If you are an online retailer, you may have thought about opening your business to international markets, but have been daunted by some of the barriers to doing so – language translations, currency exchange, payment processing, shipping rates, duties and taxes, etc. A recent article in Forbes Magazine looked at why so many businesses avoid the global ecommerce market, and why they should reconsider.
According to Forbes contributor, Julia Pimsleur:
"There are seven billion people in the world; only 320 million of them live in the United States. Yet fewer than 1% of the 30 million companies based in the United States export their products or services to other countries – a much lower percentage than in any other developed country. What’s more, according to the International Trade Administration, the majority of U.S. companies that do export do so to only one country.
That’s a lot of untapped potential business for U.S. companies."
Your retail ecommerce site can tap into that vast potential with a few tips in mind.
• Do some research and learn about the markets you are trying to reach. While it may seem smart to limit yourself to a few key locations, the wider your reach, the more potential shoppers you may find. Also look at the number of internet users in your market; right now, the highest population of internet users in the world is in Asia.
The global eCommerce market is growing at 19% a year, and some US retailers have discovered that products that may have plateaued in the US will find new life in another country.
• Localize your website. Be sure that site visitors can see your eCommerce site in their own language, with their own currency, and that familiar payment methods are accepted. You want the experience for your international customers to be as seamless and user-friendly as possible. There are global eCommerce solutions available that offer localization services like these and can be easily integrated within your existing shopping cart.
• Master international shipping. Issues like borders and customs, taxes/duties, and country-specific regulations can delay shipments and require expert navigation. Look for reputable companies that specialize in global shipping and can provide turnkey solutions for your business.
• Watch out for fraud. While expanding into the international marketplace opens up a wealth of opportunities, it also can open your business up to increased risks. Credit card fraud is much more common in some countries than it is in the US, and you need to make sure you proactively put measures in place that will safeguard your business from fraudulent transactions.
Look at your retail site and ask yourself if your products would appeal to consumers outside the US and if your products can be shipped internationally (or if shipping the product would cost more than the product itself.)
Once you’ve determined that you can (and should) expand into the global marketplace, enlist some expertise to get you started. You may find that it is easier than you think to open your business up to a whole new world of possibilities.
This blog post was presented by Diane Callihan, Web Content Strategist at Bongo International.