10 strategies for international online selling success
Whether you’re buying coffee beans from Costa Rica, mala beads from India, or designer shoes from Italy, global e-commerce marketplaces make it all possible. And it doesn’t just the benefit the consumer, who can shop around the world without leaving the comfort of his or her couch; it also benefits the entrepreneurial individual who has always thought about starting an online business.
Thanks to the technology now available, you can now more easily enter the global marketplace. The key to winning abroad, though, lies in having the right plan in place, so we’ve compiled 10 strategies for selling internationally that you can implement in order to boost your odds of success.
To be successful as an international seller, your strategy should include:
- Selecting the right international markets, and the right online marketplaces.
- Adapting to every market’s preferences, laws, and regulations.
- Remaining competitive while keeping customers coming back.
- Promoting your store and your products.
- Using a global payments service, like the OFX Global Currency Account to bring more of your profits home.
1. Choose an internationally established online marketplace
Entering the global market in the 21st century doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. With the surge in popularity of online marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, you can simply establish a seller account and begin creating listings for each of the products that you want to sell and ship internationally.
2. Identify and select the right markets for your business
Whether you create your own website or you use an online marketplace, identifying and selecting the right markets for your products will be a key component to your success. What sells like hotcakes at home may not be so popular abroad.
So you need to consider not only language barriers, but also cultural differences, political and economic policies, and buying preferences before choosing the inventory that you will promote abroad. Research will save you time and frustration in the long run.
3. Adapt to each market’s needs
Once you’ve done your research and determined what markets you’d like to enter, it’s time to adapt to, and meet, their needs. Consider translating your product listings, hiring customer service reps who speak the language and researching the competition so you can set more attractive prices. Understanding local context will be crucial to the global success of your business.
4. Research applicable laws and regulations
One of the biggest challenges that comes with doing business internationally is keeping up with the various laws and regulations in each country. There are import, export and customs laws that will affect your ability to distribute certain products abroad, and there are also taxes, duties, and other fees that you may need to consider.
There could also be environmental regulations, privacy and security measures that need to be met, and packaging, safety, and labelling requirements. Once you know what laws and regulations you need to adhere to, you’ll have a better idea of what markets are right for your business and whether or not a particular market would be worth pursuing.
5. Remove the headache of international shipping
International shipping isn’t just costly, it can also be complicated. Thankfully, there are some options that will make your life easier. For example, if you’re using Amazon to sell your goods abroad, you can sign up for Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) and FBA Export, which will determine the export-eligible products in your inventory for you.
FBA also lets you ship your inventory to the appropriate international fulfilment centres so orders can be shipped to customers locally. Plus, with FBA, Amazon’s staff takes care of everything from packing and shipping, to addressing customer service needs, all on your behalf.
6. Get—and stay—competitive
Staying competitive at home is hard enough, but staying competitive abroad is a whole new—and exciting—challenge. In addition to launching a digital marketing strategy that will cut through the noise, staying competitive also involves setting the right prices.
A good place to start would be researching your competition and its pricing on comparable products. Then consider your costs, from production and labour, to marketing and distribution, to set the right rate that will ensure the highest profit margins. Don’t forget to also factor in currency exchange rates, which can be volatile and require that you regularly adjust your pricing accordingly to ensure profitability.