Running an E-commerce site gives a business owner an advantage when it comes to preparation for international export. Globalization has created an atmosphere of easy internationalization, of which companies today are quick to take advantage. It’s true more and more businesses are thinking globally, and it’s time for you to start as well. But how do you get started in transforming your E-commerce into a global entity?
How to Export your E-Commerce
There are 5 basic steps to exporting your E-commerce. You can follow and tweak them as needed to best fit your business:
1. Do your homework
The first step is choosing the country or countries you want to target. You’re not alone in your research, there are plenty of resources to help you along the way. The best idea is to contact local marketing companies specialized in your domain and/or the market of the country you’re targeting.
Research those markets and analyze your product carefully to see if it would translate easily into that culture. If not, are there easy tweaks to make to your process to make it translate? Is there a good enough market demand for your product? What is the competition like and where is your advantage in relation to theirs?
2. Make a step-by-step plan of attack
The next step is to create a logical plan on how you will launch in this new market. Will your supply chain accommodate a foreign market, and what would be the most optimized and cost effective way to work your logistics towards export? Be realistic with what your company is capable of.
Regulations and taxes will be tricky, but there are several resources available to help with that and there is a wealth of information available online. Additionally, third party logistics companies are a good way to export your products without having to set up warehouses, or ship everything from the USA. This can make the process much easier, as those companies are already familiar with the target market, consumer trends, delivery options, and often, regulations.
Your plan should be flexible, while firm: you want to be able to adapt it to similar markets in other target countries with relatively little disruption, but maintain its deadlines. A comprehensive step-by-step plan will allow you to take all of this into consideration and best optimize your efficiency. Always consider your expectations, risks, and always have a plan B.
3. Get your website ready
How modern is your website and how difficult would it be to get it ready for export? You should be thinking about getting your website translated, or better, having a version of your website in a foreign language. This is a crucial step to getting your E-commerce site ready, and it can make or break your venture into foreign markets. You have to get it right, and GoogleTranslate isn’t going to cut it- it’s best to have it done by experts, which ensures that your site will include the linguistic nuances that your customers would find on a site based in their country. Getting expert help will also help with SEO referencing, which can be amplified by the use of targeted ads.
Will your prices be shown in dollars, or will you incorporate geolocation into your site to automatically show your prices in the currency relevant to the end user? For your customers, it’s easier to make an informed purchase when the currency is shown in something that they can understand. Keep in mind that your prices (especially for European customers) should show the final price with taxes included.
For legal reasons, text regarding customs information should be included on your site, with a clear definition of your shipping and returns policy. This prevents any confusion from your customers, builds credibility with your customers, and protects you in the long run. Another good tip is to look at websites similar to your E-commerce that are based in your target country and compare those sites to yours.
4. Start Marketing
Your E-commerce site’s natural SEO activity will likely take some time before it kicks in, so you need to let your customers know that you’re open for business in a website near them! An easy way to do this is via social media campaigns, which are generally cheap to use. Google Adwords allows for easier Google referencing by buying your way to the first search result, and can provide an essential boost until your E-commerce starts to appear naturally in relevant search results. Facebook ads allow you to appropriately target potential customers based on their buying habits, age, location, income, political beliefs, etc. For B2B (business to business) products and services, LinkedIn Ads might be a better bet as far as ads are concerned.
If you’ve done your homework properly, you will have a profile of the type of customer that you need to target and you can start doing tests. At first, a wide net can be cast- your target customer might not be the same as your target in a different culture. Google analytics can be a fantastic tool for seeing your E-commerce site’s traffic visually, and help you optimize your site to keep your customers on longer, and buying more.
Your market strategy should be local: approach your customers on their terms. You should tailor your marketing so that it will resonate with customers as if it were a local business. Know their holidays, their peak buying times, and cater your marketing around that. What “just a Tuesday” is in the USA could be an important opportunity in your target market.
5. Tests and Targets
It’s time to go live and test your E-commerce in the target market. You need to see if the customer base behaves as per your expectations from market research. How do foreign customers react to your product? How do they use it? Use the information that you gain in the first few months to your advantage, and optimize your E-commerce process accordingly. No bit of information is too small or insignificant.
Exporting can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. By getting organized early with the plan of exporting in the back of your mind, it can be relatively simple. There is a good amount of preparation to do in the beginning, but the more that you prepare and the more you research, the more smooth your venture into foreign markets will go. Marketing is integral to your success, and the better you know your market, the easier it will be to tell your customers why they want your product. There are a lot of concepts to consider when exporting, but if you research correctly, and use the resources available for US businesses, you can be just as successful abroad as you are at home-or even more!