that all merchants who have experienced the 2020 epidemic can feel that the future globalization is Ali. The most important strategy of Baba, AliExpress and Lazada will be the vanguards of globalization. The platform will be more complete, logistics, payment, user scale, and deep cultivation of the national market. What our merchants have to do is to promote good Chinese products to overseas Buyers in the market can buy it with confidence and use it happily. Merchants can choose a platform to do it according to their product situation and company development strategy.

Everyone’s resources and energy are limited. Emerging markets may be relatively small at the beginning. If you do enter these markets, you will get a lot of surprises.

Finally, I want to say something to everyone: No matter how the industry develops and changes, the core of cross-border e-commerce operations must be inseparable: product selection, operation, logistics, after-sales, comprehensive consideration of several sectors, and then subdivide specific steps to do Good process management, the result will not be bad. Especially novice Xiaobai, whether it is a cross-border platform or self-built station, making good use of your own resources and advantages is the key to victory.

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