How To Expand Your Ecommerce Venture Internationally

December 13, 2016

8:30 pm

Everybody shops online. By 2018, the number of international shoppers will increase by 50 percent. In addition to this, it is important to note that people are no longer saving their online shopping for the holidays, or for items that most of us would consider extras. Instead, they are using resources such as Amazon Prime to shop online for necessities. In 2015, it was forecasted that international ecommerce was going to grow by a whopping 25 percent.

What does this mean? Online shopping is now global. Consumer habits are changing in ways that are favorable to ecommerce, and international ecommerce is booming. So, if you’re thinking of scaling your online business internationally, now might be the time. With $1.4 trillion in ecommerce growth over the past few years, getting in on the action certainly seems like a wise thing to do. Here are a few tips to help you get going.

Research New Markets Carefully

Think about the market you’re already in. You know what consumers want in an ecommerce shopping experience. You even know which holidays tend to lead to increases in online shopping. You also know who your competitors are. As you begin to consider entering international markets, you have to start from scratch and accumulate this knowledge again.

You may also have to work hard to develop new relationships with local media, bloggers, and other retailers. The backlinks, social shares, and other online hype opportunities that have helped you on your home turf might not have the pull that you need to build trust in new markets. You may have to take your content marketing global as well. This may include creating new content, and having old content translated. It’s probably a smart idea to invest in professional translation services using a local translator. They will understand language nuances that translating software simply will not.

Know What You Need to Localize

Depending on the market, your localization efforts may be quite simple and cheap or complex and costly. Here are some questions to ask yourself before making the leap:

  • What local and national regulations will impact you?
  • What are the most popular search engines? Will you need to optimize your content for those search engines as well?
  • Will you need to adjust content and find new keywords to improve SEO?
  • Are consumers comfortable shopping on English only websites or will you need to create localized websites and landing pages?
  • How are customers shopping habits different?
  • Will your website need to support UTF-8 Characters, a consideration if you are entering Asian markets?

One thing to consider is invoicing customers and collecting payments. For example, you may be used to collecting payment and then shipping your products. However, in some parts of the world cash on delivery might be the norm.

Test the Waters with Existing Marketplaces

Before you move forward, take a step back. Are you absolutely confident when it comes to product viability in the new market you’re targeting? Creating localized websites or landing pages, converting currency, and other steps can be time consuming and costly. That’s a lot to invest if you’re not absolutely sure you can gain traction quickly.

Fortunately, there may be other options. Consider piggybacking onto existing online marketplaces that have already found their way into international markets. Ebay and Amazon are two prime examples. If you can earn sales and impress consumers there, you can probably take that as indication that you can move forward with your internationalization plans. You can also study how their shopping cart experiences work along with other aspects of the purchasing process.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien

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