What to consider before ‘going global’
For many e-commerce retailers, once they have established themselves in their local market and stabilised their business, selling your products abroad is often the logical next step. Considering the sheer purchasing power awaiting them beyond their home’s border, it is easy to see why. It’s a billion-dollar-business, and understandably, you do not want to forfeit your piece of the cake. But what are some key factors you should consider before ‘going global’?
Know your markets: Demand
As you will know from the launch of your product in your home market, consumer interests and demand will determine how well your product is received and whether it can be successful. Investigating your niche and the competition you will face in your new market is absolutely imperative before you start actively expanding, marketing and selling your product in a new country. Should you already offer some foreign customers the possibility to order from you, leverage that experience! Maybe there has been a noticeable interest in your product from a specific region? Chances are there is even more unsatisfied demand in that market.
Know your markets: Legal Matters
Keep in mind that other countries may have different regulations on what products that can be offered for sale and how they are to be sold. Your product might have to be re-tested or even altered according to the health and safety standards of the new market, packaging may have to comply with stricter environmental standards, and so on. The best way of finding out about these standards for the markets you are interested in would be to get in contact with local customs agencies, both in the country you want to export to as well as in your home country.
Export and Import Procedures
Put together a checklist of all the documents you need to provide to your local customs office to clear the shipment without incurring penalty costs or unnecessarily delaying the process. The same applies to the import procedure in the destination country. You will likely get the information from the respective customs office, as for example here from the British Revenue & Customs department. You should also inform the customer as best as you can about any extra costs inferred through tolls, fees and taxes as well as the steps he will need to take once the shipment arrives in his country. Will he have to pick it up from the local customs, what documentation will he need to provide?
Customer Care & Returns
Equally as important as the legal nuts and bolts of cross-border e-commerce, you should also have a strategy in place on how you will interact with your actual customers abroad. You may have a dedicated support team dealing with requests from your home country, but can they also serve your new market? What about time differences or language barriers? Your new customers may not be willing to make expensive international phone calls, can you offer them alternative support channels? And if they’re not satisfied with the product, or if it is faulty, what will your returns policy look like and how will you handle returns logistics? Keep in mind that in the new market, customers may be accustomed to different policies and procedures than the ones in your domestic market. If you cannot offer them the same or better conditions as local sellers, it might get in the way of your business.
You’re not in it alone!
Last but not least, if you plan to increase your international shipping volumes, you may want to consider getting support from a service provider specialising in cross-border shipping. To push your international business, a dedicated consultancy can advise on market-specific matters such as marketing strategy, customer support as well as legal concerns.
And to make the shipping process a breeze, the service of BorderGuru provides smooth integration and the upfront payment of all relevant fees and taxes in real-time into the prices of your online shop, as well as take a bulk of the administrative burden off your shoulders. For both you and your customer, the shipping process will be just as effortless as the regular domestic one!