Global eCommerce share of retail sales in 2022 is forecast at 19.7% and expected to grow to 24% by 2026. But the problem is that the barriers to entry for international eCommerce are constantly evolving.
In the early days of cross-border eCommerce, the biggest challenges were lack of trust, cross-border payment issues, and returns/logistics.
Nowadays, with advanced technology and a better understanding of global customer needs, these barriers have been significantly lowered. So, if you have a great product and want to sell it in international markets, now is the time.
Here are 7 steps to building an international eCommerce business:
1. Research Your Target Market
The first step to starting any business is to research your target market. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s crucial to your business’s success. After all, you need to know your potential customers and what they’re looking for before you can start selling them.
While there are a lot of ways to get started, the most important thing is to ensure that you understand their needs and wants.
Your research should include an analysis of the following factors:
- The size of the potential market
- The level of competition in the market
- The average order value in the market
- The preferred payment methods in the market
- The preferred delivery methods in the market
2. Analyze the Supply and Demand
The second step is understanding your target market’s demand for your product or service. When analyzing demand, you have to consider both the quantity and quality of potential customers.
For example, if you’re considering selling luxury goods, you’d want to focus your marketing on countries with high GDP per capita. If you’re going to sell products that are popular gifts, then seasonal trends will be a critical factor in your analysis.
Once you understand the demand for your product, you can start assessing the competition.
You can do this by conducting a regional analysis on factors such as:
- Local competitors
- Product demand
- Consumer behavior
- Gaps in the market
3. Choose the Right eCommerce Platform
You have two options when starting your eCommerce business. First, you can use a marketplace, like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay, to sell your products. Or you can build your own website and brand that you fully own and operate.
If you’re going with the second option, using eCommerce software makes it easier to list your products, set prices, and add a shopping cart to your site. The software makes the process less hassle for you while ensuring a great customer experience – allowing you to focus your time and energy on selling.
The key is to find a platform that is easy to use, scalable, and has all the features you need to run your business.
For example, Shopify is a great option for businesses of all sizes. It’s easy to use, has a wide range of features and is scalable as your business grows. Plus, Shopify has built-in tools to help you manage cross-border shipping, taxes, and payments.
Another great option is WooCommerce. It is a WordPress plugin that turns your WordPress site into an eCommerce store. The platform is free to use and comes with many features. You can also access plenty of plugins and themes to customize your store.
4. Set Up Your Website
The next step is setting up your website. All you need is a domain name and hosting, and you can have your website up and running in no time. Think about how your website will look like and what kind of things will be in it.
Here are some tips for your website:
- Write strategic copy that will persuade people to convert and boost sales.
- Include areas like a home page, an about page, a contact page, and blogs.
- Highlight the benefits in your product descriptions and engaging photos.
- Add keywords to make it easier for customers to find you.
5. Localize Everything
Localization is the process of making your products, services, and marketing materials available in multiple languages to cater to international customers. This is essential if you want your eCommerce business to succeed in global markets.
Remember: Consumers can’t purchase if they don’t understand your product or message. In fact, 76% of online shoppers prefer buying products with information in their native language. And 40% will never purchase from websites in other languages.
So, your site must have multi-language and multicurrency capabilities. You don’t want your customers to translate descriptions and convert prices manually.
Localization also helps you make your marketing more personalized and set your website apart. By doing so, you can better understand local cultures, seasons, holidays, and shopping habits to effectively localize your site, from content to promotional campaigns.
6. Have International Shipping Options
One problem cross-border eCommerce businesses face is shipping, which can be tricky. You have to consider different customs regulations, shipping costs, taxes, and duties.
Analyze where you will need help and connect with local shipping experts in the regions where you struggle for assistance. You can also partner with reliable shipping companies to deliver your products to international customers with standard shipping rates.
Another thing you have to consider is returns. You need to have a return policy in place if customers are unsatisfied with their purchase. And you need to have the proper packaging to ensure that products arrive safely at their destination to minimize cost and maximize profit.
7. Set Up a Payment Solution
Finally, equip your eCommerce business with a reliable payment solution. This is even more important when expanding into new markets because you’ll need to account for currency conversion and cross-border fraud. For example, you can use Currency API for exchange rate conversions (or a free alternative, like freecurrencyapi.com.
You should be able to accept international payments via credit card, PayPal, and other popular payment methods. And you need to make sure your payment gateway is PCI compliant. This will ensure that all your customer’s data is safe and secure.
Optimize Your Effort and Have a Successful eCommerce Site
Don’t make the mistake of only focusing your time and effort on your products. Ensure that you also give enough time to craft and localize your content, marketing, and prices. By doing so, you’ll set up your eCommerce business thriving as you expand into new markets.