A Brief Guide To Selling Globally

Are you planning to go global with your current local online store? Or, have you already taken this step forward and now are stuck with various issues? Whether you are the former case or the latter one, your game in the international market needs a timely and continuous update.

Global Ecommerce is a trillion dollar market right now. Researchers have predicted an estimated growth to $370 billion in 2017. But what you might not know is- setting up every online store comes with a failure rate of 80%. With huge success comes a huge load of responsibilities.

Commerce is a basic domain of Seller-Buyer relationship. If you are a seller, it is your responsibility to keep your customers satisfied.

One thing that needs to be cleared right away is- Global selling is far away from local selling. We are talking about apples and oranges, literally. Your range of audience has widened by masses, you have a much larger scope and variety to offer and sell.

Below are some of the major hurdles that entrepreneurs worldwide face. If you are one of them too, then keep on reading. We are sure to answer some of the question you have.

While setting up any business you need pre-define some aspects. So, while going global you need to decide on these 4 major aspects.

Steps of selling internationally

How To Get Started?

This is an absolute nightmare for so many  entrepreneurs out there. This step is crucial to determine what you actually want to sell and what to expect.

1. Market Research

Do you think electronic products you are selling will do good in US? Do you feel your product is unique for Australian public and may need some explicit marketing?

These type of questions will help you determine whether what you are selling will perform good or not. These are the type of questions that need to come to your mind. And, answer to such questions come by an intensive market research.

Demands of people vary with places they live in. You can make a rough draft of what countries you can sell in to earn highest profits at the feet of these basic bits of information.

2. Learn The Rules and Regulations of Your Market

The very second step to getting started would be to know about the rules and regulations of the particular market you are planning to sell in.

These rules can be related to products you sell. When you are selling in one country, this is not something you need to focus on. But working with multiple countries makes it your duty to take care that you follow rules of every place you are selling in.

Consider you are selling grocery online and seeds come in grocery too! Now certain type of seeds are banned the USA. Now, you can either eliminate selling seeds all together or would opt for adjusting inventory such that anyone in US sees it is stocked out.

There are many apps and smippets out there to help you with this setup. If you are a Shopify user, then  Multi Country Pricing lets you set country-specific inventory.

We are not specifically talking about products getting banned. Rules and regulations also refer to taxing anatomies of various countries.

If you’re selling or doing business globally, it’s essential to map out the VAT landscape there. China, India, and other more than 160 countries charge VAT.

Tax collection has been a matter of doubt for many. If you plan to sell in different countries at the same time, you need to configure taxes collected at each of these stops.

Some countries collect Goods and Services Tax (GST), also known as Value-Added Tax (VAT) in other countries. Now, how much tax is collected varies in accordance with countries and many other factors like where you are based, where buyers are based, what you are selling, amount of your sales, etc.

What you need to take care of is,

  • Which country collects how much and what type of taxes.
  • Whether they can be collected at the time of purchase only, or after delivery.
  • Whether you can set country-specific pricing such that people see the final amount including taxes while checkout.

After getting a complete idea of taxes being collected, where and how they are collected, you are all set to move on to further steps. You need to register for VAT and collect taxes accordingly.

If you get taxes incorrect, countries impose penalties and some serious actions could be taken. Many taxes collected can be recovered, however, that action needs to be remitted to government for legal compliance.

How to Design an Appropriate Website?

After you are done with the previous step, the next step is to make sure your website is ready to face your global audience. Your website is the face of your business and the only brand carrier among your international clientele. Hence, it is inevitably necessary that you showcase them the best one.

Below discussed are a few major obstacles that you can target to design a website that actually converts audience into buyers.

Language Barriers

 However un-obvious it may sound, English is neither the first language of many people nor is it the language of preference for eCommerce activities. It is undeniable fact that most people prefer to browse products in their own language: the one that they fully understand and use efficiently.

