by Tom Shackleton
Taking your eCommerce store out across the world is a big step for any store owner. There’s plenty of risk involved, but with totally new markets to explore and a huge base of potential customers, expanding internationally is also exciting.
If you’re to successfully expand your store internationally, you’ll have to carefully plan every aspect of your expansion.
You’ll have to consider everything from the look of your store to international law and handle it all with care and attention to detail. An international expansion may be a big risk, but get it right and the rewards for your business are plain to see.
Here are 7 key steps to taking your eCommerce store international.
Prepare Your Storefront
The most obvious place to start (once you know where you want to sell to, of course) is to think about your storefront.
Your storefront is the first thing new customers will see, and making sure it’s suitable for new markets is vital.
You’ll have to think about whether your store copy needs to be translated into different languages and how you‘re going to achieve this. You may want a different storefront for each territory, or a single store with language options.
The way you choose to display information may also differ between countries. You may want to focus on different products depending on the location, and your store messaging may need to change to reflect who you’re selling to.
Think about Payments & Currencies
Getting payments right is another vital step to a successful international expansion.
While your current customers may clearly prefer a certain payment method, shoppers in different countries often have different habits and preferences. You should ensure that you’re offering the payment methods most favoured by your new markets, and make checking out as simple for them as possible.
Currencies will also be a major consideration for your expanding store. Depending on who you’re selling to, you may feel it necessary to offer checkout in different currencies or display store prices in the local currency.
Depending on the eCommerce platform you’re using, all of this will be handled differently, so you should research the capabilities of your platform and come to the best solution.
Plan the Logistics
You can sell to different countries as much as you want, but if none of your orders get there, your expansion will have failed before it’s even started.
Before you start selling internationally, put a detailed plan in place for delivery, returns and stock management.
Research local delivery options and find a viable solution for shipping your products around the world. You may wish to have products fulfilled from a local fulfillment centre, or ship them yourself.
You’ll also want to plan for returns and ensure that your return system won’t put off customers. It needs to be affordable for shoppers should they wish to return an order.
Having a contingency plan in place for all of this is also a good idea. Should your international shipping run into problems, you’ll need to keep orders flowing out.
Segment Your Marketing
Getting your brand across to each of your new markets is essential. You’ll want to think about how you’re going to market to new countries and consider if any of your messaging or targeting needs to change.
You may be able to effectively translate your existing campaigns across to new markets, but you may also need to tweak copy, language, tone, anecdotes and humour to effectively reach your new markets.
Ramp Up Your Customer Service
If you’re dealing with customers around the world, there’s a lot your customer service team will have to consider in order to serve these customers.
Firstly, you’ll have to plan for how you’ll communicate with customers in different timezones. That fancy new live chat is no use if half of your customers are asleep whenever it’s active!
Put a plan in place for how your customer service team will handle customer enquiries from around the world and offer the best experience possible.
You’ll also have to think about communicating with customers in different languages. This may mean hiring multi-lingual customer service staff or considering another solution such as Unbabel for your CRM system.
Consider Cultural Differences
There will likely be cultural differences between where you currently sell and the new countries you’re expanding to.
Before selling in new markets, it’s a good idea to research their culture, values and any taboos that could potentially impact your products or how you sell them.
Are there any cultural practices that are frowned upon? Any negative associations with your product or messaging? The last thing you want is to hit a PR disaster before you’ve even started selling.
It’s likely that you won’t run into any issues, but being culturally sensitive of the new markets you’re selling into is important.
Be Aware of the Law
Finally, there will definitely be legal differences between where you’re selling now and your international markets.
You need to thoroughly research international selling laws, as well as any local laws for your new countries. This can include taxes, duties, tariffs and local selling requirements.
The legal implications of selling internationally can be one of the biggest potential pitfalls for your business, so take the time to carefully understand any laws that could affect how or what you sell. If you want to find out more about the legal considerations of selling internationally, you can read our blog post: 5 Vital eCommerce Laws That Could Shape Your International Expansion.
International expansion is a huge step for your eCommerce store. It will add complexity to your logistics, marketing, customer service and your store itself, so getting everything right is important.
Expanding your eCommerce store internationally carries risk, but if you plan each aspect carefully, you should be able to take your products to exciting, growing new markets.
International expansion can be the next step in your eCommerce success story.
Interested in how Statement can help get your eCommerce store ready for international expansion? Feel free to get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help.