What are the Steps in Entering International Markets?
The very first step of running a successful eCommerce store is to get recognition all across the globe. Understand that the world is your oyster and it is important gaining access to the international eCommerce industry. But the thing is grass always looks greener on the other side. Starting out as a newbie or rookie in the international market can be a delirious process.
Before you can make the jump to become a successful multinational online retailer, you’ll need to do a lot of homework and planning. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of helpful hints to help you expand your company internationally.
1. Identify And Analyse Your Target Markets
The very first step towards expanding your eCommerce store is to identify and understand your target markets. International selling is indeed a huge goal and the truth is, most retailers give up on this idea even before getting started. For this reason, it’s always better to get started by doing some solid research and narrowing down your target markets. All you need to do is identify the regions within the countries where your products or services are more likely to perform. Compare and evaluate different markets in different countries across the globe before taking your eCommerce store there. Don’t rush and make decisions on the basis of some outdated stats on the internet. Instead, dig deeper, perform thorough research to determine what are the most popular products in your selected target markets. Be very mindful in deciding whether or not a market will be profitable and feasible for your business.
2. Localise Your Website As Per Your Target Audience
International eCommerce expansion is challenging mainly because each country has its own peculiarities. For instance, a US-based website may be difficult to understand and navigate for a Japanese visitor and vice-versa. So, if you want to deal with international audiences, you’ll have to make your website familiar to each one of them. Now, the big question is, how??
Here is your answer, Translation!
It’s a simple but effective strategy to simplify your website for the international audience. All you need to do is to translate your website into the local language of the targeted audience. If you can afford it, you can even choose to redesign the entire website according to the target markets. However, we suggest sticking to the former ( i.e translation) way so that you can target multiple countries at once, easily.
You can even take this one step ahead by purchasing a local domain name for your site. This will not only help you in gaining the trust of your target audience but will also increase your performance at a faster rate. Moreover, add FAQ and Policy pages that are properly translated. Make sure that all of their policy questions are answered in their native tongue. Customers should have a good view of the terms you’re selling, with no room for misunderstanding or ambiguity that might lead to issues later.
3. Offer Multiple Payment Options
Each country or region has its own preferences when it comes to payment methods. Hence, it’s very important to keep in mind those preferences while deciding your payment methods. For example: in some regions, people prefer using bank transfers, while in a few others, online wallets and credit cards are given more preference.
Just so you know, most countries including a few in Southeast Asia still prefer cash on delivery options more than prepaid orders. So, make sure to include this option for all the countries or regions you’re planning to take your store in. Studies have shown that prepaid payment options from a less-known website are less likely to be trusted by the local customers. So, having a cash-on-delivery option will help you in gaining the trusts of the local audiences.
As far as the payment methods are concerned, a good idea is to use the ones that are most common in your target area. You can also include international payment methods such as PayPal.
Offering the most preferred payment options will allow you to drive more sales and maximise your profits in each market.
5. Offer Efficient Shipping Services
An efficient shipping policy is the backbone of an eCommerce business. This becomes even more important when talking about international retailing. If you want to attain success in international markets, have an efficient shipping service. The main off-putting deal for the customers is the fact that international shipping charges are very high. But you can work this around by understanding the shipping process and choosing your shipping partners mindfully. There are many companies that offer global shipping services in a speedy manner and at low-rates.
6. Localise Your Inventory Management
The key to getting success at international retailing is localising the process as much as it’s possible. This not only helps you in cutting cost but also helps in building a sense of trust in the local customers. This is especially applicable when talking about warehouse management. You can save a huge amount of money by selecting a local warehouse. In the same way, handling and processing the orders will be much cheaper with the availability of local inventories. But this is not as easy as it sounds. While you’ll be able to save money and time, you’ll have to monitor the process very carefully because you’ll not be physically available at the location. This is where having a remote warehouse management service comes into play. So, select a trusted, efficient and cost-effective warehouse service.
7. Learn And Understand The Custom Restrictions And Taxation
As we already discussed, international shipping is not as easy as it sounds. It’s never like shipping your product and getting it delivered to a given address. Because your products will be travelling and crossing the national borders, you must be well aware of the customs regulations of your as well as the destination country.
Taxes or customs duties are applied to each and every item that enters or leaves a county. However, many countries have free-trade policies that allow specific items to be shipped with any custom duty. So, it’s your duty to check the customs regulations and trade policies of countries you’re intended to ship. Further, make sure to learn and understand the taxes imposed in different countries. For example, GST and VAT are the common taxes imposed in the majority of countries.
Moreover, each country has a list of restricted and prohibited items that can’t be imported or exported to or from another country. So, make sure your items don’t fall into this category. In case your product is prohibited, you won’t be able to sell it in that country. Further, you can sell a few restricted products by availing of a license from the local authorities.
8. Simplify Your International Return Policy
Let’s face it. Returns are a part of every national or international retail business. You just can’t satisfy each and every customer out there. There will be customers who’ll not be satisfied with your products and hence they’ll look for a quick and hassle-free return policy. Having a simplified return policy will serve two major benefits. First, it will help you to drive more sales by taking the customers in confidence that they can return the product if it’s not up to their expectations. Secondly, it will offer you to hook your customers for future sales. On the other hand, the absence of a return policy can have a negative impact on your business. Customers may become reluctant to spend money on your products.
9. Collaborate With Local Influencers
Social media is the key to make your global expansion successful. If you’re not new to online businesses, then you may already know that social media platforms have the biggest pool of target audiences. These are the best places to find and target your right audience.
