We're a global society, and that globalization presents blue-sky possibilities for businesses, along with storm-cloud challenges. But it’s worth the effort. Businesses that want to grow globally with their e-commerce can find customers at every corner of the world. In fact, the international e-commerce market is growing at 26%—higher than in the US. Whether you’re marketing to consumers or to businesses, expanding into the international marketplace means considering many new factors, from unfamiliar compliance and international regulations to the challenges of complex payment processing and the intricacies of international shipping—and that’s the just the start. Here are some ways companies can ensure a successful move into global business:
Before diving headlong into a new market, it helps to get a good idea of what the market demand is for your product or service. Many companies opt to partner with third parties and begin their global ecommerce expansion on a limited basis in a number of new markets. Seeing where the company performs best, and where the brand is most recognized, can help a business prioritize which marketplaces to move into. A good place for many companies to start, in order to grow quickly, is the top ten markets; these markets are where about 80% of the global e-commerce market exists.
Brand is a powerful thing, and no matter where you are in the world, your brand will be among the most valuable assets you have. Maintaining a consistent brand experience at all touch points will only help in creating loyalty with your customers in new markets. If they know what to expect along the way (and enjoy the experience throughout), they’re likely to not only stick with you for the long haul but to bring new customers your way, as well.
Companies would be wise to respect their customers. A customer who visits a company's site or opens its app with the intention of making a purchase will be frustrated (and maybe angry) if the site is in a language he or she does not speak. Offer communications in as many languages as possible, and, while you're at it, be sure to display local currencies when listing prices. Don’t burden your customers with this mechanical task.
Customers around the world want multiple payment options. It is among the most important things you can offer. In order to move successfully into a new market, companies have to be aware of and accept the payment methods that community uses. Shipping is no different. Some customers want their merchandise fast, while other cost-conscious ones will opt for an economy shipping option. Companies that offer a full suite of options for how customers can pay for and receive their goods will find better success with their international expansion efforts.
Just because your return policy works in your home market, that doesn’t mean it will be what customers in a new market will expect. Staying flexible with return policy—even at the single-market level—helps maintain top customer service. Offer tracking, since customers want to know where their goods are, and when they can expect them.
Discover how to capitalize on the double-digit growth in the global e-commerce. Learn what customers expect from you in the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study.
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