Up until the mid-1980s, business owners struggled with the problem of making their product available to a larger audience. The growth of the Internet has opened up borders and given companies an easy and inexpensive way to reach customers who were once thought unreachable. However, for any business looking to expand into new markets, there are certain items that need to be taken into account in order to be successful. Related: 6 Reasons Amazon is an E-Commerce Genius
1. Localize the Website
It may seem simple, but not every site takes advantage of this. Customers like to purchase in locations where they feel comfortable. Some of the main areas on which to focus would be giving customers the ability to change to their local language, pay with their local currency or payment methods or even get a deal on a local holiday. These are basic ways to make a website more inviting to gain new business.
Also, take the time to look at all the possible cultural differences between where you are now and the location in which you intend to expand. It goes without saying that there are some major differences in spending habits between countries, so a one-size-fits-all plan is not going to be very effective. Online customers are very wary of fly-by-night operations. Taking the time to research and implement different launch plans for each location is crucial as it gains the trust of the shopper, which is vital to being successful in any market.
2. Research Delivery Methods
Having efficient and effective shipping methods is essential as this is your only physical touch-point to a global customer. Make sure to look into the costs of each shipping method as these can come at a considerable cost with delivering to a global market. Offering free shipping may not be the most cost-effective plan when expanding. Take the time to look at what the competition is doing and decide whether or not free shipping is critical to remain competitive.
Related: Find a web design company to help you globally optimize your e-Commerce site.
3. Concentrate on Customer Service
All of the time and energy put into creating an amazing website will go down the drain if customer service options are lacking. As soon as customers hit that "Contact Us" page there is a little internal clock in their head counting down how long it takes for you to respond. The longer you take, the longer the customer has to look for alternatives. Remember that the more personalized and tailored the customer support experience is, the better your chances are for success in a global market place. In the day of social media and social commerce, showing your customers the ability to meet their needs in a timely fashion goes a long way.
4. Choose the Best Online Platform
This correlates with #1 about having a localized website. Choose the appropriate e-commerce platform that will help detect who the visitors are and where they are located. Besides providing valuable information as far as traffic goes, this can also help with offering localized payment methods or other adjustments needed for international customers. Requirements such as currency conversion, trade compliance and any local taxes or fees can all be handled by the right platform.
Having these features and functionality on your website is a necessity for any global e-commerce business. While smaller businesses may not be able to implement them all at the same time, they should be part of the roadmap going forward. Doing so will help drive online sales for your business and at the same time make it easier for shoppers to view the site, make a purchase and return for future business.
Bio: Chris Hoell is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Digital River MyCommerce, a global e-commerce solution offering independent businesses smart, proven and affordable commerce solutions that are as unique as your business. (Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net)