Your e-commerce is plugging away but seems to have hit a roadblock for a couple of months now. No matter how much you try, you can’t increase your sales or the average checkout price.
So what can you do?
There are lots of strategies to improve your online shop, but there is a very, very interesting one: selling in other countries. Take your e-commerce international.
We’ll explain everything you need to know in this post.
Get on the ✈️, today we are taking you around the 🌍.
What is an international e-commerce?
As we always do, let’s start with the definition:
An international e-commerce is a type of business that operates through the Internet and ships to different countries.
This is pretty obvious and there’s not much more to it. What may interest you if you’re thinking about opening up an e-commerce is this post where we explain what an e-commerce is (and the different types you can find).
Having said that, let’s get to the important part – why selling your products in other countries is so attractive.
Advantages of internationalizing your online shop
Is it worth it?
Will it be too messy?
Obviously, everything has its pros and cons, but exporting abroad has some very convincing advantages:
- New markets: You’ve grown in your country and it’s high time to broaden your horizons.
- More prestige: Selling in other countries shows that you are a big company with a powerful brand image.
- You overcome seasonality: By selling in different countries, you can play with different important dates so that you don’t depend only on local gems like Christmas or Black Friday.
- You diversify risks: Similar to what we mentioned in the previous point, you don’t take as many risks since you don’t depend on just one market.
- Improve your competitiveness: You gain new experience when you enter new markets, which can even lead to ideas to open up new business lines in your own country.
- Scale: Selling in other countries means multiplying your sales.
Interesting, isn’t it?
However, as we mentioned before, it’s not all smooth sailing. You need to be careful with:
- Buyer persona: Bear in mind that there are many cultural differences between countries. You need to study up on who your new ideal client is.
- Stock management: Where are you going to store your products? How are you going to ship them? Also, to start with, you can think about dropshipping or selling without stock.
- Different laws: Check warranty laws and any other relevant legislation.
- Different invoicing process: Not every country has the same taxes, so invoicing is different.
As you can see, you need to take a plethora of elements into account before you dive into this world, but considering the growth that electronic businesses are seeing at the moment, it is, without a doubt, worth doing.
How to create your international selling strategies?
So, you’ve already made the decision to sell in other countries… now what?
In this section, we’ll explain what you have to consider to minimize the risks as you begin your global adventure.
1. First steps
You may think that starting to export products is wonderful, buy it’s essential that you carry out a market study beforehand… or were you planning to sell in every single country from the beginning?
Let’s take a look at 2 different tools that you can use to check which markets are best suited for you.
A. Google Trends
This free tool from Google provides trend searches for different keywords in different countries around the world.
It’s quite easy to use and the results can be interpreted intuitively. Let’s see how to use it:
Go to Google Trends and enter a search term – ideally, the name of the product that you want to sell.
- Country: The country you are searching from will be selected by default, but you can select a specific country or choose “the whole world”.
- Interests broken down into sub-regions: Or even provinces.
- Time period: Check the period of time that you want to analyze (it’s been kept up to date since 2004).
- Category: It tells you which theme best suits your search so you can limit the results. In other words, your business sector (food, beauty, sports, or shopping, for example).
- Types of results: In “Web Search” you can choose to see the results shown on Google Shopping, YouTube, Images, or News, so you can see the trends in each of them.
- Comparisons: The “compare” function lets you enter other search terms related to the main search that will also appear in the graph.
- Related searches: Google Trends offers a list of related searches for each term that you enter.
Basically, this is an essential tool to help you make decisions about your e-commerce internationalization strategy.
If you combine it with Google Analytics and Google Search Console, the quality of your research will be greatly increased.
B. Platforms to check risks
Through these types of websites, you can try selling your products internationally before you completely start exporting them. This will help you evaluate whether or not there is enough demand for your products in the international market and can get a feel for what exporting would be like.
- Amazon: The mother of all marketplaces gives you the opportunity to use its platform to distribute your products in exchange for a monthly fee. In addition, you can manage your own shipping or leave it to Amazon’s own logistics services. However, have a look at this post where we explain the pros and cons of selling on Amazon.
- eBay: It has a Seller Center where they help you organize your sales and they offer international shipping from your country or the opportunity to sell from other countries’ eBays.
- Depending on the country you choose: there may be other well-known international platforms in the target market, such as AliExpress or TaoBao (indeed, the website is in Chinese, but it is one of the most popular sites there).
Take advantage of the options that are already out there and start experiencing the thrills of having an international e-commerce while avoiding the initial investment.
Here you have two extra tips:
>> Start by selling in just one country.
If you have several countries in mind, it may be better to focus on one to start with.
Choose the closest one or the easiest one to deal with. Once you settle into that market, move on to the next one.
Don’t waste your resources and efforts by setting too many goals – that just makes it easier to fail.
>> Get to know the financial policies and duties in your target countries.
Don’t let red tape stop you just when you’ve made the decision to go international with your shop.
2. Adapting your online shop to other countries
Imagine that you’ve already decided where your next business destination is going to be. The next step is to adapt your e-commerce to the culture and laws of said country.
There are several different things you need to take into account.
Hay varios temas que deberás tener en cuenta.
A. Prioritize the local language
English may be the “universal language”, but bear in mind that some countries really appreciate it when they can use their own language.
Don’t skimp on expenses and hire a good translator to localize your website for your new market.
Have you noticed that the Doofinder website is translated into 4 languages? Exactly. ;)
B. Use the local currency
Adapt your prices to the local currency. Nobody wants do math to know what something really costs.
If your clients in Bangkok have to calculate what €30 is in Thai baht, they may not bother and simply cancel their purchase.
Remember, the idea is always to make it as easy as possible.
C. Put your business on the map in your new destination
Social networks are cheap and effective tools for that, so use them wisely.
In addition, you can create a specific profile for each country you operate in, adapting each post to the local audience.
D. Offer the local market’s prefered payment methods
By offering payment options adapted to the local preferences, you’ll avoid many sales objections.
That’s a rather important issue, so we recommend double-checking this post where we explain some of the payment methods you can set up for your online shop.
E. Insure your international shipping
Logistics can be a determining factor for international success since it directly affects how satisfied your end client is.
Big shipping companies normally have international options.
However, if possible, try to work with local companies. They are usually cheaper and they improve the shipping times since they know how to get around the area more easily.
Of course, don’t forget to add an international return policy. ;)
3. Once you have established your business outside your home country
Once you are ready to sell in foreign countries, you can start looking for ways to improve your selling options and grow abroad.
A. Official financial aid
Almost every country offers some type of support program for companies trying to internationalize.
Check public institutions or Chambers of Commerce to apply for funding or aid to help you export your products.
B. Convey tranquility
Clients often get nervous when buying from a website from outside their own country. As everybody knows, the farther away you buy, the more chances of something going wrong.
Display your guarantee, return, and shipping policies in a visible place and offer, when possible, a phone line for each market’s language.
Also, add an online chat (have we ever mentioned how much we love the one from Oct8ne?) where you can answer questions in English.
This is equally important for your international e-commerce venture. Just remember to adapt your message to the local audience, culture, and language.
If you can collaborate with a native copywriter, it will be much easier to find the right tone and message to boost your sales.
Do you feel ready to go international yet?
You already know that it’s not that difficult to become an export business and that it can generate plenty of profits from sales.
So… what are you waiting for?
Get your business passport and start sending your products around the world! ;)