A version of this article has been published in Global Trade, contributed by Yoav Kutner, CEO and Co-Founder of Oro Inc.
While the economy and supply chains continue to struggle, global B2B eCommerce shows no signs of slowing down. A recent survey discovered that at least 25% of the US B2B sales accrue to cross-border deals. With new technologies making it easier to expand to new markets, this trend will only grow stronger.
While opportunities are abundant, achieving lasting success when selling internationally requires brands to keep up with modern eCommerce and marketing strategies. In this article, you’ll find 7 key areas you should focus on as you expand into international eCommerce.
1. Refine your marketing strategy
It’s crucial to understand that some parts of your marketing initiatives will work in new markets, but some won’t. You need to be ready for additional investment in market research, new lead-generation resources, or marketing programs tailored to the new region.
When expanding internationally, you need to match any experiences you already provide in your current market. While it’s tempting to deal with cross-border efforts in-house to avoid extra costs, outsourcing this work to local partners can be effective and shouldn’t be overlooked.
2. Take localization seriously
Local partners also ensure you meet the requirements of the new foreign markets when it comes to localization. Machine translations can cut it when it comes to cultural nuances and linguistic quirks.
For example, websites and materials in English are usually more casual and concise than those in German. Content for the MENA region will require localization for Right-to-Left languages such as Arabic and Hebrew. You can’t afford to neglect these factors if you want your brand to look professional and credible.
3. Get pricing right
Cross-border eCommerce requires the ability to take orders in different currencies, but there are also some other considerations to be mindful of:
- Factor in hidden costs such as shipping and customs fees – be clear about how much an international transaction will cost you and your customer.
- Local pricing norms – research how customers prefer to deal with price lists, negotiations, checkout procedures, etc.
- Payments – your eCommerce platform must support payments in local currencies and allow you to customize the checkout experience.
4. Take compliance seriously
You’ll have to deal with taxation requirements in different countries when expanding internationally. One example is selling in British or European markets: you’ll need to handle VAT appropriately and remit VAT returns and additional tax forms correctly.
In addition to tax compliance, get up to speed with data privacy rules for the jurisdictions you’re selling into. You need to be fully aware of how you can collect and use customer data to avoid substantial fines.
5. Review payment options
As a brand targeting foreign markets, you must review the credit card processors and payment methods you provide. While there are payment methods available globally, it won’t harm to double-check how customers in your target location prefer to pay. Staying informed on local laws regarding chargebacks, refunds, and contract law is also a good practice.
6. Make ordering transparent
Given ongoing supply chain challenges, providing robust and predictable shipping and delivery information can make or break your cross-border expansion.
That’s why you must be as transparent as possible with buyers about product availability, shipping times, and any potential delays. Robust eCommerce tools play a crucial role in enabling better ordering experiences. They can centralize real-time data from multiple suppliers and distributors and pass that information to buyers when they send order requests.
7. Streamline international fulfillment
Lastly, be prepared to handle international fulfillment promptly and without hiccups. Developing relationships with fulfillment partners is a way forward for businesses not yet ready to build a global network of fully-owned warehouses.
At this point, you’ll need a strategy for returns embedded in your shipping and fulfillment processes. This strategy should also include communicating clearly with customers about how such issues will be handled.
Poised for growth
Taking a brand across borders and meeting international customers’ demands won’t come easily. But businesses can build a solid foundation for international expansion by putting the customer first, building a partner network, and deploying robust eCommerce technology.