Research shows that English-only websites reach less than 25% of Internet usage worldwide. It is not much surprising since 7 billion people around the world communicate in more than 6500 languages.

According to research carried out by Eurobarometer on 13,700 users across 27 EU member states, 42% of the respondents have never bought online in a foreign language. 56.2% of consumers say that obtaining information in their own language is  more important than the price.

The eCommerce world of today has overcome the language barrier by developing translation and localisation services that help to adapt a website to a foreign local market.

So what should international online sellers think about? You must remember to:

  • Localise, adapt and optimise your website.
  • Choose the languages of audience’s medium.
  • Make sure that your website, product search and check-out process are adapted to the local market.
  • Aim to make their shop look as local as possible.
  • Take into account their product, trends, marketing opportunities, business’ long-term goals and key drivers of e-commerce.

Localizing your store will inspire your customers with a feeling of confidence and trust.

Currency Barriers

Currency is one the trickiest aspects to deal with when expanding your business to the international level. Dealing with foreign currency can be confusing and time consuming for you and your customers. If you don’t sell your products or services in the country’s currency, you could lose many of your clientele.

One of the most important things that your company must consider when selling internationally is to price your products or services in local currency. Selling in local currency can be a little scary especially since dollar values fluctuate by the minute, but apps like Auto Currency Switcher on Shopify come to the rescue.

If stats are to be believed, 53% of your potential public leaves the store without buying at the checkout page. What could be the reason for this setback? Well, people are impatient! You have followed all the steps above and then stuck at this issue, then maybe your checkout page is doing something to drive them away.

One of the causes is that buyers find prices at checkout page in store’s default currency. Now it makes the condition for buyers worse when they have seen prices in their currency and now suddenly they find they have to pay in some other currency. Also paying to banks in foreign currency is a troublesome issue to handle.

Hence, to solve this issue you can use apps like Multi Currency Checkout of Shopify and leave your worries on app’s functionality.

Payment Barriers

So, your international buyer liked your product and is ready to buy it. The next step is getting payment. Since, you cannot go for Cash on Delivery Payment option, you have to offer payment gateway to accept online payments. You can integrate payment gateway like PayPal, PayU, etc., which accepts payments in international currency and transfer it to your account.

Shipping Barriers

Around 90% of world trade is carried out by international shipping. Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that Shipping is the backbone of international market. So there are a lot of aspects to be considered here.

You have to search for appropriate courier companies and tie up with them. These courier companies should be available in and around major countries of your sales. Companies like FedEx, Shiprocket could come to rescue.

Also, shipping rates is something you have to be very careful about because no one like that extra hole in the pocket for shipping rates. Hence, with apps like Multi Country Pricing, you can set prices in such a way that shipping gets included in the actual price of product.

How to Take Care of Shipping And Delivery?

As we discussed earlier, shipping and delivery are crucial to success of your business online. But inventory management is the ultimate challenge when we are trying to be efficient with our shipping and delivery.

Big business owners describe inventory management as a “nightmare”. You need the right products in the right marketplaces and channels to get sales, but the system must also de-list properly to avoid out-of-stocks. It sounds simple until grasping the sheer number of products and their variants that even small businesses can carry.

EFFORTLESSLY LISTING AND DE-LISTING

One way to get maximum results through minimum input in inventory management is Third Party System. Handing over this tedious work of listing and de-listing across multiple marketplaces is better handled by people who are specialized for the job. Some older systems still require employees to remove the product from each marketplace, which gives rise to ambiguities where selling of items they no longer have goes on.

On marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, you’re penalized if you get negative feedback from oversells and your products will actually show up farther down in the search results, causing you to lose sales.

TRACKING SLOW MOVING PRODUCTS AND SEASONAL STOCK

You have to be able to identify the products that aren’t selling because if you are not selling some product, then it is costing your money to just sit there without any revenue generation. It’s wasteful, and therefore your goal should be to weed out those poorly moving products, to focus on the products that are moving and actually making you money.

