7 Niches To Follow If You Want Your Website To Go Truly Global
With much of the market going global, many eCommerce retailers are considering international expansion as their top priority in the near future. Today, nearly 45% of their global shoppers purchase goods from overseas stores. Hence, many eCommerce stores are already eying their proportion of that market share.
As many would know, Magento Enterprise has just this functionality built into it to allow the creation of multiple regional store fronts around a centralized back end. This feature can be counted as one of the best available to create a platform that can be utilized as a tool that would launch the eCommerce business platform on a global scene.
However, before this can be done, you need to reckon a range of considerations before you can make the global move. These considerations revolve around the technical, cultural, as well as logistical level, before you can meaningfully expand your online business operations to cover overseas markets.
1. Ensure that your international website speaks the local language
This is the first sign that you pass on to the international consumer that you as a global business understand them. Using the language of your international customer is the first step in establishing the trust between yourself as a business and the customer. Hence, you need to think how your website will cope up for both product as well as non-product content. Its nut just essential to create a good translation, but as an eCommerce owner, you must be able to understand the local culture if you want to capture the local audience, especially if you want to sell products to the local audience. Just translating the website is not enough. You need to ensure that translations also extend to advertising campaigns, marketing campaigns, email. social media, and others.
2. Taxes and Duties
It is also essential to register for tax in each country that you are shipping your products to. You also need to understand the thresholds for VAT registration in each territory. Some of the facts that you need to verify are whether duties are liable, and in which situations. You also need to establish if these are payable at the point of shipment, whether they fall in the tax-free threshold for that territory, or if customers need to pay the duties.
Many eCommerce retailers believe that Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal are the universal means of accepting cash around the world. However, facts point out otherwise. Even in a country such as the UK, 11% of the population do not even have bank accounts. In Japan, buyers want to pay Cash on delivery, while in France, customers prefer Carte Bancaire. Even in Germany, people like to use ELV bank transfers. While in Africa, only 15%-20% of residents have bank accounts. However, about 60%-70% own mobile phones, and their preferred way of payment is via phone credits. Even in the USA as well as the UK, it is typical for some consumers to pay by various methods such as eWallets, mobile payments, offline credit transfers, direct debit and the like. Hence, there is not one single standard method of payment in the eCommerce age, so you need to be willing to make payment methods easy for consumers, so that this can lead to more sales.
It is also a wise idea to show approximate pricing of the product in any currency. This is to be done even if you can only accept payments in a few. Be clear to your customers about which currency you are willing to transact in, as this can even incur bank fees for your customers.
4. Ensuring timely delivery while catering to international orders
If you have set your mind on offering an international service for your eCommerce venture, then you need to ensure timely delivery while catering to international orders. Ensure that you can manage this with your existing logistics infrastructure. Perhaps you will need to enhance your logistics infrastructure before moving into this area. Realistically speaking, many customers will reject the check out process and abandon their shopping carts if they are presented with unexpected costs. Hence, even if you cannot match local retailers when it comes to prices, you need to mention the right prices before the actual checkout process as the customer will surely go in for the purchase and pay more for what could be a unique item for him. At the same time, you need to ensure that you beware of the reputation of local couriers , some who do not show up or end up delivering broken merchandise.
Even while operating an international eCommerce business, you need to expect returns. You will certainly be aware of the manner in which returns place an additional stress on long-distance delivery infrastructure. Additionally, they are subject to a variety of regulations in each market. Return rates also vary by country, so this an important factor to keep in mind. Return levels could vary from 10-15% of online purchases in the UK to about three to four times that number in Germany, due to the country’s long-established mail order industry as well as free returns.
6. Products and Stock
It is a wise idea to include real time stock levels for international stores. However, the rule that goes is retailers should not show stock levels unless they are absolutely sure that they have the necessary infrastructure in place to honor those stock levels.
7. Customer Service
While considering providing customer service for your international customers, you need to understand that your customer service staff needs to be able to communicate and respond in the local language. It is highly recommended that you hire real native speakers to respond to your international customer service requests. There simply isn’t a better choice, unless you want digital customer service desks that centralize all customer service queries from email, social media, and other channels into one interface and even handle matters such as translation.
Hence, all eCommerce businesses who are desirous of going global, should understand that such a decision cannot be taken in an instant. It requires you to build a thorough commercial as well a technical infrastructure to cater to an international audience and thereby succeed in the international markets.