There is little doubt that taking an e-commerce operation global could increase revenues dramatically. Billions of people worldwide now shop online. Markets like China and India are bursting at the seams in terms of e-commerce. Yet that does not mean every domestic e-commerce retailer would do well with international expansion.
Do you operate an e-commerce website? If so, do you have plans to expand internationally? Opportunities abound for retailers whose operations are a good fit for an international marketplace. Still, it is best to ask yourself some important questions before moving forward. Here are five of them:
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1. Will My Products Sell Overseas?
There are tons of products that sell pretty easily worldwide. But there are just as many with limited appeal. The first thing to ask yourself is whether your products will sell overseas. Do not just guess at the answer. Do a little bit of market research. Find out what the demand is for your product in a number of global markets.
If you already sell on a major platform like Shopify, you should be able to look at your analytics to discover where your traffic is coming from. A significant amount of traffic from a particular country suggests that your product would sell in that country. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be getting the traffic.
2. Can My Current Infrastructure Support International Sales?
Selling internationally could boost your business quite a bit. Ask yourself whether your current infrastructure can support additional international sales effectively. Can you keep your inventory levels adequately high? Do you have the physical tools and space to process more orders? Will you have to add more team members to meet the demand of international sales?
3. How Will I Ship My Products?
International e-commerce ultimately leads to international shipping. According to Preferred Shipping, a Texas logistics company and DHL authorized reseller, not every international shipping provider does things the same way. Some ship internationally better than others.
This is to say that it pays to do your research on shipping. Find out how companies operate and what they charge. Find out how they handle customs. And if you are selling through a platform like Shopify, you might get discounted rates with certain shipping partners.
4. Can I Reasonably Manage Customs Issues?
Your average e-commerce operator with a limited scope and inventory doesn’t tend to run into too many problems with customs compliance. However, you should still know the rules and regulations that apply to your particular operation before you jump into international waters. For example, there are countries you might not be able to ship to. There are products that cannot be shipped without special permits.
5. Is My Customer Service Up to Par?
Every e-commerce operator relies on good customer service to keep buyers happy. With international sales, however, customer service issues are amplified by both distance and cultural differences. Is your customer service up to par? Do you have experienced people on your team capable of dealing with cross-border issues?
In this regard, some e-commerce pros make the effort to bridge the cultural divide by tailoring the shopping experience to each of the countries they sell in. Doing so is quite an undertaking, but it is well worth the effort as an operation expands into more markets.
Do you think you are ready to go global with your e-commerce site? If so, take it slow and steady. Educate yourself about all the ins and outs of cross-border sales. Do it right and you could grow your business substantially.