Scaling For International Success: Expanding Globally
August 17, 2023
The StoreFeeder blog took a break last week, but we are back with a vengeance this week, as we present to you our first guest blog. The accountancy Guru's at Sage have put together a great insight on how you can expand your eCommerce business globally. Without further ado, let's hand the blog over to Sage.
With a constantly expanding customer base and the increasing accessibility of digital platforms, the potential to tap into international markets has never been more promising.
According to Statista, the next few years will see global eCommerce sales increasing by nearly 56% and hitting around $8.1 trillion. There’s much money to be made in global markets - that said, it requires careful planning,strategic decision-making, and a deep understanding of the unique challenges of international expansion.
Expanding your eCommerce business globally is a crucial step towards achieving successful market domination, but what’s the best way to doit?
This blog post will explore the essential points and effective scaling strategies to guide you toward international success. From implementing localisation techniques to fostering cross-cultural understanding, you’ll learn the best steps to elevate your business and achieve significant growth on a global scale.
Conducting comprehensive market research is vital before considering expanding your eCommerce business globally.
Understanding the target market's preferences, buying behaviours, and cultural nuances is essential for success. Market research is your friend. It helps identify potential competitors, assess market demand, and determine the most suitable entry strategies.
You can tailor your product offerings and marketing strategies accordingly by providing insights into local regulations, consumer trends, and preferences. Investing time and resources in thorough market research can minimise risk and identify untapped opportunities in the global marketplace.
A key factor to your business global strategy is effective localisation.
Localisation involves adapting your website, product descriptions, user interface, and marketing content that resonates with the target market's language, culture, and preferences. This goes beyond simply translating text; it requires a deep understanding of local customs, idioms,and sensitivities.
Localising your eCommerce presence creates a more personalised and engaging experience for international customers, enhancing trust and improving conversions.
Supply chain and logistics
Operating in international markets presents unique challenges.
A big one is shipping, customs, and inventory management. To guarantee a seamless customer experience, it’s crucial to establish reliable partnerships with shipping providers and logistics companies that have expertise in international operations. This includes optimising shipping routes and selecting the most cost-effective and efficient shipping methods.
There can often be differences when managing inventory across different locations. This is why using eCommerce ERP, or multichannel management systems is essential if you’re expanding globally, as it connects all of your data across your business. So you can get a detailed and holistic view of your operations.
Understanding and complying with each target market's customs regulations and import/export laws is vital to avoid any legal complications. This may involve obtaining the necessary permits, licenses, and ertifications and ensuring proper documentation and compliance with local customs processes.
Implementing advanced inventory management systems and technologies can help you maintain optimal stock levels, minimise shipping delays, and streamline order fulfilment. A clear understanding of lead times, order tracking, and return management is crucial for providing a positive customer experience.
By investing time and resources in developing a robust supply chain and logistics strategy, you can secure the timely delivery of products, minimise costs, and enhance customer satisfaction, which will influence the success of your e-commerce business in global markets.
Web and UX
Your website serves as the primary touchpoint for international customers and should be designed to accommodate the needs and preferences of diverse audiences.
Focus on creating a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to navigate. Clear and concise menus, well-organized categories, and a streamlined checkout process create a positive user experience. Additionally, optimising your website's loading speed is crucial, as slow-loading pages can discourage visitors, leading to higher bounce rates.
To cater to international customers, it's important to provide language options that allow users to access your website in their preferred language. Implementing a language switcher and offering translations of product descriptions, FAQs, and customer support can significantly enhance the user experience and increase customer engagement.
Another aspect to consider is incorporating local payment methods to accommodate the preferences of different markets. Offering popular payment options and ensuring secure transactions instils trust in your international customers and can lead to higher conversion rates.
Regularly monitoring user behaviour, analysing metrics, and gathering feedback from international customers will help you identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimise the UX of your eCommerce website.
Marketing and digital advertising
A well-crafted marketing strategy tailored to international markets can help you effectively reach and engage with your target audience, driving brand awareness, customer acquisition, and revenue growth.
