Global ecommerce is growing at a phenomenal rate – is your business missing out?
Back in 2017, retail ecommerce sales amounted to a whopping 2.3 trillion US dollars worldwide. That number is set to more than double by 2021, reaching almost $5 trillion in the next two years!
For many ecommerce businesses, large and small, entering the global market is the ultimate goal to ensure continued growth. Unfortunately, success on an international level is much easier said than done. Without an in-depth understanding of the market, amble preparation and a rock-solid strategy, your global move could be disastrous for your business.
If you’re ready to take the step from a national to a global ecommerce business, keep reading to discover our top tips.
1. Do your research
Before you dive head first into international waters, it’s important to do your homework. There’s no use taking the global plunge if you’re simply not ready for all that it entails.
Establish a demand
A review of Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner can help you get a better understanding of the search trends in different regions around the world, as well as the competition you will face. However, it’s important to go much deeper.
For obvious reasons, it’s important to determine whether you can ship your product internationally, especially if it is pharmaceutical or cosmetic, as some regions may have restrictions.
Implementing seamless logistics is crucial if you’re going to keep up with customer demands and outperform competitors. After all, if you can’t meet customer expectations, your efforts are futile. Start by stress testing your supply chain – look for ways to identify, re-evaluate and repair any points which are likely to fail under pressure.
Depending on the country you’re selling to, there are various shipping costs and fees for getting products across international borders. Ensure you factor these into your costings and how they might change in the future.
Consider payment methods
Once you have conducted your initial market research, the next step is to think about how your customers are going to pay for your products. Often, when making an international purchase, shoppers abandon their shopping cart at checkout if their preferred payment method isn’t available, for fear of security.
The preferred payment methods vary significantly depending on the country, so it’s important to know what is best for your market. For instance, the most popular payment method in Germany is by invoice, whereas in China, a large percentage of locals prefer to use Alipay – an eWallet provider exclusive to China.
2. Identify your market
You may have a clear idea of your target markets in your home country, but it may be different once you cross the borders. First things first, it’s important to determine exactly who your international customers are and how they shop.
- Should you still focus on a target customer with the same age or gender?
- Will people buy your product for different reasons?
- Will any economic factors change the way in which your product is valued?
- What is the size of your potential market?
- Do you need to market your product different due to changes in language and etiquette?
- What is the political climate – is it stable or likely to impact you and your potential customers? For example, for anybody shipping to the EU, Brexit will undoubtably impact the logistics for exports. Ensure you stay up to date with the changes and prepare for the transition in advance.
There are countless questions to ask yourself. Building a clearer picture of your target customer for each location will ensure you start off on the right foot. Once this is clear, it’s important to ask if your brand’s look and voice needs to be adjusted.
Would a new look help your brand appeal to this new audience? Taste and styles change – and some words won’t always translate. Does your brand need an overhaul?
Facebook’s Ad Tool is a great way to research your potential market, no matter how niche it might be.
3. Plan your entry
When entering a new market, there are a number of different ways you can go about it. Whichever entry point you choose, it’s important to do your research and be aware of the pros and cons of each before getting started…
Use an existing marketplace
Established marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay, can automatically give you a wider reach for a lower cost. If you’re working on a budget, this may be the best option for you. This way, you can also test the demand for your product first before committing to a site development.
Optimise your current site
If you’re looking for a slightly more advanced entry into the global marketplace, you might want to think about optimising your current website to allow international orders. To start, you could simply highlight your site’s ability to take global orders. Eventually, you could get a multi-language toggle or list products in local currencies.
Create a custom website
The most advanced way to enter the international ecommerce market is to build a new website dedicated to appealing to overseas shoppers. This may include investing in a local domain name, using the language of the area you’re targeting and researching locals’ preferred shopping methods.
4. Preparation is key
Once you’ve got a good global ecommerce strategy in place, it’s time to start planning for the big move. There are a number of things to consider before taking your business international.
How can you grow an entirely new audience? Do you understand how to attract global customers?
Make the most of social media
When it comes to expanding your audience on an international level, social media will become your new best friend. With such a wide reach, around 2.62 billion people in 2018 were active social media users, there is a huge potential to increase your reach and grow your audience.
Many of the largest global ecommerce businesses out there utilise social media to benefit their bottom line. Ikea, for instance, has dedicated Instagram pages for each country they are present in, such as in the UAE. This allows for individualised content, specific to the area a user is living in, making it easier to target certain products.
Collaborate with local influencers
One of the best ways to attract a local audience in an unfamiliar area is to collaborate with local influencers and celebrities. Influencer marketing is growing exponentially, with 92% of marketers using influencers in 2017 finding it an effective technique. So, if you can get popular local influencers on side, you’re one step closer to success.
Coca-Cola, for instance, partnered with influencers around the world for their #ThisOnesFor campaign in 2017. Footballers, travel bloggers, YouTube stars and many more were on their influencer list, helping them to reach a wider audience and gain trust from shoppers.
If you’re looking to make a quick impact, a pay-per-click campaign will help your website attract traffic from day one. PPC advertising is the perfect way to quickly generate leads and monitor the ROI.
Whilst quick results are great, it’s also important to build a presence on the local search engine of choice. Take advice from local SEOs experts and find out if your business can rise above the competition on the search engine result pages.
5. Validate the move
Just because you’ve conquered home soil, doesn’t mean it will happen worldwide. Before making the leap, test the validity of your business in new territories by:
- Talking to some potential customers – Just a quick phone call can help you understand if your product is in demand (or not).
- Creating a landing page – Create a minimal one-page version of your site and invite visitors to a pre-sale or to sign up for information. Twinned with an advertising campaign, this is a quick and easy way to test the water – and even get a few early sales under your belt.
So, now you know what goes into branching out into international ecommerce, are you ready to take the next step? While it may be challenging, the global ecommerce market is continuing to grow year after year, with overseas online sales at an all-time high.
At Bing Digital, ecommerce is our speciality. We work with businesses large and small to help them transform their website, boost their digital marketing campaigns and understand their market. If you want advice, guidance and support through your move to international ecommerce, get in touch with our team today.