With online sales in Western Europe expected to reach £79 billion by 20201, more companies than ever before are exploring e-commerce as a way of expanding their business. Research is key before you expand overseas, so read our tips below to help you navigate cross-border trade.
1 – Research your target market
Online businesses have two options when expanding for the first time: concentrate on markets speaking their language, such as British retailers targeting America, or countries that may be closer to home, such as their neighbours in Western Europe.
When expanding into an overseas market, research any local competitors and similar services or products. Also consider your target demographic – is it the same as your home audience or do they have slightly different tastes or requirements?
2 – Assess any international challenges
Once you have researched the overseas potential of your business, there are some region-specific matters to assess. For instance, is there a language barrier and will you provide translations for the local customer? Are there any cultural differences that you need to take into account? It is also important to bear in mind your target country’s legal requirements, including restricted products and taxes.
As Anita Balchandani, Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, has said: “Whether it’s the ability to respond quickly and tailor to local consumer demand or navigate international regulation and pricing, international e-commerce requires a healthy dose of all of these skills.”2
3 – Offer a smooth and fuss-free service
If you are targeting the same market as established local businesses, check that your pricing is competitive and attractive. Carefully consider your order fulfilment process and what delivery options you are going to offer to your customers, but also explore the feasibility of setting up a local returns address. Your shipping and return policies could be vital for your company: one study found that 87% of consumers are more likely to shop on a site if it offered free returns, while 96% are more likely to buy on a site if it provided free shipping.3 Ease of purchase, delivery, and return are crucial in a customer’s decision to buy your product, so offer the most efficient experience you can.
There are many different factors to consider when you are exploring overseas markets; however, expanding internationally could be the ideal next step for your business and with careful planning, it could be very rewarding for you and your customer.
About Manuel Bonnin