If you’re not selling abroad online, now’s the time to start. Right now the home market is less than perfect, so branching out into other marketplaces is a good way to expand your business. It doesn’t matter which marketplace you are looking into joining – there are a few things you need to consider beforehand.
There are many different marketplace platforms which make the process of competing online as simple as possible – Amazon, eBay and many more allow you to create accounts in a number of different countries and marketplaces. But where to begin?
Start with Market Research
Market research is essential, without it you could fall flat on your face. Whether it’s for a new product or a new marketplace – you need a good understanding of how it works and where you fit in to the big picture. You may need to conduct some primary research of your own. If secondary sources are not clear or don’t give you a good indication on whether the market is suitable then you will need to evaluate for yourself whether the product is likely to be successful.
So start by looking at the marketplace of interest – is there a gap in the market for your product? If not, you need to be able to do it better or cheaper than the already established competition within that market. It may seem obvious, but it’s also important to decide who you’re going to be selling to. On the face of it there may not appear to be much variation from market to market, but try selling Eastern European fashion to Western European women or vice versa. No dice. The same segments in different countries or markets have different needs and wants, so get to grips with exactly what they are before starting.
A factor which links heavily to this is price. How much are you going to sell your products for? This requires scrutiny of economic, cultural, political and social factors. Evaluate the state of the country’s economy. It’s easy enough to find out whether it’s flourishing or failing, which has a direct impact on the amount of disposable income available to citizens. So, if you have a high-end product range, it’s not commercially feasible to sell it in a country with high unemployment and debt rates.
Finally, if you think there will be demand for the product – make sure international buyers can find it! You will need to list the products in new places and in different ways. Search engine optimisation will is essential so that searches for your products will be seen by the right people.
Right, now that you’ve investigated the economic climate of the country, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty. Yep, money. This is where it’s sensible make a spreadsheet of the exact costs involved per unit.
The first thing that springs to mind is of course international shipping fees. That’s the basic necessity of getting your product from A to B and it is, of course, going to cost you more than shipping domestically. There are a lot of influencers in cost with this: size and weight of your product and the distance of destination, duties and customs legislation, the list goes on. Obviously posting an eyeliner to Paris is going to be cheaper than shipping shoes to Australia, so get yourself down to your local Post Office or go online and check out the postage costs for weight and size.
Do some calculations and see how much it would cost to ship per unit. Think about the method of transport too – are you going to standard post it, or use a well-established and trusted courier like UPS or Fedex. Don’t let the cost put you off – assuming you’re going to start small and not suddenly put all your products in a foreign market, gradually absorbing higher shipping fees isn’t a difficult thing to do. If you ship regularly through the same courier you can ask them for preference pricing and get discounts on shipping your stock.
Another crucial aspect to consider is different currencies. What’s the conversion rate like between your currency and that of your desired country? Bear in mind that they are constantly fluctuating, so it’s something which needs to be kept under supervision or swings in values can affect profits. Foreign taxes could also play a role in shipping to another country. Different regions and territories have different taxation, as do the countries within them. So shipping for example from one EU country to another will not have any tax-related impact, whereas if shipping outside the EU, traders could encounter tariffs or trade barriers.
So you’ve figured it’s safe to go ahead with selling abroad. Now how will you be paid? Accommodating transactions from international buyers is important to maintain sales so think about using a world recognised payment system like Paypal, it makes it easier for both parties. Also, make sure to update your currency settings – if you can’t then just put an indicative value next to it, for ease of use for the buyers.
Finally, be proud of the country you’re based in and enjoy delving into this new market! You’ll encounter some interesting people with interesting questions and insights, so just take it slow at first Get to know the intricacies of the new culture and how they conduct business – Rome wasn’t built in a day. You may find that their expectations are different to what you’re used to dealing with but you will find your feet in the end. Don’t forget that it’s a good thing to be trading from England, Australia or the US – we still have a good trade reputation internationally, so take advantage of it!