The explosion of internet use sees no end as billions of users across the globe log online daily. Those users are filling their virtual shopping carts and clicking “place order” more than ever before, a reality that translates into billions of reasons why merchants who deal online need to bring their wares to the international stage.
Growing your international sales can be the boost your business needs to thrive both now and well into the future. Seeking out markets overseas allows a wider customer base and can lift you from the mire of a sometimes saturated US market. It is a cost-efficient means of generating increased sales.
Retailers ready to go global must take into account the added costs and complexities. You’ll need to translate your website copy into different languages and have international customer service at the ready. You’ll also need to manage foreign currencies.
However, with a few tricks of the literal trade, you can successfully do business abroad.
You don’t have to go big or go home. At least not right away. It’s wise to grow slowly, especially as you learn to navigate the international waters of merchandizing. Choose your initial target markets carefully. Consider those just across the borders as costs and delivery issues are typically less. Working with foreign markets that share a language and general way of doing business creates less confusion, both for you and for your new customers. Starting small also allows you to do your research as you manage the logistics of import regulations, taxes and tariffs, etc.
The last thing you want to do is intimidate potential buyers ready to pay in euros or yen by pricing products and services in US dollars. Although these buyers can convert currency fairly easily online, it may take more effort than they are willing to expend. You don’t want to give them a reason to leave their shopping cart in the middle of the virtual aisle and be out the door.
You also want your pricing to be reflective of what similar items might cost in your international customer’s domestic market. What prices are they used to paying? What prices can they afford to pay? Considering your international customers’ spending power and whether or not they can and will pay the added expenses typical of international shopping will help you decide which markets might be profitable and how to price your products and services.
One of the biggest culprits for failed online buying transactions is problematic shipping and handling. Confirming that both the pricing and shipping policy are clear, concise and easy to understand can help combat these issues. Consider publicizing shipping charges specific to each customer’s home country on your homepage, which you can do fairly easily with available software. You can also maximize sales by offering a variety of shipping options. Those anxiously awaiting delivery are often willing to pay more to have box in hand as soon as possible. Others may be looking for a budget rate and expect you to provide it. Offering different price ranges for shipping is a great way to build trust with your customer base. Finally, be sure to provide an estimated date as to when the product will arrive.
You can sell all day long and twice on Sundays, but if you don’t get paid, you don’t get paid. You need to make it easy for your international customers to hand over their hard-earned cash. Just as plastic has become king in the States, many other countries also do business with credit cards. However, depending on your chosen international market, a variety of other payment methods are used. Wire transfers, cash-on-delivery, and PayPal-type payment services are all popular. Be sure to facilitate your target market’s preferred means of payment.
Doing business abroad takes vision, forethought and planning. But it’s a great way to expand your customer base and ultimately increase sales, and today’s technology makes it easier than ever before. So go forth and expand your business horizons.
Are you interested in increasing sales with an international merchant account?
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