Worldwide borders are smaller than ever, with proof seen in mobile phone plans, online streaming and, yes, international selling online. Most ecommerce merchants have branched out into different countries, but for those who haven’t (i.e. small or starting-out sellers), RepricerExpress has put together this fabulous guide to moving out of selling in your own backyard.
Figure out Which Country/Countries You Want to Sell In
Before you throw that metaphorical pot of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, formulate a plan as to which country or countries you actually want to target. It makes no sense operating out of, say, Canada and selling to China when the Chinese market tends to export (instead of import) because of their ability to manufacture and sell goods at a much lower price than you can.
Plus, there are a bunch of other factors to consider when deciding where to sell, so let’s take a look at some of the main points.
- Language: One of the first, and most important, things you should consider is whether or not you can communicate with your sellers. English is generally the world’s lingua franca, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find fluent English speakers in every country. One way around this is to use third-party software that offers customer support in multiple languages, like Fulfilment by Amazon. One way to err is to use Google Translate.Oh, and if you really want to make an awesome impression on your buyers, tailor your spelling to reflect that in each country (i.e. British versus American versus Canadian English, etc.)
- Cultural Differences: Although the world is becoming more homogeneous each year, there are still acute cultural differences to be aware of — accidentally insulting your buyer base is the last thing you want to do! For example, let’s say you sell sporting/casual wear clothing. While it’s perfectly reasonable to sell skimpy bikinis and Speedos to Americans, you probably don’t want to do the same to more modest/conservative countries. Do your research ahead of time to avoid such faux pas.
- Legalities: Any time you cross a border, there are plenty of legalities and red tape to think of. There’ll be a bit of a learning curve to this, but you’ll never want to get on the wrong side of the taxman. Either educate yourself about things like customs regulations, taxes, tariffs, paperwork and prohibited/banned items, or hire an expert to do it for you.
- Shipping: Once you’ve got actual sales, you have to ship out those products. And if you’ve taken heed of the above point, then you know you have to customise your dealings to match each country. Take currency, for example. Will you offer the option for buyers to purchase items in their native currency, or will you stick to just the ‘big’ global ones (i.e. euro, pound, yuan, dollar)?And just because someone’s bought something doesn’t mean they’ll be totally happy with it, so what kind of return policy will you have in place? With every new country you branch out into, you’ll be opening up a host of different options to consider for your shipping options.
- Website: Finally, when it comes to international selling, you absolutely cannot ignore your own website — it’s your brand and what defines you as a seller.Make sure to keep cycling novel content so you rank higher in Google searches, display your contact information prominently, have an FAQ section that answers questions before they’re asked, and make sure to show off the reasons that make you special (such as updates, social media links and/or coupons/discounts).