The beauty of the internet is it allows companies of all sizes to compete globally. When executed effectively, an international e-commerce website can lead to a larger customer base and a substantial, sustainable profit margin every year.
However, entering an international market could be uncharted territory for your brand, so it is natural to feel hesitant when attempting to sell products overseas. To ensure your success, find out how to launch an e-commerce site in a global market.
Assess the Market Potential
While a nation might have a strong economy, it doesn’t necessarily mean your brand, products or services are the right fit for a country. Before you target a nation, you will need to assess the market potential by reviewing their existing international sales and industry growth. Doing so could prevent you from investing time and money into an unviable market.
It is imperative to make an informed decision when targeting different nations, as they will each have varying economies, consumer demand, and shipping requirements. It is an intelligent choice to visit various government and trade organization websites (WTO.org or Trade.gov) to read the latest international business and trade statistics and news.
Various internet reports and statistics companies also publish stats and facts about different countries, too, such as:
- McKinsey & Company
- Internet World Stats
There is no one size fits all approach to a global e-commerce website. Different nations will have different preferences you must consider when targeting a new demographic. For example, you must consider:
- The local language
- Your products
- Preferred payment options
- Delivery options
Never treat a continent as the same unit, as each nation will have different wants and needs, which could make or break your success.
To succeed internationally, you will need to adapt your processes. For example, most Japanese customers prefer to pay for goods with cash on delivery, as they are wary of using credit cards due to fraud or identity theft.
You might also be surprised to learn that PayPal and credit cards are not the global standard for online payments, especially outside of the West. If your customers don’t see their preferred payment option on your website, it is unlikely they will buy from your business due to a lack of trust.
You might need to integrate alternate payment options into your e-commerce website, such as:
- Bank transfers
- Cash on delivery
Set-Up Local Teams
Hiring native language speakers or local teams could be integral to your company’s success when expanding overseas. Not only will they have an in-depth understanding of the language, but they also might have extensive e-commerce and local market knowledge to help boost your sales. Alternatively, you could hire country managers to work in your head office to mitigate various risks.
Gain a Supply Chain Management Degree
International expansion can present various logistical and administrative challenges for e-commerce entrepreneurs. For example, you might struggle to gain an understanding of taxes, export duties and changes to your business structure.
To help simplify the process, acquire new international customers and develop a positive reputation across your industry, you will need a firm understanding of the global market. However, it is almost impossible to become a subject matter expert overnight.
If you are a graduate, you could embark on an online supply chain masters from Kettering University, which will provide you with a solid foundation of supply chain management, customer relationship management, procurement and risk management, plus more.
Shipping products internationally can be complex, which is why you should attempt to form partnerships in your chosen country. Aim to work with couriers who can quickly and easily ship your products to your customers at a competitive price in comparison to your in-country rivals, which can help you to build a positive reputation and lower your overheads. It is also critical to develop a transparent international returns policy to avoid confusion or disappointment.
Your Website Options
If a country is likely to provide a great return on your investment, it is a smart decision to launch a specific website for the destination. Not only will this help you to provide your local visitors with a better user experience, but it is also beneficial for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, as you will more than likely rank higher in a country’s preferred search engines.
If, however, you do not have the time or resources to do so, you will need to develop a multi-lingual website, which will ensure your target audiences can view your website in their mother tongue. To do so, you will need to use Hreflang tags to inform Google about the country your website is targeting.
Localized Marketing Campaigns
Every e-commerce entrepreneur must carefully consider each nation they target when developing a marketing campaign. For example, many major Western holidays will be viewed as a normal day in other regions.
To ensure you don’t make a cultural mistake, you must gain a thorough understanding of a country’s major holidays and culture, so you can develop promotional strategies to successfully grow your revenue and safeguard your brand’s reputation.
Consider the Host Location to Improve a Site’s Page Speed
While it is possible to successfully indicate your e-commerce website’s target market to various search engines, the hosting you choose can determine your site’s page speed at your chosen country. It is therefore essential to consider the host’s server location to ensure your local customers can quickly access your web pages. If they can’t, it could lead to a high bounce rate and a loss of custom.
Developing an international e-commerce website is not without its challenges. However, if you are willing to invest a considerable amount of time, hard work and money into growing your brand overseas, you could soon receive an excellent return on your investment.
To get started, you will need to gain an in-depth knowledge of supply chain management, international SEO, local cultures, and national preferences, which can make or break your success at your chosen destinations.