Top 3 International E-Commerce Tips for Start-ups

16 January, 2020

If you're looking at other e-commerce businesses and wondering how they're breaking into the international market, then this article is for you. As the internet continues to forge new pathways for sellers to reach global audiences, more services are becoming available to help support international trade and efficient cross-border delivery of goods. If you're a start-up with big plans for the future, e-commerce on a global scale may be within your reach quicker than you think. We have the top tips to help prepare you for the jump.

#1 Get your shipping right

The most significant concerns your customers are going to have when ordering from you are:

  • How fast can you get their purchase to them?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • What kind of service and support do you offer around the shipment process?

A sure-fire way to put off an international buyer is by piling on excessive shipment fees, being vague about the delivery times, and using unreliable couriers.

What your customer looks for in your shipment service:

  • A guarantee that their order will be delivered safely – they'd like to get their product in mint condition. Offer assurance that any fragile items are adequately packaged and that the shipping company you use takes every precaution to deliver the item as promised.
  • Show the correct shipping fees for their region – display accurate shipment prices or offer an efficient call back service that calculates the best price for the customer before they agree to go through with the purchase. Alternatively, provide a flat rate that eliminates confusion.
  • Have a returns policy – most customers want to know if you accept returns and what the protocol for that process is. It may be worth your while to partner up with a third-party service provider that can collect damaged or unwanted purchases and handle the refund and customer support elements on your behalf.
  • Be clear about customs - check if taxation applies to your particular product and either absorb the cost in your pricing or be sure to specify that your customer may have to pay an added fee. Transparency is key.

#2 Make payment easy

People get funny about money, especially on the internet. Although many of us are accustomed to making one-click purchases online and sharing our banking details with websites, we are still somewhat cautious about the portals we use and the data we divulge. Online scams are as prevalent as ever, so offering your customers peace of mind is probably one of the determining factors in their purchasing decision process.

Make sure you offer a payment portal that consumers in that region recognise and trust. You'll need to enable your website with the appropriate payment processing facility, whether that's PayPal, bank transfer or credit card payment. Be sure to investigate the region thoroughly and provide a trustworthy payment method.

Also, remember that different countries operate in different currencies. Be sure to display your prices in the currency your customers want to pay in – this prevents confusion and simplifies the purchase decision-making process.

#3 Do your research – know your target market

Your local target market may not exactly mirror your international target market. That's because there are cultural, social and political factors which may affect how your potential customers respond to certain kinds of advertising and marketing. Before you invest in a big outreach campaign, be sure to do your homework and qualify your new destination as a realistic and lucrative market for your product and industry.

Tailor your marketing

Gaining a good understanding of the region, its customs, colloquialisms, and trends will help you to formulate an effective localised promotional strategy. This enables you to get the word out about your product using the most effective channels and methods for that country.

Establish feasibility

Check that your product is actually affordable to the international consumers you are targeting. With exchange rates and fluctuating economies to consider, you need to be sure that you can turn a profit on your investment without slashing your mark up and devaluing your product just to tap into a new region.

Check that localising will be affordable

Cost is a huge factor for all start-ups. When branching out into a new market, some things can quite easily be templated from your domestic model. However, depending on the nature of your product, refocusing your campaign and strategy for a market with an entirely different language and set of customs may be stretching your budget a little too far at the moment. In most cases, you'll have to translate all of your labels and advertising as well as facilitate customer support in the language of your customer. To achieve this, you may need to partner with a local third party distributor who can handle the load on your behalf. Naturally, there will be a cost for this service.

If you're excited to embark on your international e-commerce journey, it pays to keep good company. We've helped hundreds of businesses take those first tentative steps in expanding outside of their domestic markets, and we continue to support them as they grow. We are experts in providing international mailing services to over 220 destinations worldwide and offer a wide variety of services specifically tailored for businesses looking to establish an international presence. If you'd like to learn more about Asendia's International Mailing Services, click here.

If you'd like to learn more about Asendia's International Mailing Services, click below.