by Contributing Author
Starting an eCommerce business is easier than ever before. However, growing it is another matter. There’s a lot of competition out there and it’s not always easy to get ahead. If you’re lucky enough to have a thriving business within your country, you may be setting your sites on larger markets. By expanding your eCommerce business globally, you open yourself up to a host of potential customers and can grow your business even more. However, expanding globally is easier said than done. Below are some tips you can use if you wish to start expanding into more countries.
Research Potential Markets
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Before you make any major decisions, you’ll want to do plenty of research. Start by researching what markets you might want to expand into. There’s a lot of countries out there and some of them will be better markets for you than others. Learn what you can about the people who live in that country and whether they would have an interest in your products.
You can do this in a number of ways. One option is to hire an independent research firm and have them conduct this research for you. If you already have some connections in other countries, you could try sending out your own survey and analyze the responses. Finally, you could look into existing studies and research that might tell you more about the customers in a particular country. However you go about conducting market research, make sure you know all you can about any potential markets before you start deciding which ones to expand into.
Learn About Tax Laws
Once you have an idea as to which markets you might expand into, you’ll then want to learn about the tax laws in those countries. In most cases, you’ll have to pay taxes on any sales you make within that country. If you don’t know and follow these laws closely, you could wind up facing some significant penalties. You can conduct this research yourself or hire someone with global financial experience to assist you.
After you learn more about the tax codes for those countries, determine whether or not it makes financial sense to expand there. Expanding into a new country takes money and taxes are just one component. Determine how many sales you would need to turn this into a success and how reasonable it is that you can reach those numbers. You don’t want to go through all the work of expanding into a new market only to realize that you don’t have a firm understanding of the tax laws and that this venture isn’t as profitable as you envisioned.
Set Up a Shipping Process
A shipping process is vital to expanding into new markets. You need to have a system in place to send your items into new countries, which often comes with higher costs and more logistics to consider. There are a few avenues you can explore. One option is to rent a warehouse in the target country and ship items directly from that warehouse to those customers. This, of course, comes with the added cost of renting and staffing a warehouse.
Another option is to work with international shipping partners. There are plenty of options if you wish to go this route. For example, you could use something like UK forwarding, which “allows our customer to shop at online retailers who do not ship outside of the UK.” You could also work with large shipping organizations that deliver to multiple countries and see what sort of rates they have to offer.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Once you have the logistics in place, you then need to start getting the word out. You’ll want to explore how you can start penetrating the market in this new country. For a retail business, you may already have many marketing strategies in place that you can adapt for a global market, such as social media or a content marketing strategy. To adjust these, you may just need to target some different keywords or connect with different influencers.
For example, you may research popular social media accounts within that country and establish an influencer relationship. You’d also want to conduct keyword research for that country, as the keywords they use related to your products may differ from those in your current country. Once you know these keywords, you can begin to develop new content, such as blog posts or website pages, that are optimized for these words.
Without a solid marketing plan, your global expansion won’t get off the ground. Start from scratch as if you were developing an entirely new marketing plan, but this time you are focusing on your new market. Then determine which of your current assets you can adapt to your new market and which assets you’ll need to develop. If you put plenty of thought into your new marketing campaigns before launching into a new market, you drastically increase your chances of succeeding.
Adjust Your Customer Service
Finally, you may want to adjust your customer service options. If you’re expanding into a market in a different time zone, you’ll want customer service agents who work during those hours. This way, you are able to answers those customer inquiries and requests quickly, rather than having them wait until your customer service agents are online.
Another good idea is if you’re expanding into a market that primarily speaks another language, you’ll want agents who are fluent with it. This will not only allow them to understand your customers better, but they’ll be more familiar with local customs and language idioms. These little details make a big difference when trying to provide stellar customer service to your new market. Improving your customer service options will help you transition easier into your new market and ensure you continue to provide a good customer experience in all your target markets.
Go About Global Expansion Carefully
Expanding your eCommerce business into other countries isn’t something you should rush through. There are a lot of decisions involved and even the smallest ones can have a big impact on whether or not this expansion succeeds. Think through each stage carefully and be sure you considered all the angles. If you can do this, you will hopefully find that your global expansion helps you grow your eCommerce business to great new heights.