Tapping into a global e-commerce market can undoubtedly open up new opportunities. You enhance audiences acquisition, you can streamline your supply chain, and source from more cost-effective product alternatives. However, there are also risks you have to manage especially when dealing with foreign parties. For example, international suppliers may offer the cheapest products in the global market but they've garnered a reputation for being unreliable. As a result, Alibaba was compelled to introduce assurance mechanisms to put U.S. and European retailers at ease.

You may also have to be wary of third-party services that manage payments and fulfilment for you. Recently, payment companies LianLian Pay and PingPong were reportedly found to be encouraging businesses to commit data security lapses by requiring Amazon merchants to cough up their Marketplace Web Service (MWS) secret keys. This simply goes against the standard practice as these keys are meant to be kept private. In the wrong hands, they may be used to steal sensitive data such as sellers' financial and customer information.

Given these risks, it's important for you to protect your business' interests. Here are three ways you can secure your cross-border efforts.

1. Exercise Extensive Due Diligence

Before partnering with a third-party service, exercise due diligence and deeply evaluate their capabilities and integrity. Reach out to other companies in their client lists and inquire about their performance. Also, make sure that your chosen providers are duly registered and legitimate business entities with solid track records. You may also want to insist on drafting a custom contract so that you can ensure your protection and enforceability.

2. Follow Best Practices

Integrating your e-commerce system with a service provider's platform may be necessary to streamline your workflow. But it's important to follow the recommended and secure approaches. For instance, platforms like Amazon's MWS have guidelines for the secure use of their programming interfaces. Be wary of giving third-parties sweeping access to your systems and your data and make sure that you retain full control over your system.

3. Develop Other Linkages

Avoiding becoming reliant on one supplier or service provider. Develop relationships with reputable parties in the region. Think of it like diversifying your portfolio to manage risk. Having alternatives gives you the flexibility to drop unreliable parties. Expanding your supply lines would also ensure that your business wouldn't be disrupted when issues arise because if they do, the damage can sometimes be irreparable. Identify where your high-risk areas exist and consider diversifying accordingly.

Focus on Potential

There are various issues that you need to anticipate and address when scaling globally--such is the reality of business today. However, engaging an international market could be the boost your business needs. Keep a positive mindset and focus on the upsides. The sooner you come to terms with the challenges and risks that businesses face in today's competitive landscape, the sooner will you be able to take concrete actions to make your expansion a reality.

Published on: Dec 11, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.