International E-Commerce Guide: 8 Things You Need to Know Before You Get Started
If you're selling online, chances are, prospects can find your products anywhere. E-commerce is a growing market, the market is big, and there's practically no limit as to where you can expand. Now, the question is, are you ready to sell internationally?
If your answer is yes, then you have to be aware that expanding your business in a much more global scale requires a lot of time and effort. Not only does this helps you boost your sales, but it also helps you thrive and survive in a highly competitive e-commerce industry. Hence, all of your efforts will be worth it!
Here are the things that you need to know if want to sell internationally to help you get started:
1. Set up analytic tools.
Did you sign up in Google Analytics already? If not, now is the perfect time to do so. Using analytics tools help you track your website traffic. It also helps you know where the majority of your website visitors come from. You can also access reports on your traffic sources like search results, social media, email newsletters, etc.
Knowing this information will help you decide which market to focus on.
However, don't be too eager to expand either. Only expand if you see that your new market would make up about 5 percent of your total sales.
2. Get to know your new market.
Analyzing your target market is one of the most important things that you can do before starting your online business.
Your goal is to determine the countries where your products are in demand, and then try selling them specific goods. At the same time, be aware of your competitors in these markets, and the marketing strategies they're using.
Another important thing is to know your target customers in this market, their preferences, and buying habits. Ideally, you should be flexible enough in engaging consumers from different cultures and locations. Knowing what their expectations and motives are can be crucial if you want to expand internationally.
3. Sort out payment methods.
When it comes to international e-commerce, payment methods could be considered a stumbling block. For instance, most shoppers in Australia and North America prefer credit card payments, while those in Asian countries prefer cash on delivery (COD).
Moreover, according to the Baymard Institute research, the reason why one-third of shopping carts are abandoned because of the few payment methods offered at checkout.
Therefore, you need to pick a payment provider that has a solid reputation in security. For instance, PayPal is one of the most secure payment methods. According to Statista, it's chosen by 39 percent of customers around the world.
4. Research international shipping options.
After picking your target market and knowing which products are selling the most in a particular location, it's safe to say that you are halfway done. In order to complete your task, you need to do your research and know the international shipping rates in markets that you're eyeing to expand to.
Most consumers don't proceed with their purchase because of costly shipping fees. Also, keep in mind that heavier goods are a lot more costly to ship internationally. Provide your customers with an accurate delivery estimate based on their location, as well as the shipping costs.
However, you can still incentivize your customers by offering them free shipping once they purchase a certain amount. That will help you cover for the shipping costs. The most important thing that you can do is to be transparent with your international customers if you're shipping internationally.
5. Get familiar with taxes and regulations.
Dealing with taxes and other regulations can be quite a painful issue, but you have to do it right if you don't want to be in trouble with the local tax authorities. Note that there might be different tax rules with every country that you will be selling into. Therefore, it's important to consider how you can include tax within the overall cost of your product without making it too expensive.
Note that if you're selling your products wholesale, most of the time you don't have to charge your foreign business customers taxes. To be on the safe side, however, you might want to get in touch with a tax expert to help you out with this.
6. Enable multiple languages.
Another thing that you should take note of when selling internationally is to enable multiple languages. If customers can't understand your product descriptions, they're unlikely to purchase from you. Instead, they'll look for another store that will provide them with the necessary information they need.
Therefore, the best way to look professional and trustworthy in their eyes is to interact with them in their native language.
Good translations are vital, too. Translations should be accurate and should present products and services that make sense for your buyers. It's also crucial that you use a professional service to translate things on your e-commerce site.
7. Support local currencies.
Shoppers don't want to waste their time converting prices into their local currency. Therefore, make it easy for them and show prices in their own currency. Supporting several currencies is also another crafty way to get closer to international customers and reduce the number of visitors leaving your site. Adding this minor tweak can do wonders for your online store, and it's relatively easy, too.
8. Get your invoicing straight.
Sometimes, it's not enough that you send customers an order confirmation or receipt. In most countries, it's already mandatory that you issue an invoice for every online purchase. Your invoice should contain an official tax document that has a more detailed breakdown that isn't included on the receipt.
The Key Takeaway
All of the points mentioned in this article ensure that your online store remains up and running without hassle. Selling in an international market will let you achieve new horizons, helping your brand receive international attention and, of course, boost your bottom line.
Follow the tips mentioned above and you'll be on your way to success and new beginnings.
Jake Rheude is vice president of marketing at Red Stag Fulfillment, a third-party e-commerce order fulfillment company.
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Jake Rheude is the Director of Business Development for Red Stag Fulfillment, an e-commerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of e-commerce. He has years of experience in e-commerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.