What we learned at RBTE 2016

We had the pleasure of attending the Retail Business Technology Expo 2016, one of Europe’s largest retail events.

The RBTE had all retail angles covered – with payments, lighting, store design, security, online and brick-and-mortar all represented.

The London Olympia was packed with a variety of engaged companies, from innovative startups and bespoke solutions providers to industry juggernauts like Tesco, Netsuite, Sainsbury’s, Boots and more.

But what stood out to me about retailers at this event was a reliance on two things:

  • One selling channel – the website
  • Traditional support channels – like Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone

Going International

As you look to grow your business, it’s important to broaden your horizons beyond domestic borders. Restricting yourself to one market will hinder your company’s potential.

However, many retailers experience the same perceived costly barriers to entry when looking overseas:

  1. Language
  2. Scalability
  3. Market knowledge

Selling abroad doesn’t have to be a costly venture once you make cost-effective decisions, like selling in established online marketplaces and using scalable customer support tools, rather than pushing your website and brand to that country and hiring more staff.

Becoming Multichannel

Are you a UK retailer looking to sell beyond your borders? Easy – sell on Amazon’s European channels.

There are easily accessible markets of well over 100 million people at your fingertips through Amazon Germany, Italy and Spain. If you’re unsure about this strategy, don’t worry – plenty of sellers are already doing it successfully.

Only half of Amazon Germany’s sellers are German, and one in five of its sellers are UK-based, according to EcommerceNews.

Solve your scalability issue and sell on platforms that are already established in those countries, like Amazon and eBay. If neither of those platforms suit your products, have a look at the other 333 marketplaces in Europe.

Selling to established online marketplaces also helps reduce the risk of expanding to unfamiliar markets.

Supporting New Markets

Scaling customer support is essential in becoming a sustainable international business.

Supporting your customers through phone and standard email clients like Outlook and Gmail will inevitably become unmanageable and will affect your ability to grow your sales.

This doesn’t mean you need to balloon the size of your customer support team. It’s about giving your business the tools to deliver the same excellent customer support experience to any customer, any time, anywhere.

It’s time to rethink how you can scale internationally while ensuring that excellent customer support goes along for the ride.