Whether your business is seeking to expand its operations overseas for the first time, hoping to expand its global footprint or bringing an existing network of international brick-and-mortar stores into the digital age, you should focus hard on your next moves. While a successful international commerce expansion is a boon to your bottom line, opening new markets and audiences, handling this process incorrectly could lead to high costs and muted return on investment.
The key to any global eCommerce strategy is to plan the move in advance, rather than making moves on the fly. Instead of attempting to chase every goal at once, your company should focus on where it wants to target for a new move, what its objectives are and how you will go about reaching the new regional audience. The resulting plans will combine best practices with effective technology use and high-level adaptability.
The following are a few of the key considerations that should go into such a strategy, one that can boost your bottom line without causing your company to lose its focus.
Discover and meet customer expectations
Expanding your eCommerce strategy to a new territory without changing it is not a recipe for success. Even creating two distinct approaches, one for domestic sales and one targeting "overseas," is likely to bring disappointment. Each territory has its own established norms, with audience expectations and preferences varying widely. Performing research about the languages consumers want to browse in, the payment options they are comfortable with and the delivery services they rely on can prepare you to face each new audience.
Multichannel Merchant contributor Amed Naiem pointed out that specializing to suit local tastes is one way an independent eCommerce site can compete with industry-leading forces such as Amazon. When your business offers payment and delivery options that make sense in a local context, you gain a potential victory over giant companies that don't have such a granular level of customization built into their models. Naiem noted approximately half of shoppers give up on a cart if they can't pay using a preferred method – your eCommerce shop should strive to have the most popular options available.
Make use of online marketplaces
One of the most important decisions you make on the path to international eCommerce success may involve a decision between using your own website and selling products on online marketplace popular in your targeted territories. Depending on the conditions you encounter, there are several potentially effective resolutions to this choice. You can begin on marketplace sites, operate both kinds of store side by side or opt for one over the other. As with currency and shipping decisions, the final choice should come down to local preferences and expectations.
Due to the relatively low overhead needed to begin listing items on an online marketplace, such a site can be especially effective as a way to determine the appeal of your products in a new territory. Beginning a new international venture in this measured way provides an opportunity to avoid losses while gathering more information. As accurate knowledge of customer preferences will play a major role in ensuring your company's success, this early trial period can shape your next steps. In some regions, where marketplaces dominate the eCommerce picture, you may be able to stick with such a strategy as a long-term solution.
Pick the right partner
When you choose your company's eCommerce platform provider, you can and should look for organizations that actively support international eCommerce and have the resources to take your business to the next level in new markets. Each third-party eCommerce partner has its own unique strengths, and if you are considering an international expansion, it pays to seek out a provider that can make that aspiration happen with little friction.
When inspecting service offerings, you can find companies that provide marketplace services, flexible website design and customer service that transcends borders. Creating a localized online presence is essential for organizations that want to maximize their appeal to shoppers in new regions. Working with an eCommerce platform provider that can't deliver this type of experience will naturally limit your ability to adapt and reach audiences.
Having a plan is the first step to international eCommerce success. Working with the right partners to carry out each step successfully will turn that plan intro reality,