Over the past decade, online shopping and e-commerce has grown to the point where 9 out of 10 people shop online at least twice a month. Retailers big and small are investing in growing their online e-commerce presence. The UK has seen a consistent year-on-year growth, with £100 billion spent online in 2014.
Once your business is well established in your own country, finding new ways of generating more revenue is a constant issue. You could introduce a new product or service, innovation, cut costs by outsourcing, or expand to foreign markets. So, what does that mean for companies that rely heavily on e-commerce? It means that they need to get the pricing right, to localise their marketing materials, and be ready to deal with enquiries from abroad.
Pricing and technical considerations
A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when you consider that each market has a unique currency, economy, and audience. The more countries you target, the more flexible your pricing strategy should be. Something that costs £200 in the UK will cost over $300 in the US – which might not be a competitive price for that market. This means making tough decisions about how to stay competitive when other competitors are selling similar products or services.
From a technical point of view, your e-commerce platform must support the most popular local online payment methods. For example: Germans prefer wire transfers, but in Japan 44% of shoppers use credit cards. In Eastern Europe, paying cash on delivery is still the most popular way of paying for goods and services which were purchased online.
Translation alone is never enough when it comes to marketing materials. It’s not just about choosing the language – getting the tone right and keeping things on brand is just as important.
One of the first things that you need to consider when entering a new market is getting a new in-country domain and website designed to accommodate that particular market. Very often your website is the first point of contact with a potential customer, a customer that you could lose if your website isn’t translated into the right language. You may decide to have one site translated into multiple languages, or individual sites with appropriate local domains (eg. *.fr, *.de) and content. Multilingual SEO should also be part of your digital strategy.
Once you’re up and running, be ready to listen to what your customers are saying. One of the best ways to do that is by building a loyal following on social media: develop each relevant channel, commit to social listening, and drive brand advocacy.
Be ready to deal with enquires from abroad
With a great international marketing strategy and overall global business approach, you will start bringing in new clients. Customer service nowadays is extremely important. People expect an immediate response to their enquiries. Amazon sets a very good example. Their great customer service is consistent in every country they operate in. The company has localised sites for every country that they operate in, and each country has their own local reps.
The last thing you want is to cause friction between people who don’t speak a common language. Sometimes, getting a local team together is not always possible, but there are other ways of dealing with international enquiries.
- Machine translation
- Email translation
- Telephone interpreting
E-commerce worldwide is expected to grow two fold by 2017, reaching £1.53 trillion. Western Europe alone will account for over £290 billion in the next 3 years. Platforms like Etsy and Shopify are making it even easier for people to set up their own shops and sell online. Investing in e-commerce will become a trend and those who fail to jump on the bandwagon will be the ones at a loss.
What’s your biggest challenge when selling overseas?
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