The online world has no borders.
Your eCommerce store can sell to every single corner of the world where consumers have web access. But, surprisingly, many online store owners dismiss the opportunity to spread their brand far and wide because the logistics give them a major headache.
But if you can push past the roadblock and buckle up your business for overseas success, you can unlock a bigger slice of revenue. All it takes is a fresh look at your eCommerce strategy and a few steps to consider your new (and incredibly huge) potential customer base.
Why You Need to Take Your eCommerce Business Overseas NOW
This year, there are set to be 1.79 billion online shoppers, which is set to increase to 2.14 by 2021. The vast majority of these buyers don’t discriminate about where the company they buy their goods from is located – they just care about quality and getting the best deal.
While that all sounds lovely and exciting, there are some key things you need to consider before you take your business on “tour”. For example, each country has its own regulatory laws, so it’s vital you target countries rather languages. On top of that, you need to take into account the beliefs and preferences of the people you’re planning to target in those countries.
People all over the world have different opinions when it comes to different brands and styles, so taking that into account can be the difference between getting raving fans and people feeling “meh” about your products.
1. Offer Different Payment Methods
For most online brands, whether they’re selling digital products or physical items, it’s standard to offer the most common payment methods like Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal. These payment methods are common for a reason – they are widespread and the majority of consumers know them and are comfortable using them.
However, these payment methods aren’t always the preferred way to pay in other destinations.
For example, in the Netherlands, consumers prefer to pay using iDEAL, and in Germany they prefer using ELV.
Being able to offer different payment methods isn’t the only way you can make international consumers feel more comfortable about buying your product. You can also provide payment information in their local language and currency, which has been proven to decrease the rate at which people abandon their shopping carts.
2. Implement Global SEO
When you metaphorically take your business overseas, you need to optimize it for the region you’re trying to target.
We only have to look at Google’s constantly-changing algorithm to see why this is so important. As the biggest search engine in the world, Google will be a key traffic driver to your online store, which will acquaint people with your digital products and encourage them to buy.
But Google’s on a mission to go local.
Despite the interconnected nature of the internet and its ability to touch all four corners of the globe, Google wants its users to have a more personal experience. This means it specifically shows people businesses in their area using geo-location data.
What does that mean for you?
It means that it’s difficult for you to get your products ranking on Google in multiple countries since you won’t have location-specific information on your website – and Google really does like to show users what’s most relevant to them in terms of geographical proximity.
To get around this, you can create geo-targeted landing pages that will rank better in international searches – or, more specifically, in searches that people who live in the country you’re targeting are making. On each of those separate landing pages, you can then upload content and copy that’s geared towards that audience (because, remember, different people prefer different styles and brands).
It might seem like hard work, but once you’ve got each landing page set up for the countries you want to target, you’ll see a greater stream of traffic arriving at your online store via search engines.
3. Speak the Language
So, we’ve covered the idea that you need to target different countries with different content and payment methods, but there’s a big gaping hole in the strategy this far.
Because not everyone speaks the same language. In fact, if you’re targeting a global audience, the chances are you’ll be trying to reach people who speak a wide variety of languages all around the world. And, while this does open your business up to more sales, it also makes it more difficult to communicate with these people.
The answer? Provide product descriptions and landing page content in local languages.
For example, customer reviews on landing pages and product pages drastically boost sales. According to research, around 77% of consumers are heavily influenced by reviews when thinking about buying from a store.
Take Evernote as an example: they implement testimonials from their users, but if a potential buyer landed on the page and couldn’t understand the testimonial? Well, that is potentially enough to put them off buying from you.
Translating is an additional expense but offering well-translated content that captures the nuances of individual dialects can work wonders at bringing international consumers on board with your brand and turning them into raving fans that will shout about your products from the rooftops.
4. Work Across Different Time Zones
The internet doesn’t sleep – it’s a bit like the digital version of New York – which means that when you’re selling products internationally, you’re going to be serving customers outside of your time zone. Obviously, this raises customer service issues.
According to research, 64% of consumers expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real time. The any-time nature of social media has raised consumer expectations about the customer service experience and ignoring this need could be detrimental to business.
But how can you placate buyers when you’re in one time zone and they’re in an entirely different one?
This is when you need to look into options that will allow you to offer customer service around the clock. For example, you might get a virtual assistant on board in each new destination, or you might integrate a chatbot that can answer common FAQs until you’re business hours begin again.
5. Create a Scalable, Roll-Out Plan
Launching in one country is one thing, but to do it over and over again in different places can feel like a huge drag. This is why it’s important to create a scalable global eCommerce plan that lets you essentially drag and drop key details into a bigger strategy for each new place.
First things first, roll out your store launch in one new country before going all out and firing it at all the international locations you want to target.
This will give you the chance to learn from the process and discover what works and what needs serious tweaking. Once you’ve got your approach nailed (make sure it’s detailed!), you can roll it out for each new regional launch.
It will include things like:
- Finding out who your target market is in the new location and discovering what kind of content they like to devour
- Implementing local SEO to reach people in their home countries
- Translating content into the local language so it’s easily relatable
- Switching up prices to reflect the market in the region you’re targeting
Competition in the international market is fierce.
Remember, you’ll be up against well-loved local brands that consumers in that region have been buying from for years, so it’s important that you’re able to position yourself alongside these mega-brands.
This is precisely why it’s vital to get a solid plan in place before you start touting your goods in different countries. A key part of the process involves getting to know your new potential customer base and learning all about what they want and need from a brand like yours.
Once you know exactly what they’re looking for, you can create content and product descriptions that tie into this.
Slow and Steady Always Wins
It can be tempting to jump right in the deep end and scatter your business all around the world at the drop of a hat, but that won’t get you anywhere fast.
Sure, there are billions of potential buyers just waiting for a product like yours to land in their laps (or on their screens), but you need to approach it in the right way or you’ll completely put off people with different cultural views and different shopping preferences.
The way to do this is to launch slowly in each region, really taking the time to get to know your new customers and providing them with landing pages and payment options in their preferred language and currency. This will immediately instill a sense of safety in them and will make them more likely to buy from you.
From there, it’s a case of getting eyeballs on your brand in each location. This requires a localized SEO plan and creating a customer service system that works across time zones. Once you’ve successfully launched in one new location, you can then roll out the same method in other places.
Taking your eCommerce business overseas won’t make you an overnight millionaire, but it will expose your business to more buyers and help you create a brand that’s recognized all over the world.
Need more tips and advice? Check our ultimate eBook collection that will help you run and grow your website!
Maik Bodden, Marketing Manager @ G2A PAY