We hear it all the time from eCommerce brands in the United States: international selling is complicated, time consuming, and full of competition so why bother? While we won’t deny that marketing to other countries carries it’s own set of challenges, the potential rewards of tapping international markets are nearly endless, fun and profitable!
If you’ve already established a successful eCommerce business in your home country, then you may be farther along than you think. Your online store, your branding, and your marketing plan will all need some tweaking depending on your target market, but like any complex task, the key is itemizing challenges and then tackling each individually.
Identify your target market.
One way to approach a big-picture international export plan is thinking about it like a game of Risks. Start by choosing one county, establish a niche, then slowly expand your reach. This approach starts small, but helps you build the infrastructure to eventually conquer the world!
Consider this: the United Kingdom is the third largest market for eCommerce in the world, behind the U.S. and China. The British lead all of Europe in terms of frequent online shopping, with the average shopper spending £1,174 (approx. $1,821) online per year. This is a market that’s practically begging for more buying options. Furthermore, the lack of a language barrier — a principal concern for novice exporters — makes our friend across the pond an attractive first foray.
In fact, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia make up roughly half of the global eCommerce market. Beginning with those countries lets you get into the game while sticking with your native tongue, and allows you to focus on nuts and bolts like shipping and sales.
However, a language barrier shouldn’t be your only marketing consideration…
Market to your target culture.
If you are already marketing successfully in the U.S., then your brand identity and marketing plan are most likely designed to cater to the culture and sensibilities of American consumers. While these elements can still serve as a framework for an international campaign, some customization is still in order, even if the language is the same. Remember, brand identity encompasses how the consumer interprets your business’s name, logo, communication style, and message. In other words, if the consumer is from a different culture, that will skew their interpretation of your brand. So even if your website is in their language, cultural differences can have a dramatic effect on how your advertising efforts are received.
For businesses looking to begin exporting, we advise at the very least consulting an expert to monitor trends in local social media, to get a lay of the land and help wordsmith messaging and SEO strategies to fit the local zeitgeist. This is a bit more of an investment than simply changing dollars to pounds or feet to meters, but connecting with the consumer is half the battle when it comes to marketing. Taking these steps can help bridge the gap, and protect your sales numbers from being hamstrung by culture shock.
Compete with the big dogs by streamlining your logistics.
The biggest concern we hear from small to medium sized retailers is that international shipping is scary, difficult, and time consuming. Here’s a little secret: it’s not. Granted there are a few more steps than domestic shipping, but the process really isn’t all that daunting. If you’re shipping everything yourself, there’s plenty of software or web-tools that can easily calculate shipping rates and customs concerns for any destination.
But if you really want to provide a shipping and fulfillment process comparable to Amazon and other giants of the industry, consider outsourcing to a Third Party Logistics (3PL) company. These specialists can handle all of your warehousing, shipping, and even returns. If your 3PL is already accustomed to international shipping, then there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Plus scalability is now on your side. As you expand your reach and start shipping to different markets, you don’t have to worry about building new warehouse space, or hiring more staff to handle shipping — the 3PL will be ready to take care of it.
If you already have an online store, you’re closer to global export than you think. Iffel International has a fully functional eCommerce platform in place to help businesses of any size become a global export powerhouse, whether you’re just looking to ship over the border, or ready to take on the world. Call us for a free consultation 855 433 3522
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