How to grow your business internationally
Shipping internationally can be a daunting decision to make. Getting a new brand or product established in your own local market can be challenging, let alone marketing it to a different region or culture where language or customs need to be taken into consideration.
The cross-border selling opportunities in the $2-trillion eCommerce market lead us to a pivotal question. How can small businesses not only expand by selling globally, but also ensure that they have a successful outcome despite economic or political uncertainties?
Here are some great tips from entrepreneur.com on how to get your small business booming in international markets.
Diversify your selling to different markets and countries.
Offering your product to a handful of countries, either via retailing or wholesaling ensures that any potential international issues won’t negatively impact your business too drastically.
Diversifying your markets will keep your business flexible to adapt to challenging situations. If one market crashes, your company won’t come down with it; you’ll have “backup” markets to protect your business and keep it profitable.
Take advantage of global marketplace platforms.
Entering a new marketplace with your own website can be time-consuming, costly and present difficulties such as language barriers. Selling via local online marketplaces can be a relatively risk-free way to test out new markets and enable your business to be agile and able to move quickly.
Don’t overlook shipping.
Selling your products to international customers is one thing, but you have to have a solid plan in place for how you’re going to get them their purchases. Choosing the right shipping method is crucial, as well as offering multiple shipping options tailored to customers’ delivery speed and cost preferences. U.S. customers have heightened delivery expectations, which means international customers have to, too.
According to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper, 75 percent of shoppers rate shipping costs as being the most important buying factor, exhibited by 56 percent of shoppers reporting they’ve abandoned a cart due to high shipping costs. Additionally, consumer perception of what constitutes as fast delivery has accelerated. A Deloitte study reported that nine out of 10 shoppers only consider same-day, next-day and two-day delivery to be fast. And given this report is 2 years old now, it stands to reason that currently, only same-day or next day delivery would be considered fast, with larger retailers trialling 1 and 3 hour deliveries in metro areas.
A more recent study by PWC, reveals that consumers are willing to pay more for same-day or faster delivery. Over 40% of online shoppers said they would pay an extra charge for same day delivery and a quarter of respondents said they would dip into their wallets to be sure of getting their packages within a one- or two-hour window of their choosing. And shoppers ages 65 or over were 8% (52% vs. 44%) were more likely to choose delivery at a specific time slot.
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Make it easy to return it
Another important aspect to be mindful of, is the customers’ return process. Returns play a major role in sales conversions, with 89 percent of customers saying they’ll shop again at an online store after a positive returns experience. Consumers’ buying experiences don’t end when they click “Submit Order” — the subsequent delivery process will still influence the future sales growth of your online business.
StarShipIT’s international shipping software can help you streamline all of these things by automatically filling out customs forms, quickly clearing customs, reducing shipping costs and having more visibility into each shipment with end-to-end tracking.
Develop networks in your new market(s).
When you decide to begin selling internationally, it’s important to develop relationships in the new markets. Make the effort to establish strategic partnerships with prominent websites, influencers and social media players to generate brand visibility and improve SEO performance. If your brand isn’t anywhere to be found in your new, local market, it will be difficult for consumers and businesses to find you – resulting in lost sales opportunities.
Localize everything — from language to cross-border taxation.
Keep things simple by localizing all of the information for the customers that you’re targeting. To start, this means presenting your company information in the relevant language for customers. And, localize yourself to where you’re selling. If you don’t speak the language or understand specific laws, develop relationships with local service providers, industry contacts and partners that can help you smooth over issues that may arise with local postal services and other entities.
Localization also means ensuring that all currency conversions, international payment options and duties and taxes are clearly stated and accurately represent local information, so customers aren’t surprised with unexpected fees upon checkout or delivery.
International selling presents businesses with huge opportunities to grow their operations. By nurturing international partnerships, optimising shipping and services and connecting with local resources, small businesses can successfully expand their global footprint.
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