5 Easy Steps to Expand Your Online Business Internationally
International ecommerce markets are growing and that means increased opportunity for online retailers to expand their businesses. Technology makes it easy to reach customers all over the world with just a few clicks of the mouse, but the actual operations of an international online business can be challenging. Becoming a global business takes planning and careful implementation of new practices.
To help expand your business into foreign markets, we’ve put together a list of five steps you need to know.
#1 – Research International Markets
There is no doubt about it, you have to do homework before selling in international markets– learn about your new potential customers, what types of products they will buy, and what their buying behavior is like. You can gather some information by checking your current customer database to see if there are already some international buyers in the mix. If you do, gather market research in the areas where they live since you already have success in that region. There are also many tools available to help you with research. Try the following sites to get started:
#2 – Handle Legal Needs
Once you’ve established the foreign locales to sell in, obtain the appropriate documentation to do business in those countries. You may have to obtain a business license for the specific countries or other documentation to be compliant legally. Again, this will require some research. Different countries have different requirements. Export.gov has some good information about legal considerations when selling internationally.
#3 – Develop a Fulfillment Strategy
Next, come up with an order fulfillment plan. Fulfilling international orders is different than doing so domestically. You may want to consider using suppliers that are located in the countries where you sell to simplify the process. This will cut down on shipping time, which is a big deal for online shoppers. Alibaba is one of the largest online suppliers and they partner with importers and exporters in 200 countries. TradeKey, Kompass and Global Sources are good sources for directories of global suppliers.
Additionally, as part of the fulfillment process, find shipping providers that are local to the areas where you sell. Researching local shipping providers will help determine what is best for both you and your customers.
#4 – Set Competitive Pricing
Pricing for online stores is always a challenge. You have to be competitive but also make a profit. It’s no different when selling internationally, but it requires knowledge of what pricing is like in the countries where you plan to sell.
The main consideration is knowing how people value their money in the areas you plan to sell products. For example, spending $50 for an online purchase in the U.S. may be normal, but for a buyer in India, $50 may be a bigger portion of the buyer’s income so they may not be able to afford it.
The key to successful international pricing is adjusting your prices in different markets to stay competitive locally. This might mean certain products can be sold in certain areas because it just isn’t profitable.
#5 – Market Products for Local Audiences
Marketing for international sales also has to be localized. You may be selling in areas where you must reach buyers who don’t speak English. Even though you may have various detailed photos of products in your listings, many non-English speaking consumers will not buy products from sites they cannot read. That means you need to provide foreign customers with websites and marketing that are in their native languages. Companies like Interpro Translation Solutions can help you with multilingual marketing.
Final Thoughts on International ecommerce Expansion
Even though selling online internationally can be challenging, it’s a business decision that is worth making. There are endless opportunities and being successful isn’t as hard as you may think. Following the above steps, doing research, and coming up with solid strategies for marketing and fulfillment, will help your global expansion.
ecomdash is an inventory and order management software for online retailers. They focus on providing small to medium-sized businesses with actionable tips and strategies for building a lucrative ecommerce business.