There are more and more international and expanding e-shops in the world, and the decline of this trend is not expected even in the coming years. The reason is simple.
The foreign e-commerce environment brings the opportunity to reach new customers and thus move your business a step forward. For many e-shops, the local market is small, so expanding abroad is the right solution for progress.
And that is regardless of the need to maintain competitiveness, for which, in order to keep pace, the internationality of business has become, so to speak, a necessity. E-commerce is constantly growing, both in terms of the number of sales channels and the volume of customers who prefer online shopping more and more often.
This is also supported by Statista data, which shows that e-commerce generates nearly 20% of total retail sales. This is even an approximately two-fold increase over the last four years.
Their forecasts continue to speak of growth, which is a huge opportunity for e-shops to jump on this international train. However, this does not only bring benefits in the form of a larger volume of customers and thus profits, but they will also find situations that will test many an experienced seller.
Not every e-shop is ready for foreign markets
First of all, it is essential to consider whether the product has sufficient potential to appeal to customers abroad. Not every product or style of business suits the international market.
Some customers will be put off by a type of product that may already have a strong presence on the market from the competition. Furthermore, it can be, for example, the usefulness of the product in a specific country or its cultural presentation, which can affect a certain group of consumers.
Therefore, it is advisable to first thoroughly map potential customers, market demand, customs, and traditions of the country in which the e-shop wants to operate. On the other hand, there is the question of whether the e-commerce seller knows how to ensure logistics in a certain country, knows the laws and rules when selling, or whether he has sufficient financial resources to expand his business.
And these are just a few points that significantly threaten successful expansion. It can also be about transportation, technology, payments, and many others.
Expansion in detail
The expansion of e-commerce businesses abroad requires ensuring several basic points so that the whole process runs as smoothly as possible. However, mistakes can’t always be avoided.
But the most fundamental ones can definitely be avoided. In our opinion, what should not be forgotten when expanding can be found in short points:
- Duties and taxes are different in several countries – financial rules for selling and delivering products to customers also require research. Every country has its own rules.
- Fast delivery – The success of an e-shop is often determined mainly by the speed of delivery. Customers currently require delivery within 24 or 48 hours of entering the shipment. Therefore, the e-commerce seller must immediately make deals with several courier companies. However, there is much more to do to ensure speed of delivery. That can be, for example, by how quickly the product can be sorted, packed, and delivered to the courier. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare for an increase in orders, either by securing new premises, employees, and technology, or find another solution.
- Multilingual e-commerce – During expansion, the e-commerce channel must also undergo changes, which must be adapted to customs and especially to the language of the country. The introduction of the English language in non-English-speaking countries may not be enough. This is especially so if the e-shop plans to offer its products to the widest possible group of customers. It is also necessary to adapt various graphic elements or the style of the channel to the customs of the country.
- Expansion of payment options – Payment habits can differ significantly across several countries. For example, in one country, consumers prefer cash on delivery, in another, it can be bank transfer. But PayPal, Google Pay, payment by cryptocurrencies, and many others can be popular options as well. Therefore, it may not be advantageous to expand on only one payment option. In addition, the currencies in individual countries must also be taken into account. Prices must therefore be prepared in several currencies and listed on the e-shop pages.
- Claims and returns – About a third of products ordered online are either reclaimed or returned to the manufacturer. This trend works everywhere in the world, so the introduction of returns management should be taken into account when expanding. It must be fast enough so that the customer does not have to wait weeks or months for notification. E-commerce and logistics must also be adapted to this, either on the basis of the e-shop or by creating return branches in individual countries. In addition, one should not forget the customer service, which must be ready to answer customer questions in several languages. The easiest way is to prepare a Q&A of the most frequently asked questions. In the case of individual questions, it is then necessary to respond quickly and sufficiently informatively.
Dip your toe in the waters of international sales
If the e-shop expands without the help of third parties, it does not hurt if the expansion to the new market takes place gradually. In this case, it is ideal to create an expansion plan that includes all the factors that came out of the market research.
It may therefore be worthwhile to test the waters of expansion first in one foreign country. Here, the e-commerce business will discover its strengths and weaknesses in acquiring new markets.
It will also find ways to better reach new potential customers in other countries. With the experience gained, the next steps of the expansion plan are easier and more certain.
Shortcut to the international market
Transitioning to the international market is not an easy matter, so a crutch can significantly help with it. These include, for example, marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Shoptet, and the like.
Thanks to them, the e-shop can already reach the usual international customers. It has a customized interface and pages, which eliminates a large part of the worries. On the other hand, it means a retreat from business flexibility, i.e., e-commerce business must adapt to the usual marketplace standard.
Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL fulfillment company is therefore a more significant crutch when addressing international markets. The e-shop is covered by the entrepreneur, but thanks to the fulfillment partner, he can completely let go of logistics.
From the storage of goods, sorting, packaging, and fast delivery to several countries, to the management of cash on delivery, claims and returns, or many other steps of the process. E-commerce business still needs flexibility, and thanks to an experienced and international partner, it gets a ticket to international markets.
Experienced fulfillment companies have knowledge of the rules that work abroad, have their own transport channels, and know how to adapt to the needs of e-commerce clients. Regardless of the working process, which can even save on logistics costs that the e-shop would have to incur on its own.
A helping hand in expansion by Fulfillment by FHB Group
We have been operating in the market of fulfillment services for more than 15 years. During that time, we helped many e-commerce clients with complex logistics solutions that greatly simplified their expansion into the international market.
Our modern warehouses are located in the heart of Europe, which we use with our daily transport lines to quickly deliver packages to several countries. For last-mile delivery, we cooperate with a wide range of courier companies, thanks to which we can ensure delivery within 24 to 48 hours to almost all countries in the world.
In many years of our operation in the fulfillment area, we have experience in delivery even to countries like America, Australia, and many other more distant areas. Thanks to our extensive range of services, we are therefore one of the largest fulfillment companies in Central and Eastern Europe.
Our transport services are complemented by top class A warehouse capacities, which are equipped with modern technology. We regularly invest in automation and information systems, thanks to which we can be the market leader and offer the most up-to-date and most advantageous services.
In addition, we provide management of cash on delivery, returns, and claims for clients. By leaving the responsibility of your logistics to us, you can put these worries out of your mind and focus fully on the parts where your business excels.