Commencing e-commerce sales across international borders taps your company’s full potential and unlocks a whole new market for your products. Achieving positive results from global e-commerce expansion isn’t automatic, but there are ways to maximize your chances for success.
While there is more to it than just ensuring your website is accessible in another country, and the process consists of multiple steps, don’t be intimidated to get started. If you follow the simple steps below, they can contribute to the success you will have in your new markets.
A successful international sales strategy can be broken down into three common-sense steps. Simply confirm that there’s a receptive target audience in your new market, check that your website is suitable for the new locale, and ensure that shipments are executed without a hitch. Deliver on these promises, and you’re off to a great start:
Step 1: Choose a Country with Favorable Market Conditions
The countries that you choose to target for cross-border e-commerce matter. It’s vitally important because a true international rollout goes into intentionally chosen markets, rather than marketing globally all at once. Taking on new challenges one at a time, or in small clusters, will ensure that each country gets the focus it deserves.
Use all available statistics to compare potential markets. Countries with large English-speaking populations are good candidates for e-commerce because you won’t have to devote resources to content localization. Focusing on regions with high rates of Internet penetration maximizes the percentage of the population that your goods or services can reach.
Conduct surveys to determine the percentage of online customers in your chosen country that already buy goods and services across borders. Rather than wondering about future sales potential, zoom in on an existing market segment. Statista’s chart of cross-border readiness indicates that Canada is a highly viable market, with 63% of e-commerce shoppers purchasing international goods. European countries tend to have higher rates of domestic purchases, but there are outliers such as Belgium where 72% of shoppers buy across borders. Tools like SimilarWeb and other website traffic monitoring tools can help you stay on top of where the global traffic to your site is coming from, so you can ensure you’re targeting the right audiences.
Step 2: Optimize Your Website for Online Sales
Once you’ve chosen the ideal market, your international e-commerce expansion plan can fall apart if you don’t have a suitable website for the new region. Asking a customer to use a browser translation tool in order to read your landing page is mistake No. 1. Failing to offer payment methods that are widely used in the local market is mistake No. 2. Shoppers will not buy from a foreign web store if they do not perceive the transactions to be safe—particularly if your competitors are already providing a better experience.
A thorough localization for a website requires a comprehensive makeover rather than a simple coat of paint or a hands-off non-solution. As E-Commerce Times contributor Eric Litch recently explained, “You should consider cart options, payment methods, item pricing, customer support, and more when you’re setting up the site for the new audience.”
Then there’s the matter of translation. Absolutely everything a shopper may want to know should be rendered in the local language to prevent anyone from having to trust a browser translation. Once you’ve completed your website health assessment, your business is ready to fully capitalize on the benefits of a new e-commerce channel.
Step 3: Master the Power of Logistics
Modifying your online presence for a new international market may create a false sense of confidence about how your cross-border expansion is progressing. Your business’ positive initial impression may fall short if your customers have trouble receiving the items they’ve ordered on time and intact. If a customer is disappointed with their initial purchase, they may forgo a repeat purchase, and your company’s reputation in the new target market may be tarnished.
Given that your new target market may be oceans away from your warehouse and getting items across borders can add unpredictable amounts of time as well customs taxes and fees, providing a quality shipping experience can be a tall order. But delivering on your shipping promises has never been more important for your business, as consumers are twice as likely to return to a retailer after a positive delivery experience.
The good news is, you have options. Sound shipping and delivery practices are the same across borders as they are domestically: provide services such as delivery tracking and expedited shipping while keeping costs low. But don’t stop there. With more than 90% of consumers saying they look for available delivery options before even reaching the checkout, it’s also important to advertise your shipping options throughout the shopping experience.
Fortunately, there are logistics solutions available for companies that want to ensure that cross-border processing is as smooth as domestic deliveries, and you should consider using these methods. For instance, you can contract to use warehouses and distribution centers close to your foreign customers. Working with a third-party partner—a company experienced in international commerce– is one way to achieve these capabilities.
Work with a Helpful Partner
With DHL in your corner, your business can gain the solutions it needs. When your logistics operations need a boost, DHL can employ its advanced delivery options and warehousing capabilities. DHL can offer even more support by tapping its logistics experts in the overseas market to help you develop and execute your overall cross-border strategy.
A well-planned, cross-border e-commerce strategy can develop new avenues for value creation. By bringing new markets onboard and mastering them one at a time, your small company can be capable of reaching the next exciting stage in your business growth. By keeping the main pillars of these strategies out in front, you’ll not only reach new customers—you’ll impress them.