Study the ecosystem of your target country
- Investigate the competition and opportunities: Whether international or in your home country, competition is one of the first things to consider when launching an ecommerce site. Many factors may vary from your home market, including the total market size for your products, the price, the purchasing power of the local population, etc. Spare a thought for distance, too. No man is an island, but the United Kingdom is, so if your stock is centralised in the UK, consider the logistics challenge.
- Legality and fiscality: We might be able to play with words, but we don?t suggest you play with international laws. It?s not just about sales ? opening abroad comes with new rules, not just laws and tax implications but customer service prerequisites too.
Logical logisticsWhen starting out, focus on products that are easy to export. Weight is clearly an important criterion ? the lighter the load, the cheaper the shipping, this will help you to stay competitive. Some items from your catalogue will not be competitive with what?s available in your target country so it?s not worth your while putting them forward. Select the ?right? area: It?s probably advisable to limit yourself to Europe to start off. As we?ve already seen, it?ll be easier, legally, logistically and to manage your inventory. (2) Get your shop in order You?ve done your research, created an international development strategy, now it?s time to put it all into action and start selling in your new markets.
Adapt your prices and offersAn international adventure will also involve making changes to offers and means of payment. Payment habits differ in every country ? in the Netherlands 60 per cent of payments are made by direct debit, while in the Czech Republic, 50 per cent of transactions are cash upon delivery. To succeed internationally, you need to consider local payment expectations and habits.
Customer support and potential returnsYou already know the importance of quality customer service and there?s no reason for your international customers to receive anything but your best. Reassuring site visitors is perhaps even more important when you become international. Spare a thought for time zones too, for timely responses to customer service queries. If you want to retain your customers, being able to support them in their own language is also a major plus. (3) Spread the word Your development strategy is in place, your site is multilingual and every detail is covered to the nth degree ? now you need to market and promote your site.
Use a little marketplace magicTo create an international following, what better place to start than marketplaces? To gain greater visibility, you generally can?t go wrong with the old favourites, Amazon and eBay. If you create a European account with Amazon you can publish your catalogue on every European version of the site.
SEO firstAn international presence will mean reworking your SEO. Be aware that associations may vary from one country to another. Some search terms can give great results in one country and turn up nothing in the next. So use the Google Keywords tool that lets you identify links between keywords and implement new strategies
A social media presence to seal the dealSpreading your wings and going global also involves putting some time into, the now inescapable, social media networks. Translating your pages (professionally) will be proof that you?re present and ready to progress in your new market, another way of gaining potential customers trust and spreading news of your brand?s arrival. Marc Schillaci is CEO and Founder of Actinic
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