If you’re looking to sell outside of the United States for the first time, there are a few simple things you can do to make the process as easy as possible. The following expert tips should give you a solid foundation for cracking overseas markets as an online seller.
1) Know Your Market
Before selling overseas, it is essential to research the markets where your target customers are underserved, and where there could be a gap for your product to fill. Be careful also to research competitors and identify the places where you may face pressure from local rivals.
Should you have the necessary resources, travelling overseas can be a great way to familiarize yourself with each market, tap into local know-how and immerse yourself in the unique conditions you’ll face. Of course, this first-hand experience will also help you when marketing to overseas buyers – a little effort and knowledge can go a long way.
However, if international travel isn’t possible, there are plenty of other ways to educate yourself about new markets. The US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, for instance, provides excellent export guides, giving a clear overview of the markets that could work for you and your product. You could also consider running a low-cost survey on social media, to get feedback on your product directly from target overseas customers.
2) To Go Global, Get Local
Each country will have its own regulations, so doing your research up front will mean the selling process is much easier down the line. Consider everything from customs prohibitions (you’d be surprised by what you simply can’t ship to some countries) and taxes, to simple things like local holidays. In China, for example, November 11th is ‘Singles Day’ – the single biggest shopping day of the year. Taking advantage of this could give your sales a huge boost.
Consider translating your website, so you’re better able to communicate with customers in your target market. Choose an expert translator, or simply use a plugin that can automatically convert your website to the local language. Website translation experts Pangeanic offers three top tips for consideration when translating your website.
Finally, remember to research the differences in local sales platforms, as they may differ from the US.
3) Build Strong SEO, and Consider Paid Campaigns
Strong SEO can play a huge part in reaching new international customers, so don’t forget to build it into your plan.
It’s best to start with some research into local keywords and competitors. Which keywords are your competitors targeting in this market, and where are they getting their links? Don’t just assume that you can use the same keywords that you do back home, as these can vary even in English-speaking countries. Targeting the wrong keywords can generate poor quality traffic and fewer conversions, so it pays to be thorough up front. Read this blog by SEO experts MOZ to help you get started on your keyword search.
If you want to go even further, it’s worth setting budget aside for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisements. These can help to bring quality traffic to your site through the use of targeted keywords, and can form part of a well-rounded inbound marketing campaign.
4) Plan for International Payments
Selling internationally means taking payments from overseas customers – and, much as you may want to avoid it, that usually means foreign exchange. It’s important to pay attention to this, as it’s all too easy to lose money to poor exchange rates and eyewatering transfer fees without the support of a specialist partner.
Speak to an international payments company that offers the essentials – competitive exchange rates and complete transparency on fees – and that also demonstrates ecommerce expertise. Some providers offer virtual accounts in a range of major currencies, plugging directly into ecommerce platforms to save on transaction fees and exchange rates when bringing your revenue back home. Read more about how OFX supports online sellers.
5) Partner Up for Smooth Logistics
So, you’ve done your research, listed your items, and the international orders are starting to roll in. Now it’s time for international shipping – and you certainly shouldn’t underestimate its importance. In fact, 90 percent of online shoppers have abandoned orders because of shipping costs, while poor delivery can seriously undermine customer satisfaction.
Sourcing local logistics providers can be costly and inconsistent, so opt for a global delivery company like UPS, which can give you expert support that’s both cost-effective and easy to manage. It’s important that customers have control and visibility over their shipments, so be sure your provider offers a quality service that won’t let you down at the final hurdle.
For even more guidance on how to succeed in the international marketplace, download the OFX Guide to Going Global.
OFX helps online sellers and businesses expand to international markets. OFX’s simple solution allows consumers and businesses to move money across borders fast and at a fraction of the cost of using a bank. Since its launch in 1998, OFX has transferred more than $100B in 55 currencies across the globe. OFX Group is a leading global money transfer business, with over 300 employees and offices in San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Auckland. www.ofx.com.
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