Thinking about expanding your online store and selling to other countries? There is a lot to consider before getting started, including shipping, location and marketing. Take a look at the following to help determine whether or not you’re ready to start business abroad.
Google + China = billions in success, right? Wrong. The online world is in a buzz over Google’s exit from China and the multiple reasons behind it. Made me wonder – if one of the biggest names in the world is having trouble, what hope is there for us little guys? Fortunately, we’re not in the business of indexing billions of pages in Chinese characters, so there’s definitely an opportunity. But before we begin salivating over the potential of selling all over the world, there are some things to consider. Take a look:
Decide whether or not your business can sell overseas. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there a foreign market interested in my product?
- Are there any barriers to entry (things that would prevent my presence) abroad?
- What is the competition like over there?
- How much money are my products being sold for internationally?
- Are there any legal issues of concern?
Once you decide to sell abroad, consider these things:
- What countries am I going to sell to? Several countries have extremely high rates of credit card fraud and pose major security issues to your business. Also, shipping costs can skyrocket in some markets.
- Can I offer support to these customers? If Mandarin isn’t your native tongue, it might be difficult to offer customer support to your Chinese base. In order to prevent major transactional problems, make sure you have the capability to communicate.
- How am I going to market overseas? Establishing your presence in foreign markets can be tough. You’ll likely need to run catered PPC campaigns and evaluate your keywords for search engines.
- How am I going to get the products to my customers? This one is pretty easy – just find a carrier with the best rates to where you want to send to.
- How will my shopping cart software help me? Does your provider have things like multi-lingual site capabilities and currency converters? Does it allow for overseas shipping and taxes?
Once you get those questions figured out, make sure you do this before getting started:
- Monitor exchange rates: How much does the exchange rate fluctuate in the countries you’re selling in? Is this a stable environment for you?
- Be aware of linguistic differences: Even in countries that speak the same language as you, there are always subtle differences. In other words, make sure your product descriptions on your site are applicable to everyone.
- Learn the culture and buying patterns: Believe it or not, culture also transcends online. Purchase decisions tend to be more communal in Asian countries as compared to the U.S. Decision makers may be different. The value proposition of your product might be completely different. Do some research ahead of time.
There’s a world of opportunity out there. Ecommerce truly allows your business to be global without ever having to leave your desk. Just make sure you do your homework first and run through the burning questions before getting started. If all lights are green, why not go for it? Just make sure you learn the lessons of Google – always have an exit strategy.
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate
What are your thoughts on selling to other countries – do you have any experience? Any advice for those hoping to expand their borders? Are you thinking about making a presence abroad? Which countries would you start selling to? Are there any other questions that should be considered before launch? Share with us below!