Secrets to your e-commerce success
E-commerce refers to the act of selling and buying via the Internet. This definition includes transactions in which not all of the activity takes place online. A website may play a role in informing a buyer about a product or offer for which the purchase takes place offline. Similarly, a goods producer or wholesaler may depend on distributors or retailers in other countries to sell goods to customers using their own e-commerce channels. E-commerce is virtually an essential approach for both large and small businesses now that almost all products and services are online. Indeed, if you haven’t already moved at least some of your business operations to an online model, you could face major threats from those competitors who are already doing so
Consumers of all sorts expect to be able to browse and make purchases online. Because of this, many businesses are jumping online and creating storefronts to compete for sales. In today's world, shoppers who may not have shopped online were forced to when brick-and-mortar stores closed and/or only offered buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) options.
The questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your ecommerce export potential
- To what extent is your business currently successful in its domestic operations?
- Are you struggling to fill orders?
- Does your product require a lot of servicing or follow-up assistance?
- Does your product have wide appeal in many markets and cultures?
- Does your product respond to a uniquely Indian need?
- Will you have to modify your product to appeal to a wider customer base?
- Can your business withstand the financial strain of exporting?
- How will you finance production and shipping costs until payment is received?
- Do you have the capacity to serve both your existing domestic customers and your new foreign clients?
- Would you have to make modifications to your product to comply with the various regulations in foreign markets (e.g. regarding labeling, packaging,pricing)?
- Would the cost of transporting your product make competitive pricing a problem?
Do your market research
When exporting to other countries market research is an important step to develop a plan for your ecommerce business. It will help you to;
- Identify potential markets to target your exports.
- Learn about your customers and their preferences.
- Identify potential barriers to entry and other information that will help you plan your exporting endeavors.
- Identify distribution channels, partners and routes to market.
- Create a realistic marketing budget (for example, commissioned market research, overseas travel, trade events, ensure marketing collateral, translation services and product customization).
- Do proper research on your competitors in the target market and look whether you can afford to price your product most attractively.
- You can use the market research to help with target market localization; you can create a separate website with local language, showing local currency which will help you sell better in the target market
- When considering exporting, don't move too quickly. Consider "testing" your product in one or two foreign markets. This would help you identify unanticipated factors that may hinder product acceptance and also determine how viable exporting is for your business.
1. Modify your products for foreign markets
Before entering a foreign market, you need to be sure your products are suitable in their current form. You need to consider both the tastes and preferences in your foreign markets, as well as the specific foreign regulations that apply to your products. Note that these will vary by country, so you may have to limit the foreign markets where you sell your products.
Some examples of product characteristics you may have to change include:
- The name of the product (there are many stories of businesses that have launched products in foreign markets, only to discover that the product name has a negative connotation in the local language).
- Labelling (such as changing size measurements to the Metric or Imperial system, for example, or providing instructions in several languages).
- The product itself (for example, to meet local standards, to ensure compatibility with the local electrical power system).
2. Find the most appropriate e-commerce platform
There are various online platforms you can find your customers, there are websites like Business to Consumer (B2C) website like Ebay.com, amazon.com, wish.com there are even country specific B2C sites like walmart.com for USA. There are even Business to Business (B2B) site like DHgate.com, alibaba where you can sell your products on bulk. There are sites like wix, weebly, shopify which can help you create a website and sell your products globally through payments this website can help provide a customized shopping experience to your customers. Regardless of the platform, be sure it optimizes on mobiles, where many prefer to do their online shopping. For something even more customized, you can hire an e-commerce web developer.
3. Determine how to get paid
The payment methods change for every business based on their type;
- If your business is an international export business which is into exporting bulk products, you might prefer to get your payment in your bank account through cash in advance, Letter of Credit and Bank transfers, you will need an AD (Authorized Dealer) code, a code issued by your bank only for current account holders, for receiving payments from foreign banks.
- If you do ecommerce exports through an ecommerce platform, the platform provider will ask either for a PayPal account or checking account based in US, website like payoneer provide virtual bank A/C with a very few steps and documents for various countries.
4. Sort out your delivery service
E-commerce veterans say delivery is one of their biggest challenges. Be clear on your site about delivery times and costs and choose a reliable shipper with international experience.
Once you have made a sale, you need to get your products to your customer. The international shipping process can be complicated at best. Shipping can be broken down as follows:
- Packing – Since your products will change hands several times throughout the entire exporting process, you need to make sure it is adequately packed, so that it will arrive at the destination safe and undamaged.
- Labelling – Proper labelling ensures that your merchandise is handled properly and gets to where it is going in a timely manner.
- Documentation –The export process requires certain documents to accompany your shipment as it travels to its ultimate destination in a foreign country.
- Insurance – By insuring the merchandise you ship, you are protecting your investment against damage, loss, theft, and even delay.
There are various parties involved in shipping business which help for delivery to International locations
- Freight forwarders are agents who assist exporters in moving cargo to an overseas destination. They are knowledgeable in foreign importing requirements, exporting requirements, shipping processes and documentation requirements. Typically don't cost the exporter anything since it is common for their fee to be calculated into product pricing and passed along to the customer.
- Custom brokers can help you fill out necessary paperwork and find your HS code. They can help you understand the export and import regulations that affect your product. They can assist with the process of clearing customs (it is recommended that you choose a customs broker that specializes in your product and has a thorough understanding of the country to which you wish to export).
- There are ecommerce platforms which operate as fulfillment houses for ecommerce exporters handling all from the inventory storing to shipping to you customers door.
5. Provide top-quality after-sales service
Good customer service is essential in an arena where bad customer-service stories can go viral. Similarly, good customer service yields word-of-mouth recommendations and repeat business. Remember that you may encounter language barriers in responding to customers — have a solution for that. If you can’t respond around the clock, use an auto response that assures customers they’ll hear from you.
Support for your customers is crucial to ensuring repeat business. You can do this, of course, through traditional methods such as telephone, email, fax and the postal system. But a good e-business customer support system can give you an edge. The potential impact of social media—positive and negative—should also be considered, especially when dealing with tech-savvy customers.
Privacy is a major concern for potential online customers. You will need to convince them that any electronic transactions they make with you are secure and that their privacy and personal information will be protected.
It’s important to clearly define your return policies for online customers abroad to ensure customer satisfaction and avoid costly transactions.