In this case, we want to identify those products and figure out what needs to happen to move it. Discounts, different marketplace or target audience, better product photo, or making it part of a lot are some options to help move that product.

MINIMIZING THEFT AND LOSSES

Accurate inventory management discourages theft by employees and leads to quick discovery of excessive loss due to damage or misplacement. You need trustworthy and competent employees. Having a system where people know that everything they do is being tracked and understanding they are held accountable for their transactions also helps with productivity.

Once firmly entrenched in international marketplaces, you can quickly identify problems with specific countries; for example, Russia and Mexico are believed to have the worst postal services in the world. Despite postal services being out of your control, you may still develop a poor reputation, making certain locations troublesome for business.

REDUCING CARRYING COSTS

Warehouse storage and insurance are two crucial costs to holding inventory. More products generally mean higher expenses. With a good inventory management system, businesses can more accurately predict what products they’ll need, allowing reduction in the number of unnecessary items they hold.

Tracking your inventory and having a goal for how many times you want to turn your inventory in a year is a key metric every retailer should know. This knowledge can increase gross profits, allowing you to spend more money on learning the best way to expand into international marketplaces, which increases sales and brand awareness worldwide.

Be Aware of Chargebacks

Chargeback is basically the reversal of standard payment process. In it, amount paid by the card holder or in most cases customer, demands for refund due to some (necessary to specify) reasons. As a form of consumer protection, the chargeback process is naturally skewed towards the cardholder’s safety

Let’s look into what stats  chargeback has to say about these “specific” reasons.

Chargeback Stats

While all the reasons found to be prevailing are genuine and throw your store’s glitches at customers, you can see 52% of this chart comprises of Fraudulent as its reasons for chargeback.

Businesses that open themselves up to international clientele reach a much broader market than businesses which remain strictly domestic. At the same time, opening up to international markets leaves merchants vulnerable to international chargebacks.

What’s the difference between international and domestic chargebacks? For starters, orders placed overseas with U.S. merchants are as much as three times more likely to be fraudulent than domestic orders.

This leaves merchants with a difficult choice: accept only domestic orders and give up the potential profit from international customers, or take international orders and accept the elevated risk of chargebacks.

Fortunately, there are many ways in which merchants can bring their business to the international market while still keeping their risk fairly minimal.

Tip #1: Analyze IP Addresses

To sort out suspicious and potentially fraudulent transactions, IP address can be used as an identifier.

If the geographic location for the IP address doesn’t match with the card billing address, set the order aside for manual review. If there is a mismatch and the IP address is in a high-risk country, the chance for fraud is greater.

For many merchants, accepting orders from countries like Indonesia and South Africa simply represents too great a risk. These merchants may prefer to simply block IP addresses associated with high-risk nations, thus making it impossible to view the site from those countries.

Tip #2: Only Conduct Special Orders with Trusted Customers

Carry out special orders with caution. Special orders involving customized merchandise are highly susceptible to chargebacks, as even the slightest variance from the customer’s ideal specifications can lead to dissatisfaction.

Even if the customer is satisfied with the product, they could still allege that the job was botched and demand a chargeback. This is an example of what is known as friendly fraud—a seemingly legitimate order for which a cardholder demands a chargeback in order to defraud the merchant.

Friendly fraud is especially damaging, as the merchant loses the profit from the sale, the merchandise already shipped, and is responsible for paying the associated fees and penalties.

Tip #3: Know the Red Flags of Fraud

There are certain behaviors and practices which merchants should recognize as the tell-tale signs of fraud. These include:

  • A customer placing multiple orders in a short time span and shipping to different addresses
  • The email address given seems to be a nondescript jumble of letters and numbers
  • The order was placed late at night, especially between the hours of 2:00-4:00 am.
  • The name and address is written in all lower case letters or contains spelling errors
  • The customer orders multiples of the same item
  • The item(s) ordered are of a high value

How to Promote Your Products on the International Market?