The leading social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok etc. are taken over by the so-called social media influencers. These folks have millions of users following them and their trends. For this reason, influencer marketing is at its peak. So, the best idea is to get in touch with the local social media influencers of your target country and have your products marketed by them. Because the local influencers are trusted by the local customers, they can help you in selling your product by increasing its market value.
10. Understand Your Competition
If you want to stand out in the global eCommerce business, you’ll have to beat your international competitors. For that, first, you need to identify who your competitors are, what are they doing to stand out in the business. This can be done by researching the market thoroughly and evaluating the performance of the businesses running better than you. More than focusing on success, pay attention to the mistakes made by your competitors. This will help you to avoid those mistakes and outperform all the rivals.
11. Pay Attention To The Mobile ECommerce
Mobile eCommerce is one of the biggest parts of the eCommerce niche and there is absolutely no doubt to that. People these days are handling everything from their smartphones, whether it is paying bills, taking online classes, attending meetings and most importantly shopping. No buyer will think of a product and will wait until he boots his laptop and then goes on to order it. Simply put, a big majority of people in the world prefer to use their mobile phones for shopping. And this reason is enough to make your website mobile-friendly.
But if you want to go to the next level, consider having a user-friendly and easy to use mobile application.
In fact, in this cutting-edge competition, you should definitely have a great mobile app to facilitate your buyers to shop from anywhere and anytime.
It is important to understand that handling eCommerce stores globally is not going to be a cakewalk. You might face legal issues like fraud and all. So, you must keep yourself prepared for the worst. The very first thing you need to do is setting up a system that can differentiate between genuine or fake customers. We know that can be a little difficult but with the time you will get the sense to identify one. However, if you find yourself in such situations as fraud, then you must know the laws of that particular country very well to deal with it in a smart way. If at any point, you find it difficult to deal with a situation alone, then hire an expert. Better to go with local authorities who understand the system very well.
13. Offer Quick And Reliable Customer Support
This is a major challenge faced by businesses while dealing with international audiences. Due to language barriers and time differences, offering 24/7 customer support to international customers is very challenging. But thankfully, there are many third-party services and tools like chatbots that can allow you to handle and respond to the queries of your customers in an effective way. You can either work with a local call centre or hire a local customer service company to handle the calls of your global customers.
14. Distributor cooperation
Remember that, the successful eCommerce store owner has a back of cooperative distributors. So, if you are planning to set foot in another country, you have to reach out to the local distributors. Not just this, you’ll need a strong network of multinational distributors who genuinely understand your organisation to take your online business globally. It is important because you’ll need their assistance in handling the local inventory. Try to establish a positive interaction with each of your distributors and talk to them about your requirements. You need to know that you’ll have their help handling inventory, especially during major sales events and seasonal bursts like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, etc.
What Tools You Might Need to Expand Your Business to Multiple Countries?
Now, you need to understand, you can’t do all the things on your own. It is totally okay if you take little assistance here and then. Here in this segment, we hunkered down some tool that can help you in setting up your store in different countries. However, not forget to take local assistance from the person who is running a successful store in the region.
- Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools:- As the name speaks volume, this tool helps you with all kinds of translation. These tools are widely used by outside business owners because they help to keep specific words and phrases consistent on the web.
- Translation Management Systems (TMS):- Now you might need a translation management tool because to be very honest we can’t master the local languages. And to deal with vendors or customers, you need to be on top of the local language. This tool is used to handle the project side of localisation. TMS helps you to extend localisation to various suppliers and workflows, which is one of the most essential features.
- Term Base:- The other great tool in our list is Term Base. This is a basic localisation resource. It means that the right terms are used for each expression. When interpreting, this aids consistency and significance. It’s also a helpful tool for ensuring continuity.
- Google Trend:- One of the best tools is Google Trend. It keeps you updated about the country trend. The best part is, it is free of cost. You can know all about the country market related to your product without any difficulty. Let’s for instance, have an eCommerce store that sells headphones and you planned to expand the business in different countries. So the very thing you need to do is analyse the global market for headphones using Google Trend. All you have to do is visit Google Trend and type headphones then it will show the trend and markets stats. Now change the countries, and voila you will get everything on your fingertip.
- Google Search Console:- The other great tool is Google Search Console, you might consider updating it according to the country you want to target. All you have to do is, visit the Google Search Console dashboard, and then head to Status > Performance report, and then to Country segmentation.
- Google Analytics:- Now if your website has sound traffic, then use Google Analytics to get the detailed report of visitors according to the geographical location. This will give you an idea of which country would be suitable for your product to sell out easily. All you have to do is go to the Audience section, then simply scroll down to the geographical region.
- Keyword Research Tools:- Now generally people forget to pay attention to the importance of keywords. You won’t stand out in the market if you’re not following the country-specific requirement. So, it is necessary to add specific keywords which are dominating the market in a particular region. That you can only do with the help of keyword research tools like Ahref, UberSuggest and much more.
- Other Things Worth Consideration:-Now, it is important to factor in SEO while setting up business outside your region. When it comes to eCommerce localisation, SEO is another significant aspect to remember. You must decide which keywords are most likely to be used by the target audience. Also if English is the local language, a search word will be phrased differently than it would be by a customer from another country.
There you have it! This is our take on the “How to Expand Your Ecommerce Store to Multiple Countries”. Know that selling products all across the globe will not bring you more sales but also give global recognition. By setting up your eCommerce store in multiple countries, you are putting yourself out there in between different cultures, countries and flavours. Remember the first step is always difficult which is why we have done all the heavy work by compiling down this amasing guide.
So, what’s stopping you now? Go and get your business passport and begin shipping your goods all over the world!
In case, we are missing anything or you have any queries, you can reach out to RVS Media for assistance.