In 2020, with the global coronavirus pandemic closing many physical retailers for a period and consumers stuck at home more than average, online sales have been going strong. Ecommerce was already on an upward swing as consumers realized the benefits of browsing and buying anywhere, any time. Things aren’t looking to slow down, either.
If you’re running a current online shop or plan to open one soon, it pays to consider international audiences. When you sell digitally, you can target people worldwide and significantly increase your potential market. Obtaining the online sales you want isn’t always as easy as it might seem, though. It’s helpful to follow some essential tips to expand your client base as strategically as possible.
Make Your Website Suitable
It seems simple enough to create an eCommerce store from which anyone can shop. Before you expect sales to start suddenly pouring in, though, you’ll need to take steps to make your site as globally relevant as possible and suitable for consumers from multiple markets.
There are different ways to go about this. You could sell your products on an existing online marketplace in the destination you want to target next, such as the UK or Australian versions of eBay. Doing this lets you test how much demand you might get for your goods in new markets.
To keep things in-house, though, you must optimize your current website to make it work well for buyers around the world. For example, mention international shipping options in many spots and display a list of international shipping costs or add a cart function where customers can calculate fees. Allow shoppers to choose their preferred currency, and perhaps even install a multi-language toggle or translate function to take things up a notch.
You may want to go all out and create separate customer websites for markets, with specific local domain names for each. Doing this enables you to work out how to best present information and products in a way that suits that exact shopper type. However, this is an expensive option and isn’t a good idea if you haven’t done extensive testing first. No matter which path you choose, make sure your company branding is consistent throughout, leverage social media and other digital marketing tools, and provide excellent customer service.
Understand Legal Differences
You’re used to selling in your base country and undoubtedly know the relevant laws and regulations related to doing business in it. When you start selling internationally, though, there’s a whole bunch of other rules to wrap your head around.
Once you know where you want to target your global expansion, look into the specific regulations that affect doing business and shipping there. For example, look into customs, duties, and taxes, free trade agreements, and specific eCommerce and marketing laws.
Set Up Sensible International Shipping and Returns Systems
Getting the sale is just one part of the transaction. You must also get the products people buy to their door safely and securely. Once you start shipping overseas, parcels need even better protection and packaging, so they arrive in one piece.
Consider factors relating to shipping hazardous goods, too. International destinations can view different materials as dangerous than we do locally, so you must know what has to identify and handle appropriately. You may need to utilize tech tools such as an impact recorder and RFID tags to track and analyze the state of goods in transit.
Investigate options and get as much feedback from customers as you can early on to ensure your packaging methods are adequate. Also, set clear delivery expectations and update customers along the way, so they know when their parcels will arrive.
Many consumers won’t feel comfortable buying goods online, especially those from overseas, if they can’t return items and do so easily if goods are incorrect, broken, or don’t suit for some reason. As such, create a helpful, clear return policy. This should feature stipulations, such as the time limit for returns and when you will only give store credit (e.g., for sale items). Follow local consumer laws around returns, too, as these might differ.
Make International Payments Easy for Customers
Make international payments easy and stress-free for customers. Show trust identifiers, such as site seals, payment gateway logos, business membership information, and contact details, so people feel comfortable parting with their money.
Offer various payment types so shoppers can find the one that suits them best, such as PayPal, credit and debit card payments, Apple Pay, and gift cards. Also, investigate local payment solutions in each country that consumers might be more familiar with.
Selling globally online provides such a plethora of opportunities in this day and age that it seems silly to pass it up. Just ensure you go about it in a smart, strategic way and consider your customers at each step along the way.