While the pandemic has created a challenging business environment for small companies — especially brick-and-mortar operations – some entrepreneurs see it as a silver lining to launch new ventures. In cities across the U.S., for instance, startups are surging. As shutdowns changed consumer shopping behaviors, many entrepreneurs rooted their efforts in the rapid rise of global e-commerce sales. Now that people are buying more goods and services online, the trend has put new plans for worldwide
e-commerce operations in high gear.
If you have developed a business plan to start a new company, e-commerce is likely to be at the center of your strategy. To ensure your approach to online sales connects with customers, while maximizing opportunities on an international scale, here are some key considerations:
Make Your Website Stand Out
Attract customers and build brand loyalty with a website that is engaging and easy to navigate. Tailor it to your audience and make sure it reflects a clear brand identity. If you are selling high-end, luxury goods, its written and visual content should amplify your product offerings and appeal to the expectations of its buyers. According to Adobe, 38% of shoppers will leave a website if its content and layout are unattractive.
At the same time, intuitive and user-friendly navigation tools are essential. Streamline the ordering process and simplify the payment experience for customers. Finally, make sure you have a mobile commerce platform that is simple, dynamic and robust, because m-commerce is quickly becoming the channel of choice for consumers.
Target International Customers
Online webstores can reach customers around the globe just as easily as they can draw those around the corner. By expanding your audience of potential buyers to include the 95% of consumers who live outside the U.S., you dramatically increase your chances for growth and success. To get started, you need to research potential cross-border markets, understand where your products might sell, and customize your website accordingly.
Targeting the right markets requires careful analysis. There are important resources that can assist, such as the International Trade Administration’s site trade.gov and the Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade at sba.gov. Search these websites to learn about markets, understand export rules, and find financing options. These resources can explain the benefits of trade with certain countries, consumer trends in particular regions, and explain the role of free trade agreements like the recently implemented, U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Once you have determined which international markets make sense for your service or product line, customize your website so that it reflects the local language and cultural considerations. For simplicity, build your site on an e-commerce platform that supports global customization and employs payment methods that are preferred in each market.
Elevate Social Media
No digital sales strategy is complete without a comprehensive social media presence. By leveraging social channels to tell your story to domestic and international audiences, you create a uniquely visual and emotional connection with buyers and potential buyers. Use these platforms to offer video messages in multiple languages, create online contests, and invite customers to share their own stories and images.
Focus on Shipping and Logistics
Your new e-commerce business will not make it if your products are not delivered quickly and efficiently to your customers. To ensure consistent on-time delivery and transparency in shipping costs, it is essential to formulate a clear plan from the beginning. Your choice of shipping partner, your decision to offer free or reduced shipping, and the ability to provide express shipping makes all the difference in customer retention and loyalty.
Ultimately, your shipping policies should be clearly stated upfront and repeated throughout the shopping experience. To reach global customers, your shipping partner should be experienced in international markets, have advanced tools to assist with Customs processes and rules, and proactively provide updates on critical trade issues. Also, consider adding a live chat option that works across languages to assist with shipping questions and general product information.
Are you starting a new e-commerce company or expanding to new markets? Let us know on Twitter @DHLUS.