The natural progression of a successful local eCommerce store is to begin exploring international reach. Expansion is an exciting and risky idea but having a good plan can make it a global success. Here are seven steps to take when taking your eCommerce store international.
Research the Potential
Do your homework before you start. It simple advice, but it’s crucial that you know who your new target audience is, what their needs are, and how best to reach them with your product or service.
Start with simple tests that will give you conclusive results – desired or not – that’s how you’ll learn what works and doesn’t work. To do this act global but think local – take methods you are currently using and tweak them for your audience.
Next, optimize delivery and in-market experience. This is where you begin to refine your message and mode of delivery.
Lastly, think through the following, being honest with yourself as you answer:
- Are you ready? – make sure you have an established eCommerce store, be sure that you have the revenue to run multiple stores, confirm through study of your analytics that you have a high number of loyal and recurring global customers
- Decide if you’re not ready – be careful that you are beyond the testing phase of your eCommerce store and that you have the time to dedicate to research and growing your international store
- What about management? – be ready to put in more administration or hire assistants. Virtual assistants may be a good solution to the higher administration needs
- Will there be additional expenses? – it will cost more at the outset, however, with careful management, the added revenue will easily cover any cost of doing business
- Where – study analytics to ensure proper opportunities and to validate investment
- What about marketing? – take time before you start to define your marketing strategy starting with what’s already working for your store and tweaking as you go
- What about logistics? – deploy, then test, global solutions, like FedEx, UPS or DHL and leverage them for optimal delivery speed
Cost of Doing Business
Once you determine the most effective shipping methods and costs, enable shipping slowly, knowing that you are still testing those systems. Continue to learn about duties, tariffs, and local currencies.
Understand Local Customs & Culture
Start by localizing your website. Create a page that appeals to your target audience, knowing that it will likely be different than your local website. Use images, wording, and colors that relate and appeal to your customers. Employ an in-country designer if necessary.
Target customers where they live, learn their culture and habits, customize your marketing for them using a merchandising strategy that relates directly to them while being aware of their holidays and traditions.
As you did to establish your original eCommerce store, offer excellent and quality customer service – this makes for a positive user experience and keeps you relevant to the region.
Optimize the In-Country Experience
Use in-country local distribution, shipping, and logistics plans which will create ease of delivery of your product-based business. Customers will appreciate having local contacts in case of hiccups in the process which builds loyalty and trust with them.
Blend digital and physical experiences, allowing customers to place orders online and pick up at a local store or distributor which personalizes the experience for them.
Automate your workflow by creating systems that take care of a majority of the administration and communication, thus freeing up your time for marketing, order fulfillment or planning for further store and product expansion.
Set Up Multiple Regional Shops
Create multiple regional Shopify accounts using one for each area where you want to reach which creates a larger global community who shares their love for your product. By creating multiple domains with regionally relevant names, you will build relatability and familiarity with potential customers.
Next, duplicate your shop(s) from your current website tailored to the region – use an IP redirect if necessary to direct traffic to their specific store.
Double Down on Social Media
Create a locally relevant advertising campaign by finding what appeals to that audience. Try using methods you use locally but tweak them for your global customers.
Leverage social media to build in-market footprint using Facebook. Create a tribe around your product to generate loyalty and community around the world.
Google Shopping will help reach a large number of potential visitors and customers. Google searches for items similar to yours will draw them to your eCommerce store quickly and easily
Closing A Store (only if necessary)
In most cases, consistency and a long-term marketing and advertising campaign will get results, however, if the need arises to close an online eCommerce store, it can be done by reverting back to your original store. You won’t lose that. At this time, you can redirect and refocus on the store(s) that are working well, thus generating more income on those sites.
As with most eCommerce sales, consistent attention, marketing, and quality service, any global store can be successful. Just remember to do your homework for the region you expand into, start small so you can quickly observe accomplishments and areas for adjustment, and as always, provide excellent customer support.
Ryan Kh is an experienced blogger, digital content, and social marketer. He is founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate on covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups and entrepreneurship. Connect with him on Twitter @ryankhgb.