As this is my first blog post, I would like to begin by introducing myself. My name is Lorna and I manage the international sales in a small-medium sized ecommerce company based in Northern Ireland. The Rug House was set up in 2007 and began selling successfully on Ebay, Amazon and their own website. This year in particular has featured significant milestones for us as a company with a constant drive for expansion, including opening our first bricks and mortar store last month, beginning the redevelopment of our website with a high-end website development company, installing a high tech stock system and of course setting out on the road to international success.
I have been in my current job role for only 8 months after graduating from a degree in French as Spanish translation, so as you can imagine, this job really is a daily learning experience. The aim of my weekly blog posts will be to give you an idea of the challenges I’m facing as a “newbie” in the world of international ecommerce, managing our current international sales and my pursuit of further expanding our international profile.
Along with many other things, I have been working hard over the past 7 months on increasing our International sales on the marketplaces. I haven’t been giving much attention to our Ebay listings as they are currently managed by a company called WebInterpret until we have our stock system in place to allow me to manage them myself. Our Amazon sales, which have shown a 78% increase in international sales turnover since January and a 115% increase in international sales have therefore been my priority, so here’s a little breakdown of how our success has been achieved so far.
Amazon.com, which I set up in February has proven to be quite a success and I’m really looking forward to what the Christmas season will bring in terms of US sales. After spending a lot of time localising our search terms and working on prices and shipping costs, I feel that it is really paying off and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the fruits of your labour! The only thing that we’re having difficulty with regarding US sales are the dreaded customs charges, so I’ll definitely be writing a post on this when we have a clear system in place for dealing with them. Working with Fedex has been a great experience and has allowed us to ship to the United States and Canada (which now make up 40% of our total international sales) with relative ease and very few hurdles. We also have a fantastic account manager, who goes above and beyond to help us out and give advice, something that is invaluable when exporting outside of the EU.
As for our EU sites; Spain, France, Germany and Italy, which were all set up this year, (Germany and Italy along with Amazon.com) I made the decision to have all of our product listings translated professionally because I felt that the more products we have on offer, the more chance of acquiring sales. I therefore signed up to an online freelancing organisation called “ODesk” where you can hire freelancers from Translators to Creative Writers to Digital marketing specialists. I spent a bit of time picking the right native translators for each language and overall it has been a success and has proved to be cheaper than working with a translation company. It’s also great because I’ve developed close relationships with my translators, something which I don’t feel you can achieve with a big company. ODesk’s system is great also, because I can keep an eye on how long each translator is taking on a project and can observe their work method in their work diary through regular automatic screenshots that are taken when the freelancer is logged in.
Our EU sites are performing well, but France is by far our most successful market and for that reason we have chosen to have a fully translated French website, when the new website is up and running this year. Over the past few weeks I’ve taken advantage of my French language skills and worked on ensuring our Amazon France listings were optimised as much as possible i.e. using google adwords to find the best search terms and making sure the titles included as many relative keywords as possible. Our Amazon France sales have increased since last month by 14%, so that’s great to see, and it shows that little changes can make a big difference. I now plan on doing the same for the other sites soon.
In my next blog post I plan on talking a little bit about the work that I’m doing in preparation for own new international website and anything else that next week throws at me, so don’t forget to check it out and see what I’ve been up to!
If anyone who is also starting out in international ecommerce has any questions for me or would like some advice, I can’t guarantee that I’ll have the answer but I’ll certainly do my best to help, or indeed if anyone has any advice that they would like to share with me, please feel free to get in touch by tweeting @OpentoExport with the hashtag #LornasBlog.
If anyone would like to know more about The Rug House, please feel free to visit the website at www.therughouse.co.uk.