The 2016 Pitney and Bowes Global Online Shopping study estimated 66% of online consumers are international. This percentage is likely to grow in the coming years.
Having said that, before you jump the international e-commerce bandwagon, it is important that you focus on certain areas for long term success. As we provide you with the following tips, you would need to be mindful of the fact that the e-commerce race is a marathon and not a sprint!
- Don’t Hurry: Launching your e-commerce site shouldn’t be done in a hurried fashion. There is only one shot you have in launching your site. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all functionalities of the site are working properly. Do a thorough testing. You can purchase a domain name and create a pre-launch page on the lines of “Coming Soon”, but until you have done significant groundwork in terms of content, technology, functionalities, SEO, paid advertising planning, don’t launch!
- Consumer is the King: The user or the consumer should be the focus of your e-commerce venture. Notwithstanding the recent advances in augmented reality and artificial intelligence, the big shortcoming that you would have to deal with is the fact that the consumer cannot touch, feel and smell the products before buying. You can compensate this by offering better prices, free shipping and more importantly, simplified shopping carts and a hassle free checkout with a seamless payments solution.
- Testing: At every stage of your e-commerce business (pre-launch, launch and growth), you should test everything, right from functionalities to user experience and user interface. Hence, it is imperative to invest significantly in testing and analytics.
- Social Focus: Do not outsource social media marketing at the starting phase of your e-commerce venture. It is indeed the heartbeat of your business. Through social media you can gain valuable insights into prospective customers. As an entrepreneur, you would need to be hands on with your social media. You can employ a community manager but you need to keep a close watch on your social media marketing. Include social elements on your e-commerce website. Small elements like reviews, social login options and follow/sharing buttons help in conversion.
- Mobile: Way back in 2014, Goldman Sachs had predicted that global mobile commerce will account for nearly half of e-commerce by 2018 amounting to a figure in excess of $620 Billion*. If you aren’t building your e-commerce portal with a mobile first approach, then there’s no point in venturing at all.
- SEO: Over time, Search engines have evolved to be more valuable for e-commerce sites. In fact, most of your traffic will come from search engines as people are increasingly searching for products on Google, Yahoo or Bing. Therefore ensure that you stay on top of SEO to stand out among competition. You may need to hire an agency to help you out with SEO in the beginning.
- Information and Evolution: Make it a point to collect as much of customer information and build databases to aid future launches of different versions, categories or a new sister site. Lastly, evolution is a critical element because technology, trends and consumer tastes/preferences change over time.
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*Source: Digicommerce 360