Last but not the least, store promotion to sell products internationally is a big challenge. Since, you are new to the market and of course, the international audience is not aware of your brand, firstly, you need to establish your brand and make it visible on the global platform. How to do that? Find out here.

Search Engine Optimization

Let’s start with free, slow yet effective marketing tactic, SEO or search engine optimization. If you want to sell products internationally, make sure that you target keywords that are popular in your target market, either national or national. Google will help you know which keyword has got traffic from which demography. Work on those keywords to get yourself listed on popular search engines of your international market.

Other than keywords, always use optimized images for product pictures. There are some coding practices that Google recommends like embedding all javascript together in one file. Your meta data should be such that all the description should be covered along with necessary keywords.

A lot of detailed information is out there on SEO. Make sure your SEO game is at the top and never fail to grab a good rank for your online store.

Advertise on Facebook

When we are talking about letting people all around the world know about our business, using social media is inevitable. Facebook is the next big thing when it comes to promoting your business and drive the public to your store. Why?

To understand why Facebook Ads can be such a great tool for your business, you first have to understand the difference from its main competitor: Google Adwords. So, how does Google Adwords does its thing is- The user searches something, they see your advertising, click on it, and buy your product or service. Pretty simple isn’t it? Demand fulfillment in its purest form. However, there are certain issues with this system too.

facebook-growth

On Facebook, you don’t care what your users are searching. On Facebook, all that matters is who your customers are. This means you’re targeting real people with real interests, hobbies, and jobs – not keywords.

You will need a while to figure out what works best for your Facebook Ads since it gives many options. These options are in terms of- What kind of shoutout it is, what type of people you want to target and for how much time and monetary investment you want to go.

Also, Facebook’s advert lets you target people pf particular cities, countries, etc. so there can’t be a better chance for promoting product in one or more cities where you are selling.

You will need a while to figure out what works best for your Facebook Ads since it gives many options. These options are in terms of- What kind of shoutout it is, what type of people you want to target and for how much time and monetary investment you want to go.

Use Google Shopping Feed

On an average, Google is accounted to process around 40,000 search queries every second (internetlivestats says) and this translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. And ofcourse, to figure this out, I had to use Google. So, it is evident that Google is way ahead in the game of reaching people and letting them know the surroundings.

Google Shopping or Product Listing Ads (PLAs) is among the most popular and efficient traffic driving sources right now. Google Shopping ads pop in the search feed when you search for a product in Google. They appear along the top of or often in the upper right hand side of a search results page.

Google Shopping Feed Example

You can also find these ads by clicking the “shopping” tab. What we really care about is the 1-8 shopping ads that appear on the Google search results page.

How to work with Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a fruit of two platforms working together: AdWords and Google Merchant Center. Google Merchant Center is where your product feed lives. It’s the details of your products organized in a format Google likes. AdWords is where your actual shopping campaigns live and where you’ll set your budget, manage your bids, gain insights, and make optimizations based on performance.

The setup and management of Google Shopping ads is quite a bit different from setting up traditional text ads. With text ads, you’re creating campaigns, ad groups and ads that are focused around keywords that you choose. With Google Shopping, Google determines when your product listing ads show up.

When you are selling internationally, Google Merchant lets you specify some details so that it becomes clear where and how you want your store in Google Feed.

Google Merchant Guidelines

They consider your feed, your site, and your bids to determine what search queries trigger your ads. Because of this, setting up shopping ads has some strong similarities to SEO.

Sell On Marketplaces

Another way of selling online to international markets is to sell on marketplaces. There are various marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc., which have global presence. You can list your products there and start selling online.

 

Above discussed are a few of the basic golden rules you can take care of. Global ecommerce is of the ‘troubled waters’ category. Yet it is full of fish! So you need to adapt a go-getter attitude and never give up. Keep yourself updated with the latest apps and technologies to grow your market hugely.

 

 

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