Key Points:

  • Worldwide eCommerce accounted for US$3.53 trillion in 2019 and is projected to grow to US$6.54 trillion by 2023
  • Identifying target markets is one way to unlock international expansion success
  • Your international eCommerce strategy may begin as simple as translating your website into the local language or it might involve completely redesigning your website into a format that works within that market

eCommerce has turned the world into a global marketplace. Now, getting products from across the world is just a click away. International expansion has transformed the world economy by tightening global ties to form a network where items and money move seamlessly across borders. The industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year and has become a major contributor to the global economy.

These days, international expansion is not a luxury. It’s crucial to sustaining economies and markets around the world. If you look closely, international eCommerce has played a major role in rescuing frail economies and turning them into promising markets. The growth of global eCommerce has been phenomenal and this is only set to grow and should be one of the key factors to consider when expanding your business internationally.

Statistics indicate that worldwide eCommerce accounted for US$3.53 trillion in 2019. This figure is projected to grow to US$6.54 trillion by 2023. This estimated increase in the value of global eCommerce proves that the industry is here to stay.

For every online business, getting into the global eCommerce market should be a key priority. This is easier said than done. You’ll need to do a lot of research and planning before you can make the leap and be a successful global online retailer. In order to get you started, we’ve rounded up some useful tips to help you take your business global.

Table of Contents

What Are the Steps in Entering International Markets?

In order to scale your business globally, eCommerce merchants should follow these steps to grow their business.

Understand and identify target markets

International eCommerce selling is a must for all online retailers. Of course, this is a very broad goal, and in reality, most retailers simply won’t be able to sell to every country. That’s why you need to do some research and be very specific about your target markets by identifying the regions where your products and brand will perform. Evaluate different markets around the world and understand their consumers and demographics before making the decision to take your brand there. Don’t be hasty, and don’t just look at the figures. Dig deep to figure out what products are most popular in your target markets and decide whether that market will actually be feasible and profitable for you.

Make sure your website is made for local audiences

Every country and region has its own idiosyncrasies thus making international eCommerce expansion tricky. For example, a website design that works in the US might be difficult for Japan. To be successful, you should use a different website that works specifically within the Japanese market. Your international eCommerce strategy may begin as simple as translating your website into the local language or it might involve completely redesigning your website into a format that works within that market.

You could even take this one step further by getting a local domain name for your website. This will market it far easier for the market to use your website and increase their confidence in your brand, leading to more growth for your business. Similarly, you shouldn’t overlook currency conversions. Many eCommerce platforms have adapted to the rapidly growing international landscape and allow for multiple currencies to be displayed. Implementing this strategy will offer a more personalized experience for local customers.

Local market experience

Identifying target markets is not the only action to guarantee success. You need to survey each market and understand which strategies work best within each one. Some markets are more volatile than others, so understanding the local dynamics is very important. Every market responds differently to different techniques, so before you launch in a new country, do a thorough survey and create a localized marketing plan. For example, some markets may prefer social media marketing, while others respond better to telemarketing.

Similarly, you’ll need to consider local purchasing trends. This could involve sale seasons, holiday rushes, and monthly sales peaks. All of this information can be gathered by people who have local market experience. Run a few surveys, hire a big data analytics company, or find some other way to properly understand local consumer habits and behaviors.

Use acceptable payment methods

Each market will have its own preferred payment methods and it’s important that you work with these preferences. In some countries, customers might prefer to pay through bank transfers; in others, credit cards and online services may be the payment method of choice.

In Japan, for example, when people make online purchases, they will usually get an order number that they can take to a brick-and-mortar outlet to make payments and collect their orders. Similarly, in many Southeast Asian countries, cash on delivery is the most common method of payment. Understanding and offering the most popular local payment methods will help you drive sales and be more successful in each market.

Efficient and supportive shipping solutions

Efficient shipping is the backbone of an online retail business. This is especially true for international eCommerce. Being able to handle eCommerce international shipping properly is the key to global success. Shipping rates for international shipping can be expensive, however, if you understand the process and choose the correct courier, you can keep these as low as possible and maintain a good profit margin. Shipping companies like Easyship can help you address this problem. Our platform offers a range of smart global shipping solutions.

Adopt suitable technology

eCommerce is very dependent on technology, which is why adopting the most appropriate and latest technological developments is crucial to your success as an online retailer. Of course, your technology should be the industry standard, at a minimum. You need the correct inventory management system, order management system, data security system, and customer service system for your business to run smoothly. In addition, all your systems should be connected to offer a seamless service.

On another note, your website also needs to use the latest technology to offer the best customer experience. Of course, you should already be optimizing your website according to SEO best practices to get the best results. Additionally, your website should load quickly and offer a good user experience. You should also make it mobile-friendly so that more customers can use it. However, to stay one step ahead of the competition, your website should also offer the technology of the future. This could mean many things but right now, this includes using chatbots with AI technology to improve customer service.

