Technology makes it easy to reach people globally but global business operations require careful research, planning and preparation. If you are confident that that going global is right for your e-commerce business, here are some steps you need to take.
- Research international markets
Selling in a global market requires doing some research into potential customers and their buying behavior. If you already have some international customers buying your products, you could expand your reach into these markets, even if you just test out selling certain products.
If you want to sell to consumers in China, WPIC advises that it makes sense for you to establish a presence on its most popular e-commerce platform. Tmall, operated by the Alibaba group, helps simplify the brand experience for your new customers by reducing licensing requirements, up-front logistics costs, and approval times.
You will need to find out whether you need a business license or other documentation to do business in other countries. Export.gov offers such information to businesses wanting to sell internationally.
- Plan your market entry
When you enter a new market, you have various options. You could partner with an established e-commerce platform. Using an e-commerce platform can often give you a wider reach at a low cost.
Choose a platform your target market uses and make sure it allows you to customize location settings. Factors like language, prices and shipping rates change depending on the location and it helps if this happens automatically.
You can also choose the slightly more challenging option and that is to optimize your current website for international customers. You could even set up a local web presence in the countries where you want to sell.
- Gather a globally-minded team
Getting brand recognition in a foreign country will require specialized marketing. A marketing team that’s knowledgeable about international markets will be aware of the challenges. For example, marketing channels popular in some countries are unknown in others. Failing to use the right marketing channels could impact your reach and slow down growth.
The demographics, audience needs and preferences in foreign countries will be different. Your team must have an understanding of the culture and consumer behavior of target markets. Hiring local help in markets where you want to sell could ensure that marketing messages are more effective.
- Develop a fulfillment strategy
One of the major problems international brands experience is ensuring a consistent customer experience. Fulfilling international orders is different from fulfilling domestic orders and you may want to use suppliers located in a country to do this. This will cut down on shipping time which is an important factor for online shoppers.
You will need to find trustworthy partners all over the world to make sure your customer service is top-notch. You will also need to think about how you will accept payments. Choosing a global payment provider that allows you to list products in a number of currencies and offers good security is a good option.
- Track your progress
If your brand name is unknown in a foreign market, selling there can be a risk. Tracking the numbers is extremely important to know whether the expansion is paying off or not.
Sales numbers are an obvious metric but other metrics like website traffic and repeat buyers can help you to find out whether you are gaining traction. It can take some time for you to start seeing results but as long as you do your research and offer an excellent customer experience, you have every chance of being successful.