With the rapid advancement in technology, particularly the speed in which communications are evolving, even the farthest flung corners of the world are becoming more accessible than ever.
Ten years ago, most people didn’t own the kind of basic equipment that would allow them to join an online video call from home. Now, Zoom has become an everyday occurrence for so many of us as the working from home revolution arrived with a bang.
Similarly, businesses who up until very recently would only trade with customers in close proximity have been able to reach global audiences through digital marketing, social media and ecommerce.
These international audiences are within your reach, too. And eBusiness UK can help you, as we’ve helped so many others, to achieve that goal. Here are a few points to consider, and if you’re interested in taking the next step, call our team to see how we can help.
While your overall goal will almost certainly be increased sales, the path you take will depend on your business model.
For some, an online shop will be enough to serve customers. But for others, such as those specialising in high value or bespoke goods, it may be more appropriate to build brand awareness and forge relationships, rather than simply shift units.
By determining the objectives you need to meet on the way to achieving your overall goal, you’ll gain a better understanding of the processes and the technology you’ll require.
Few businesses can trade abroad exactly as they do in the UK. Different laws apply in different territories, and import and export of certain goods can be burdensome, or entirely prohibited. Even where goods are allowed, there may simply be too little demand. Cross-border trading also presents a range of Intellectual Property questions that you will need to answer.
Rather than assuming that you will simply be able to replicate your current business in other countries, it’s going to take plenty of research, maybe even time spent with specialist lawyers and export experts. But the preparation is worth the investment – it’s far more cost-effective to find out a market isn’t viable in advance, before you commit to a full launch which teaches you the hard way.
Much like customers in other countries have their own tastes and demands when it comes to the products themselves, they also have their own favoured ways of shopping.
Amazon and eBay may be household names in many countries, but there are plenty of other markets where they don’t dominate. The same goes with search engines, social media platforms and payment processing systems. What we would consider to be a familiar everyday brand may be unheard of in your target market, with a service you haven’t heard of yet taking its place.
Entering some new markets will be relatively straightforward, simply requiring an extension of your current operations and appropriate local promotion. Other markets will require your site to be translated into the native language, including your SEO campaigns. Others still may require the launch of a new division, running its own systems. To successfully reach an overseas audience you’ll need to trade on their terms, providing a way to buy that suits the way they like to shop.
What may seem like such an obvious factor of ecommerce is so often overlooked: First, how are you going to get your products to your customers? Second, how will you accept returns?
This second point can be particularly complicated. Do you require a local address? How will you inspect returns and add them back into your inventory? There’s plenty to take into consideration.
One way to navigate these problems is to work with a local distributor. Though the charge for their services will eat into your profit margins, it is often worth the investment and can be used as a low-risk option while you test the waters.
This list of considerations may seem daunting, but the good news is that you’re not the first to sell online to an overseas market: there are others who have gone before you, and you can learn from their lessons.
There are plenty of resources you can tap into. The UKTI strongly encourages ecommerce as a way to break into overseas markets and has a suite of free advice available, including downloadable guides and online seminars. You should also speak to lawyers and business advisors who have specific international expertise who will be able to guide you.
And of course, here at eBusiness UK we are more than happy to discuss your goals and how we can help you meet them. We have built multilingual ecommerce sites, run successful international SEO campaigns, created back-office systems that seamlessly handle both domestic and international orders, and helped many Lancashire businesses to broaden their customer base by becoming international retailers.
The UK has fewer than 65 million residents, the planet has almost 8 billion inhabitants. An online ecommerce operation presents the ability for you to expand your business in unimaginable ways. You just need the right partners in your corner helping you make the most of these opportunities, and we are here to help.
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