How Nigerian SMEs Can Overcome Obstacles To Go Global

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It is projected that by 2027, the global e-commerce market will hit $9.3 trillion. Now, that's something to get excited about as it promises huge opportunities for Nigerian SMEs looking to go global. But of course, diving into international trade expansion comes with its fair share of challenges.

To achieve global market penetration and thrive on a worldwide scale, businesses need to overcome several hurdles. These include navigating diverse payment methods and ensuring smooth international shipping. In this article, we will examine four barriers that business owners face when trying to boost their competitiveness in the international market and the proven strategies to overcome them. 

Payment Methods

There are various payment options in Nigeria. Though some payment platforms may describe themselves as global, their acceptance can vary greatly depending on the country. A PayPal checkout report shows that as much as 59% of shoppers will ditch their cart if their preferred payment option isn't available. To avoid this, it's important to offer a variety of payment options, including the most popular ones in each region you sell to.

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Go Local: 
Make sure your e-commerce platform recognizes your customer's location. This allows you to display the correct currency and potentially adjust the site experience for their region.

Transparency is Key: 
For credit card payments, clearly show the final amount customers will pay before they reach the checkout stage.

Embrace Global Payment Gateways: 
Partner with a secure payment gateway like WorldPay, PayPal, or Stripe. These services handle multiple currencies and simplify international transactions.

Fight Fraud: 
Stay informed about common fraud tactics and hotspots. If you suspect a fraudulent transaction, don't hesitate to require a bank transfer before shipping the goods.

Language barriers are a major hurdle for e-commerce businesses, especially those from English-speaking countries. While English has a global reach, many consumers prefer to shop in their native language. Studies show that nearly 60% of shoppers abandon carts if their preferred language isn't offered. By translating your website and product descriptions, you can unlock new markets and significantly boost sales.

True success lies in cultural awareness, and to get it right, you will need to:

  • Use a local country code, such as .au for Australia or .my for Malaysia.
  • Avoid generic imagery and adapt it to each market. For your website, invest in professional transcreation services. This goes beyond simple translation, ensuring your website's message resonates with international customers while preserving your brand voice and style.
  • Digital purchases often require users to enter sensitive credit card information. For this reason, you should initiate data protection measures to establish trust.


Choosing the Right Platform: 

Choosing the right e-commerce platform is crucial for growth, much like choosing the right location for a physical store. An outdated platform, particularly a custom-built one from your startup days, can hinder your expansion plans. As you navigate new markets, these archaic platforms might struggle with multiple currencies, require clunky third-party apps for basic features, and lack compatibility with cutting-edge technologies like AI chatbots and payment gateways.

Collaboration with experienced e-commerce solution providers can streamline the platform selection and implementation process, ensuring seamless integration.

Transitioning to a more suitable platform can be disruptive, but delaying this decision only exacerbates the problem.

Things you can get done:

  • Plan for the future: Consider your long-term business goals. What do you envision for your business?

  • Research platforms: Explore options such as Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, etc.

  • Prioritize features: Focus on security, customization, flexibility, and scalability.

  • Content management: Consider if you need a platform with CMS functionality.

  • Emerging tech: Ensure AI and chat functionalities are included or available as add-ons.

  • Global payments: Verify that the platform supports various payment methods (e.g., Intuit, Skrill).

  • Mobile optimization: Choose a platform that optimizes your site for mobile users.


International Shipping

While the idea of expanding your e-commerce business globally might be exciting, the reality of international shipping can be daunting. Shipping costs can quickly eat into profits, especially for low-margin items. On top of that, navigating a maze of size and weight restrictions, customs regulations, and ever-shifting regional practices can feel like an international headache. Then there's the constant worry about damaged or lost packages, potentially continents away. It's no wonder some online retailers shy away from the complexities of cross-border e-commerce. But fear not, there is a way to navigate these challenges and successfully reach a wider audience.

Don't go global alone:  With an experienced international shipping provider, you can reduce the hassle you might experience when shipping internationally. DHL offers an extensive network, expertise in navigating customs regulations, and support for businesses of all sizes. It doesn't matter if you are a global corporation or a bedroom-based startup, you can overcome these logistical hurdles and efficiently reach new markets.

Wrapping it all up…

Don't let the challenges of going global overwhelm you. By overcoming obstacles such as diverse payment methods, language barriers, and complex international shipping, Nigerian SMEs can unlock the vast potential of the global e-commerce market. Remember, with careful planning and the right partners, your Nigerian business can thrive on a worldwide scale.


  1. https://www.retail-insight-network.com/news/global-ecommerce-market-worth-2027-forecasts-globaldata/?cf-view&cf-closed

  2. https://www.paypal.com/us/brc/article/payments-decrease-abandoned-checkouts-2023#:~:text=Lack%20of%20preferred%20payment%20methods,their%20preferred%20payment%20is%20unavailable.

  3. https://www.nium.com/resources/understanding-the-four-major-hurdles-of-global-b2b-payments

  4. https://truehost.com.ng/challenges-of-ecommerce-in-nigeria/#:~:text=Payment%20and%20trust%20issues%3A&text=Many%20Nigerians%20lack%20access%20to,payment%20platforms%20are%20gaining%20traction.

  5. https://csa-research.com/Blogs-Events/CSA-in-the-Media/Press-Releases/Online-Shoppers-Rarely-or-Never-Buy-from-English-only-Websites

  6. https://nationaleconomy.com/e-commerce-in-nigeria-a-case-of-trust-and-security/