5 Things you need to take into account before Internationalizing your Online Store
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The internationalization of your online store is a big step to take, both on a business level and a personal level. And while there are numerous advantages right from the start, such as the fact that you don’t need to open physical stores or even be in the country, opening up operations in another territory is not as simple as it sounds.
Expanding abroad can become a complicated and time-consuming process. So before you start thinking about hiring people from the country in question, check out this list with the top 5 things you need to take into account before internationalizing your online store.
Cultural and Linguistics Differences
Each country has its own culture and this directly influences the way of living and consuming of its potential target audience. Given this, one of the first questions that must be asked is: is your product suitable for any country?
With this question we do not want to know if the product will be successful in the country that you choose, but if it makes sense to go there. When we go to another country, there are norms and values that will change. And when it comes to expanding a business, you need to take a good look at the differences and take them into account to increase the acceptance of your product.
For example, an online shoe store is a good fit for virtually any country in the world. It is something used daily by billions of people, so there is no barrier to its use. However, selling leather shoes in India, where the cow is considered a sacred animal by the majority of the population, may not be a great idea. It is even possible to do so, but will people buy products that go against their beliefs?
If there are no barriers to your product, the next question is related to the country’s existing knowledge about this types of products. And in this case we don’t mean your company, we mean the products’ market. How is your market in the country?
Returning to the previous example. If you sell shoes in your online store, you will not need to educate consumers in most parts of the world because people are familiar with it. However, if you sell, for example, craft beers, you have to check whether in that new territory this is a known concept. If this is not the case, prepare to spend a large part of your time, and money, educating the market.
However the education of the population is not necessarily negative. By working to make your product type known, there is a possibility that your company will become the top of mind brand for this type of product.
In addition to the product, your online store also needs to be accepted. There are certain countries for which you shouldn’t have a website just in English. It’s necessary to translate your entire website into the country’s native language. You may even need to rewrite and adapt your product descriptions and return policy to the country’s culture.
Legislation and taxes
Even with the advancement of globalization, many countries still have restrictions on the entry of various products originating in other countries.
For example, there are certain countries for which it is not possible to market alcoholic beverages, as in the case of mainly Muslim regions such as Saudi Arabia and Brunei.
Another important aspect to check is the laws in relation to the country’s taxes. To expand to a new country you need to know all the conditions related to taxes and how they work there for your type of product and for your audience. These are important rules to know because they directly influence how you will work in this country.
Online buying behaviour and online payments
After analyzing and concluding that your products will be accepted in the country in question, it is time to study consumer’s online shopping behaviour.
Expansion into a new country implies changes at a social level, as people’s attitudes change from country to country. And this implies different ways of thinking, acting and, consequently, buying. And the further you go geographically, the more this mentality changes. And even if you decide to go to a neighbouring country, the culture will already be completely different from yours.
For example, in some countries, online stores are well accepted only by the youngest and in some they are used by the entire population, virtually without the distinction of age.
Another interesting aspect to check is the preferred payment methods of consumers. The most used online payment methods differ from country to country, so you need to know the most frequent one in the territory where you’ll go to and add them to your store.
There are many more things you need to change and adapt before you internationalize your online store, including your product in certain scenarios. There is a lot of damage that you can cause by not doing this. And you may not even be able to pass the initial phase. So examine yourself and your online store: are you prepared and willing to change certain aspects to increase your chances of success?
Certification of required resources
There is one major reason to expand overseas: the potential increase in sales. Entering a new market translates into more people and more potential customers. You are increasing your chances to sell.
But before you consider increasing your sales, you need to make sure your online store can handle it. That is, if you can handle the increase in business volume in all aspects of your business, either that being stock management, the number of orders and even the traffic of your sales platform.
It’s hard enough to get a consumer to go to your company’s website, so a slow website or unavailable products will have a great impact on the way the consumer sees your store online. In addition to increasing the likelihood that they will not return to your page, it can also generate complaints on social networks, which could affect your reputation and wreak havoc in the long run. Something that could be avoided by not internationalizing.
Another aspect to keep in mind is the ability of your online store to handle the economic costs and the time needed for an expansion. As we said above, despite not having as many expenses as a company that opens a physical store, you still need to adapt your communication to the new country. And to do so, it is necessary to do a small market study or even hire someone with knowledge of that market and then make and implement this new communication. And if your store takes off, it will still take time for you to make a profit on that particular market. So you have to make sure you have the resources you need to sustain the expansion of your business.
Shipping Partner and others Survey
In addition to a company needing to function well internally, its partners also need to run smoothly. And in the case of an eCommerce, a good shipping partner, is something imperative for its operation and for its success.
It is your shipping partner who will ensure that your orders reach the end consumer and in turn this is all that consumers will remember from the shopping experience. And the consequences of poor delivery may be irreversible. And that does not change from country to country.
Therefore, if you are going to export your products from one territory to another, check for good carriers in the country in question and also check that they are suitable for your needs.
So, is your online store ready to internationalize?
If you find that there are no barriers to your product being accepted in the country where you want to open a new operation, if you think you can adapt to the cultural differences you will encounter and if you can make your online store work well, both internally as in terms of partners, then you are well on your way to internationalizing your online store.