Step 2: Get out the magnifying glass
Now that you know who's browsing your website and where in the world they are, you can dive deeper into the details of selling your product in this region.
Key considerations before you engage in trade:
- How easy is it to do business in that country? You need to research the politics, rules and regulations, available infrastructure and the internet and technology standards in that country. The more complex or underserved these crucial areas are, the harder it will be to operate your business.
- Will it be possible for you to scale your business in this region? Seemingly poorer markets, such as India, are not being overlooked by big players like Amazon. The mammoth e-commerce platform is prepared to make the long term investment in order to capitalise on this densely populated, economically flourishing region. To discern whether you too can scale up, assess existing competitors and make sure that your offering is bigger, better and of a higher standard.
- What can you realistically charge in this country? You may able to add a significant mark-up on your products domestic sales, but you need to consider how shipping and customs duties will affect the final price to foreign buyers. It may be that you have to bite into your profits and absorb some of the costs, make sure that this is something you can afford to do.
Step 3: What advantages do you have?
When entering a market, especially if it's your first cross-border step, it's best to pick the path of least resistance. By that, we mean:
- Simplify your adaption process by selling in regions that have the same first language as the country you currently operate in.
- Choose somewhere that has similar social and cultural customs to the country you currently sell in.
- Identify the market that offers you maximum competitive advantage.
Breaking into a location that puts up too many barriers could make your experience difficult and unprofitable. Your initial efforts will be centred around testing and optimising your campaigns. Avoid selecting markets that may be out of your depth in terms of the available resources you can dedicate to establishing your business in this new territory.
Key features of a localised website:
- Regionalise your presence by using a local URL. For example .fr, .com. co.za etc.
- Offer locally accepted payment methods. Many purchasers prefer to use debit cards; however, in some countries, digital payment methods are preferred. You'll have to do the research to ensure that you offer the best option. Display your prices in the currency of the country you are selling in and provide the facility to pay in this currency.
- Use culturally relevant imagery, colour schemes, fonts and graphics. For example, Dutch websites are all about white space and clean design. A busy, CTA clogged site may be off putting to customers in this area.
If you want a fantastic example of how to comprehensively offend your audience, take a leaf out of Dolce and Gabanna's advertising blunder. In poor taste, the fashion giant once made the mistake of creating and publishing an advert whereby a Chinese woman attempts to eat Italian food with chopsticks while a male narrator gives her instructions.
- Display accurate product descriptions and webpage content in the language of the visitor, ensuring correct phrasing and spelling. Don't be offensive and use translation applications for this, many companies have committed huge blunders by directly translating content. It's best to hire a professional translator for this.
Just take a look at what happened to Ford when they tried to tell their Belgian customers that "Every car has a high-quality body". By directly translating, the car manufacturer ended up telling customers that "Every car has a high-quality corpse".
Optimising for mobile:
Having an impressive desktop website for your new audience is crucial. But, it's even more important to have one that is fully functional on mobile.
Globally, 1.6 billion people shop on a mobile device. This means that your shopping cart, layout, content and overall UX has to be optimised for mobile.
Utilising local influencers?
Back in the "olden days", if you wanted to plant your flag on new soil, you'd have to send out representatives from your company to build relationships with distributors and get buy-in from local vendors. Typically, this required a sizeable initial investment and a lot of effort on your part.
Thanks to social media, however, there is a new way to win over the trust of local buyers. It's authentic, in line with inbound marketing objectives and much more cost-effective. By building positive relationships with established local influencers who are happy to share your product's benefits with their audiences, you are bringing authenticity and value to your marketing approach. Don't be surprised if your sales sky-rocket exponentially. It's essential to do your research and identify the right-fit influencer for your product. You can then strike an agreement whereby the individual reviews your product, promotes it to their audiences and incorporates effectively into your marketing campaign.
Outsourcing your entire e-commerce order fulfilment
For some businesses, this is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to get your products to consumers with minimal hassle.
Your order-fulfilment centre will be able to store your SKUs, integrate with your online sales platform and dispatch your products without you having to take on any of the infrastructural costs such as renting a warehouse, hiring a packaging and postage team and the entire suite of activities that surround implementing an in-house distribution strategy. Furthermore, such a partnership enables you to scale your business and cater to seasonal demands.