November 9 at the U.S. probably felt roughly the same to many people there as June 24 failed here at the U.K.. We had Brexit. The U.S. has Donald Trump. About half the population is fearful, the other half is elated, and the huge majority is surprised. But it happened and trade can’t stop.
I addressed, in June, how Brexit could impact my ecommerce enterprise. Like Brexit, the election of Donald Trump doesn’t change the world instantly. There’ll probably be a period of time, ideally short, where orders will fall and customers will probably be cautious about spending money. This will pass. For starters, nothing will happen until January, when Trump is inaugurated, and even then shift will require the time to ripple down to small companies. But merchants must plan for possible changes.
The dollar has slipped a bit. It might fall further. This will make it even more appealing for U.S.-based merchants to market internationally. Thus U.S. companies should make an effort and raise cross-border earnings, including new markets, but maybe after the current holiday season.
In 2017 the economies may vary. Whilst nothing is sure, the Trump administration could impose export barriers to decrease competition from non-U.S. sellers like me. This could presumably be beneficial to U.S. retailers but detrimental to U.S. customers, who would probably pay more for fewer alternatives. So a Trump presidency could temporarily assist national sales and the weaker dollar could help international sales, but only until other nations retaliate and impose their own import barriers.
For several decades, the tendency has been for more globalization. With the world shrinking and tariffs and trade barriers decreasing, merchants worldwide have enjoyed access to additional markets. Many ecommerce businesses have taken advantage of this and have become worldwide vendors. If the U.S. begins to impose trade barriers, it is going to hurt overseas sellers like me and originally benefit U.S. sellers.
Many nations could wait to retaliate against U.S. trade barriers, enabling U.S. merchants to sell without impediment. With time, however, a growing number of countries will retaliate. This could occur in various ways. By way of instance, the U.S. could reduce agreed-upon environmental, security, and other criteria, according to Trump. This would make those U.S. products not exportable to, say, the E.U., which imposes these criteria.
Moreover, trade barriers will inevitably increase import costs for producers and thus prices will rise. We’ve already seen that with Brexit, together with the weak pound. U.S. makers will probably have a double strike from a weaker dollar and trade barriers. So after a couple of years, all this could damage ecommerce sales for U.S. merchants and push up prices and reduce choice for U.S. consumers.
U.S. merchants should therefore review their stock and attempt to lessen their dependence on products that rely on imports. Similarly, U.S. merchants should increase their stock of goods less likely to incur international trade hiccups. The key is to predict which items which will be.
For me, in England, my main concern is that I’m forced to charge sales tax for U.S. orders, and then finally pay this tax to each of the applicable U.S. authorities. No amount of playing with stock will mitigate this. If it happens, most of my opponents and I will probably stop selling in the U.S.. This is my 2018 or 2019 worry.
To offset this, I will look to expand my sales into the rest of the world. Canada seems appealing, as does Australia and New Zealand.
I guess that Trump’s election, like Brexit, will have quite a long time before it affects daily enterprise. Even then, the area of the change might be far less than feared. It is, however, better to plan for the worst and diversify, thus reducing the threat.