Localized warehouse management

The most efficient way to sell overseas is to make the whole process as local as possible. This especially applies to any part of the process where you may be able to save costs. Warehousing and order fulfillment are the best examples of this. You can cut your operating costs dramatically by using a local warehouse. Similarly, fulfilling orders will be cheaper if you can find local solutions. The important thing to remember is to choose wisely. Since you won’t be there to physically oversee everything, you need to find efficient, cost-effective warehouses and fulfillment services that have good reputations.

If you’re engaging in international eCommerce selling, issues of all kinds are inevitable. Online fraud is one example. You will find fraud problems popping up everywhere and should take steps to prevent it. First of all, you need a system that’s capable of differentiating between real customers and fraudulent ones. Secondly, you’ll need to understand the cyber laws of each country in which you’re operating. This will help you handle any legal issues you might face - like fraud. If necessary, get in touch with the relevant local authority to get a better understanding of the laws and who to contact in the case of fraud.

Understand the taxation and custom restrictions

As great as it would be, eCommerce international shipping isn’t a simple case of selling your product and shipping it to your customer. Since your products will be going across national borders, you will have to understand the customs regulations in both the origin and destination countries.

Customs, duties, and taxes are applied to every item that leaves or enters a country. However, many countries have free-trade agreements in place to allow certain items to be shipped duty-free. Make sure you know which category your items fall into. In addition, many countries apply GST; most European countries also impose VAT. You should be aware of which of these taxes apply to your goods and shipments.

All countries also have a list of prohibited and restricted items thatyou should be aware of before you think about shipping. In the case of prohibited items, you simply won’t be able to sell in that country. However, for restricted items, you may need to get a license from the local authorities before you can begin shipping to that particular country.

Around the clock customer services

Another challenge you may face is providing good customer service to international customers. Due to time differences and language barriers, providing 24/7 customer service in local languages may be difficult. Fortunately, you can usually handle this with chatbots and third-party customer service companies like call centers. You could also hire local customer service teams to handle daytime queries and get remote customer service teams to handle night time calls. The important thing to understand here is that round-the-clock customer service is crucial to successful international eCommerce.

Handling international returns

Returns are part of any international eCommerce business. You will never be able to get rid of them completely. The best you can do is handle them properly. Make sure you have a good policy for returns that is explicitly stated on your website. This way, the customer is always aware of your return policy before they make a purchase. Additionally, local fulfillment centers can be very helpful in handling returns.

Distributor cooperation

In order to take your online business global, you will need a good network of cooperative distributors who really understand your company. This is because you will need to rely on them to help you manage your local inventory. Build a good relationship with each of your distributors and discuss your needs with them. You need to know that you will have their cooperation to manage inventory, especially around big sales events and holiday rushes like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Boxing Day.

Get in touch with local influencers

Social media is a key facet of global expansion for online businesses. Every social media platform has influencers that can help you market your products in each region. Influencer marketing can be much more useful than any other online marketing strategy. That’s because local influencers are trusted by local buyers and many potential customers turn to them for product suggestions.

Reach out to influencers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to promote your products and give positive feedback. Of course, as well as social media marketing, you should also be doing paid ads and content (like a blog) for a complete e-marketing strategy.

Don’t overlook the importance of mobile commerce

Mobile commerce is an important part of international eCommerce and the global economy and will be even more important in the coming years. Mobile apps are all the rage and have become a must-have for eCommerce retailers. A mobile-friendly website is a must, but having a mobile app for your store will put you in another league and catapult you far ahead of the competition.

Smartphone usage has increased exponentially, especially among the younger generation. Shopping on smartphones has increased tenfold, too. Mobile commerce is responsible for a major chunk of the global economy. Over 50% of online shoppers make purchases on their mobile and mobiles sales amounted to nearly US$6 billion over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in 2019. Use this to your benefit by reaching a larger audience with a mobile app, especially if your target market includes younger people.

Understand your competition

Another important factor in international eCommerce is the competition. You need to research and understand your competitors in each market. Evaluate their value proposition and find any gaps in their business that you can fill. Of course, it’s most important that you identify any mistakes that they’re making and avoid doing the same.

If you want to test the waters before jumping in, use online selling platforms to see what you’re up against. It can be tough to successfully navigate the international market, but you have the best chance of staying ahead of the game by analyzing your competitors.

Go Global with These International Expansion Tips!

If you want your online business to remain successful in the coming years, you’ll need to expand into the global market. However, to do this successfully, you need to put in the time to do some serious planning and research. The tips in this post will help you understand what the most important factors of international eCommerce are.

Easyship can be your trusted partner for international expansion. We have great eCommerce solutions for the global market, and with more than 250 shipping solutions and discounts of up to 70% off, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs. Our innovative platform brings together international and local couriers to provide feast, cheap fulfillment solutions for last-mile delivery. You can also integrate Easyship with major eCommerce platforms to streamline your business.

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