The keys to success

You may be looking to extend the sales cycle of your product by shifting your focus to untapped audiences, or you may be able to offer an exclusive product to a new and lucrative market.

Whatever is inspiring you to move towards international e-commerce, the key to success lies in the strategy you formulate and the associates you partner with in order to sell and deliver your goods.
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Five key areas that your international e-commerce strategy should cover:

  • Identifying opportunities
  • Localising your website
  • Marketing to new countries
  • Establishing your shipping network
  • Providing international customer support

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IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES

The first step to your global expansion is to find international customers who share the same pain points as the ones you currently service domestically. While you're still testing the waters, you don't want to reinvent the wheel too much.

Step 1: What's your website saying?

Your website's analytics report is the best place to formulate a perspective on who is showing interest in your product. Take a look at your traffic inflow and identify which global locations are being flagged up. How many monthly visitors are you gaining and which web pages are they spending time on?

You can then segment this traffic demographically and get a better understanding of the motivating factors driving these visitors to your website.

Reasons for getting international interest:

  • Your product may not be available in that country.
  • That country's market may be limited to low-quality competitors.
  • Your product may be cheaper than what is currently sold in that country.
  • Customers are looking for brand exclusivity.
  • New and emerging trends may be driving early adopters to your product.

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:


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


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LOCALISING YOUR WEBSITE

Winning the locals over is a matter of trust. Remember, you're now approaching a buyer who is looking for familiar markers to indicate that their online shopping experience with you will be safe, secure and satisfactory.

Key features of a localised website:


  1. Regionalise your presence by using a local URL. For example .fr, .com. co.za etc.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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".
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MARKETING TO NEW COUNTRIES

Your digital marketing formula may be working in your current territory, but you may need to review your approach when entering a new market.

Changes to your marketing strategy:

  • What are the rules and regulations for digital marketing in that specific country? For example, in the EU we have GDPR rules which must be adhered to.
  • Identifying the correct keywords to target. This may require expert advice from a local SEO specialist because your current keywords and phrases may not translate or be effective in this region.
  • What social media platforms are popular and accessible to the consumer-base? For example, Facebook doesn't work in China; customers there socialise on the popular messaging app WeChat.

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.


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ESTABLISHING YOUR SHIPPING NETWORK

Here's the big one. Cross-border shipping can take the wind of your sales at the initial stages of your global expansion, either through choosing the wrong partner, incorrectly costing your shipping or using a disreputable third-party.

Customer shipping expectations:

If your new target region has a well-established goods delivery infrastructure, they are likely to have high expectations of shipping turnaround times. You need to ensure, therefore, that you can offer flexible options such as:

  • tracked delivery
  • fast delivery and value options
  • postbox collection
  • in-store collection
  • country-tracked goods

Furthermore, the cost of shipping will affect your customers rationalising of the purchase. Offering "Free Shipping" or the more transparent term, "Shipping Included" decreases the chance of your customer abandoning the shopping cart.

Does your third-party distribution partner understand the local duties and tariffs?

If you're outsourcing the entire packaging, labelling and shipping process, ensure that you engage the services of a company that can successfully get your items across the border without incurring extra costs or delaying delivery through inaccurate labelling. When selecting this partner, check whether they have experience in dealing with the particular territory and whether they have shipped similar goods to yours.

Asendia offers expert solutions that make customs clearance easy anywhere in the world. We successfully handle the complexity of delivering products to a multitude of global destinations, each being subject to unique regulations, enabling you to offload this responsibility onto us and focus on the crucial tasks of managing your business.

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.

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INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT

The key to growing a successful business is taking care of your customers. Especially in a highly competitive market where you really have to work hard to differentiate yourself, creating a positive experience for your customer is imperative.

Offering telephone or online chat support in the native language of the buyer will help to spread positive word of mouth regarding your customer care policy and help to reassure clients that you are a reliable vendor.

Accepting returns

Providing your customers with a broad range of delivery and returns options is an essential aspect of your overall customer service offering. Your international customers will expect to be able to return unwanted or damaged goods with minimal hassle. Of course, this can become complicated if the recipient has to ship the item back to your own domestic site. This is where a third-party order fulfilment partner can help to make returns and refunds easier, minimising the overall expense of such a process.

Watch this video to find out how Asendia can help you to create a positive reputation for your business with our returns management offer:

Are you ready to start formulating your international e-commerce strategy?


There are many benefits to outsourcing your e-commerce order-fulfilment and delivery, and if you're looking for a partner that can bring experience, global resources and a network of trusted international parcel services that will enable the best possible delivery strategy for your products, give one of our experts a call today.

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