Digital advertising platforms, such as search engine marketing (SEM) and social media advertising, offer powerful tools to target specific markets and demographics. It is crucial to optimise your digital ads for local keywords and incorporate localised landing pages to maximise relevance and improve campaign performance.
Influencer marketing can also be highly effective ininternational markets. Collaborating with local influencers with a strong presence and following in your target market can help you tap into their established audience and build credibility and trust among potential customers.
On top of this, utilising email marketing, content marketing, and social media engagement are valuable strategies to nurture customer relationships and maintain brand visibility. Tailor your content to the interests and needs of your international customers, offering localised content, promotions, and personalised recommendations.
Regularly tracking and analysing marketing metrics, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on investment (ROI), will enable you to optimise your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions. A/B testing and continuous experimentation will refine your marketing campaigns, ensuring their effectiveness in different international markets.
By adopting a comprehensive and culturally sensitive marketing approach, leveraging digital advertising channels, and continuously optimising your strategies, you can effectively promote your eCommerce business on a global scale.
Customer service and support
A vital thing to consider is offering multilingual customer support to cater to customers who prefer to communicate in their native language.
This is especially important if you’re selling across multiple channels. Use phone, email, live chat, and social media, or consider outsourcing to language experts who can provide prompt and effective communication with international customers.
Establishing clear and transparent communication channels is essential. Provide detailed information about shipping, returns, and refunds on your website and an easily accessible FAQ section to address common queries.
Implementing a robust order tracking system allows customers to monitor the progress of their shipments and provides them with real-time updates, ensuring a smooth post-purchase experience. This can be particularly important for international customers who may have concerns about the status and location of their orders.
Risk management and legal considerations
Proactively addressing potential risks and understanding the legal landscape help protect your business and operate successfully in international markets.
Regarding complying with tax regulations, small business accounting software can be valuable. This will automate some of your accountancy processes and adhere to HMRC rules, ensuring you stay compliant and giving you easy access to financial reporting and order management.
A crucial aspect of risk management when trading globally is conducting thorough due diligence on the target markets. This involves assessing political stability, economic conditions, local market competition,and legal frameworks. You can make informed decisions about market entry and expansion strategies by doing your research.
Intellectual property protection is also a critical consideration. Ensure that your trademarks, copyrights, and patents are registered and protected in the target countries to prevent infringement and safeguard your brand's assets.
To comply with local laws and regulations, familiarise yourself with country-specific consumer protection laws, privacy regulations, data protection requirements, and any licensing or certification obligations relevant to your business. Adapting your policies and practices to align with local legal requirements will help avoid penalties and legal disputes.
It’s also important to consider the impact of international shipping and customs regulations on your operations. Learn about import and export laws, customs duties, and restrictions on certain products to facilitate smooth cross-border transactions. Partnering with experienced logistics providers and legal experts can help you navigate complex shipping and customs processes.
Risk management also extends to cybersecurity and data protection. Implement robust security measures to protect customer data, including secure payment gateways, encryption protocols, and regular vulnerability assessments. Complying with data protection regulations, such asthe General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is crucial to maintaining customer trust and avoiding legal complications.
Booking.com is a Dutch online travel agency that offers accommodation reservations in more than 220 countries. The company is known for its competitive pricing and user-friendly interface. Booking.com’s international success is due to its laser focus on customer service and experience and localisation of its services.
Airbnb is an American multinational online marketplace for accommodation and tourism experiences operating in more than 220 countries. Known for its disruptive business model and focus on personalised travel experiences, Airbnb’s international success is down to its ability to adapt to local regulations and cultural differences and its focus on customer experience.
Virgos Lounge, a London-based womenswear brand, experienced massive growth within five months of going global. Now actively selling to more than 30 countries worldwide, international sales are skyrocketing.
eCommerce global success
Expanding your e-commerce business globally requires amulti-faceted approach.
It involves strategic decision-making, careful planning, and a deep understanding of the unique challenges of international expansion.
Your business can thrive and achieve international success by incorporating effective scaling strategies such as multi-channel growth, localisation, supply chain management, web and UX optimisation, marketing and digital advertising, customer service, and risk management.
Thank you to the team at Sage for putting this together. The StoreFeeder blog will return next week.