More and more customers wish they could shop everywhere and at any time. Online shops make it possible. E-commerce expert, Thomas Lang, explains some key areas of focus for an international business.
Companies reach new target groups with online shops Even foreign markets can be tapped thanks to this attractive sales channel. “Every company with competitive products that can be distributed without a problem should look into entering e-commerce,” Thomas Lang says, CEO of Carpathia Consulting GmbH, not least because online shops are increasingly matching customer needs. “Retailers have to take this into consideration if they don’t want to lose their existing customers.”
Trust is important
Today’s customer would like to be able to shop anywhere and anytime. Which online shop he chooses in the end depends on the range, the price, the service and above all, trust. “It’s important to know customer needs and to design the online shop accordingly,” explains Lang. “The target group has to recognize within seconds what added value the shop offers and have the feeling of being in the right place.” There is no standard solution. “That would be boring anyway,” says the e-commerce expert. But nonetheless there is a recipe for success: “A successful online shop is structured clearly and transparently.”
Online trade works differently
Those who would like to enter into e-commerce should not forget, according to Lang, that online trade is a completely different kind of trade. “Things like price transparency and multipliers such as search engines play a central role here.” In addition, the introduction of an online shop is not only connected with the corresponding investment but also with cultural and organisational changes in the company. “But those who consciously choose this and operate the business seriously can benefit from quicker growth and from economies of scale.”
“Things like price transparency and multipliers such as
search engines play a central role here.”
Those who are active internationally should not underestimate the logistical challenges and the legal aspects. “Every online retailer who sells abroad has to deal with the consumer protection rights of the respective target countries,” explains Lang. “Neither can country-specific regulations be waived using the GTC.” For legal questions it always pays to call in a specialised lawyer. Furthermore, cultural features have to be taken into consideration. “For example, in France static pick-up stations are obligatory,” says the expert, and he knows. And the means of payment also differ from country to country. Working through the target markets in depth is thus a prerequisite for international e-commerce.
There has to be a bit of advertising
Those who enter into international e-commerce have to draw attention to themselves. That can happen via classic communication instruments such as mailshots but also via online marketing. “Price comparison portals and search engines are particularly attractive.” For the latter it’s especially important to speak the language of the country. And Lang does not only mean the language, but also the tonality and the formality. “For instance, in Germany the currency in the online shop is always written after the price, in Switzerland it’s in front. We also use different labels for the same things.” Such nuances play a crucial role.
About the person
Thomas Lang is a journalist, speaker and CEO of Carpathia Consulting GmbH. www.carpathia.ch