6 Tips for International eCommerce

Who said global domination was easy? Scaling internationally can be a notoriously challenging undertaking for eCommerce businesses, but that hasn’t stopped the brightest retail stars from finding success overseas. So what’s their secret? Every brand is different, but these 6 tried-and-true tips have something to do with it.

If you’re itching to expand your operations but don’t know where to begin, you’ve come to the right place! Sit back, grab a snack, and let us walk you through what you need to know before taking the international plunge.

#1. Research Your Market

This is a no-brainer, but sometimes it’s the simplest steps that we end up tripping over. The potential for increased revenue is enough to get most business owners jumping out of their seats, but miscalculating a new demographic can turn out to be a costly mistake.

Simply put, what works in one place may not work thousands of miles (or kilometers!) away. Identifying a real need within a segmented market is the first step in determining whether establishing a presence there is right for your online store. To do that, you’ll need to look at the big picture — think historical trends, cultural preferences, and present-day competitors.

#2. Connect with the Community

Time for a little networking! Getting feedback from real-time customers provides a wealth of information, but it doesn’t stop there. You may have already heard about the effectiveness of influencer marketing — Glossier and Banza are notable examples of modern brands who have stepped into the social media sphere to generate serious buzz, particularly among millennials and Gen Zers. To take out a page out of their marketing playbooks, put on your research goggles once again to find out who’s who in the region(s) you’re interested in.

#3. Avoid the Avoidable

Next up on the eCommerce book club is reading the room! We kid, but a tone-deaf slip-up has hurt even the most established companies. Let’s not forget when KFC spooked Chinese customers by literally translating their slogan, “finger-licking good,” to “eat your fingers off.” Or when Pampers carried over their classic “stork-brings-baby” branding to Japan, where no such tale exists, ultimately leading to confused parents and abysmal sales.

All this to say that, prior to passing off your marketing masterpiece, it’s worth running it by an extra set of eyes — preferably from a group of meticulous locals.

#4. Cross Off Your eCommerce Checklist

Make an eCommerce list, check it twice… or thrice. There are certain t’s and i’s that must be crossed and dotted, respectively, to ensure a smooth global transition. 

Here, we’ll help you out. See if you can answer the below questions with a resounding yes:

  • Have I updated my website’s currency and payment methods?
  • Am I ready to receive an uptick in order volume? Do I have enough inventory?
  • Have I expanded my customer service capabilities to cater to different time zones?
  • Have I decided whether I want to opt for DDP or DDU? (Hint: You’ll want DDP.)

As you can see, the devil is in the details — here’s the full checklist for good measure. Luckily, the more you’ll worry now, the less you’ll have to worry in the future.

#5. Test the Waters First

Making a splash feels rewarding, but it’s those big ripples you have to watch out for. Thinking big by starting small is one of the smartest moves you can make, especially if you’re venturing out into uncharted territory. Maybe you’ll limit your focus to one particular region of a country before expanding further, or maybe you’ll only launch a limited selection of products to get a read on what demand is like. Whatever route you choose, remember that going forward is almost always easier than going backward.

#6. Enlist the Help of a 3PL

You already saw this coming, right? We’re not biased, we promise! In fact, a third-party logistics provider is key when it comes to international eCommerce. Market research is hard enough as it is — adding on the technicalities of international shipping and fulfillment is just headache-inducing. Take a little weight off your shoulders by leaving the logistics portion of your global strategy to the pros. 

We hope that, after reading this blog post, you’re that much closer to takeoff! International eCommerce is a rewarding journey, but it’s not one you want to go on without being totally prepared. 

Questions? Comments? Drop them in our inbox! We’ll be more than happy to connect.

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