More and more people are embracing the ease of shopping online. They can recline in their home anywhere in the world and order products and services. Shopping has never been more convenient. If buying stuff online is a rhythm, then more and more people are joining the dance, and it doesn’t seem like the tempo is going to slow anytime soon.
This implies that companies, whether small or big, can now avail their brands of this growing opportunity to expand their business overseas without really having to deal with the hassles of setting up bases in various countries. Heavy e-commerce stores like Amazon thrive on this opportunity.
Of course, many brands have tried to establish themselves online, but failed because they couldn’t stand out. But many still are drumming away, broadcasting their success stories. Say you are thinking about expanding your business overseas using the internet. How do you guarantee your place among the latter?
Here are some tips to help get your started on the right track.
- Set up a company website
This can be any type of website—an e-commerce site, a catalogue style one, a personal website (can work for authors) et cetera. It all depends on what your business is about. Your company website is the meeting point for you and your foreign—even domestic–customers.
You can start by creating a domain name that is unique, one that befits your brand, and then registering with a domain registrar. Well, arriving at a suitable name can be difficult sometimes and depends on how creative you can get, but the latter is easy. You can register your domains at Umbrellar, Sedo, GoDaddy, and the likes.
Once you’ve got the name part down, there are a lot of other steps involved in setting up your company website.
- Choose a webhosting service.
- Get a professional website designer who can recreate the appeal of your brand using their design.
- Choose your e-commerce package.
- Fill your website up with content and products.
Here is a broader take on creating a website that will help you expand your business overseas.
- Use adverts and SEO
Your business isn’t going to thrive overseas via the internet if nobody knows about it. It would be like producing a new detergent and storing it in your shop or warehouse and expecting consumers to sniff it in the air and come. You have to take the first step. Reach out to prospective customers. When they come and love your product, then maybe they will spread the word.
To put your business out there, you can use reputable advertisement mediums like Google AdWords and Facebook ads. Also, you can take the proper steps to make sure your site is search engine optimised—proper use of keyword phrases, compelling blog contents about your niche, authority guest posts et cetera. This will earn you credibility and visibility on search engines, which is where consumers go to research products.
- Use prominent payment methods
The internet has turned the world into a marketplace. Anyone can shop from anywhere. Make the process easier for your customers. You should at least include debit and credit cards as well as PayPal in your online payment options.
- What about shipping?
How do you deliver your products to your customers? Whether the shipping cost is on you or your customers, you should partner with a shipping company that is reliable and cost-effective—one that ships worldwide.
Also, if your customers handle the shipping cost, make sure the amount is clearly stated. Hidden costs will only destroy your reputation and scare customers away from you no matter how great your products are. Plus, detail out a coherent return policy on your website.
Here is more detail on setting up a shipping system.
- Build your reputation
In the beginning, as the adverts and your SEO efforts begin to produce results, it’s not every customer that finds your online store that will make an order. In fact, most will warily leave your site. Nobody wants to part with their money without receiving their order in return.
This is where your shipping partner comes in. As stated above, you should use one that is reliable, one that has a track record of not missing a delivery. Why? Because in the event of a late or missing delivery, customers wouldn’t care about the shipping company you used. They only know who took their money. This can be damaging to your reputation.
- Watch out for overseas competition
Yes, accessing international customers via the internet means you now face competition on two fronts—domestic and foreign. This implies that the standards for your products and services should no longer be confined to your physical location. You should now adhere to global standards and even offer more if you want to step ahead of competition worldwide.
- What is your unique selling point?
Consumers overseas, of course, already have local or online stores that they patronise. Simply offering the same products online wouldn’t sway them towards your store, because you are merely another black dot on a paper filled with many black dots. How do you turn your business into a red or blue or green dot?
Simple. Add something else to your brand to make it unique. If you produce Western shoes, adding a touch of African or Indian elements might just be how you will entice customers away from the shops they frequent and towards your store.
Here is more on unique selling point.
- Offer discounts
This is a basic business strategy. It can be a nice way to snatch some customers away from rivals. You can also reward devoted customers with this. But you have to be careful. Cutting too deep into your profits can mean your downfall, especially if you aren’t garnering enough sales within short periods in order to compensate for what you lose via price cuts.
- Establish a professional customer service
While it’s night in your location, it’s day somewhere else. And seeing as your business is now overseas, you have to be ever ready to respond to enquiries and complaints via calls, emails, and comments on your company blog at the minimum time possible. If you have people handling this, they ought to be friendly and professional, and it may be useful if they know two or more prominent languages, as people who are not well-versed in English may call in.