Guest blog by Emil Stickland from Thrive Digital
Testing a new international market
International expansion is a daunting proposition, especially when it comes to ecommerce. There are a multitude of issues that be cause for deliberation. These include: logistics, trust, preferred payments and speed.
When entering a new international ecommerce market, testing is prudent. It is much less expensive to explore an idea initially than to dive in head first, and you can use e-marketplaces to help.
Logistics – Use Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA)
Amazon is famed for its phenomenal logistics, and this is no different cross border. You may not be using FBA for domestic ecommerce, but when going overseas, you should consider using it in the first instance. It is likely going to be better than using your existing distribution for international sales, and it will cost you a fraction of setting up warehouses and logistics overseas.
E-marketplaces already have international reputations for ecommerce. Consumer opinion often is very high. In the short term, this is something that is exceedingly difficult to replicate (or even come close to). Building a reputation with customers can take years, and is not something that you want to invest in for a test. You can take advantage of another company’s reputation easily, through selling on their site.
If there is an e-marketplace that is popular in your target country, they will have already thought of this. They will have set up secure payments for the most popular options of payment, saving you massive amounts of time and complexity.
Consumers like shopping on fast websites. Slow load speeds lead to high bounce rates. Rather than worrying about foreign CDNs and international load times, just let an e-marketplace do it.
An international ecommerce market ready to be tapped
One of the most important reasons to be present on e-marketplaces, however, is that there is a ready market for your product. More than taking advantage of their infrastructure, you can take advantage of their customers. This is an incredibly cost effective and efficient way of testing the market for your products.
If you can sell on e-marketplaces in your target market, there is an international market for your products.
The importance of automation and product feeds
It is key when you are doing any type of international ecommerce, especially on e-marketplaces, that you look to minimise that amount of time that human beings are spending doing tasks that can be automated.
Assume that you have only 100 SKUs on your website, and then you want to test these SKUs on (for example) Amazon in Europe only (which is 5 marketplaces). This means that you will need to manage 600 SKUs. 100 SKUs on your website, and 5 x 100 SKUs on Amazon. Every time you want to make an edit, the work must be replicated 5 additional times. This is not an effective use of time.
Now imagine that you have 100,000 SKUs and want a global strategy on all relevant marketplaces. The number of hours spent uploading products quickly becomes unfeasible.
Having a single system to manage all websites and e-marketplaces massively lowers the marginal cost of each SKU with the same upside. Not to mention is can provide a single interface for stock management, marketing, logistics, finance and other key systems.
Make sure you are automating product feeds, or you are wasting time.
It’s a big piece, but not the whole puzzle
It is important to remember that e-marketplaces fit into a strategy, and are NOT the only piece in the ecommerce puzzle.
Marketplaces provide a ready market for products that people are searching for. So, use this to create your low cost, low margin option. This way, you can access a market relatively easily. Keep in mind, that you are always trying to lead them to a higher priced, higher margin product on your own ecommerce site.
Find out more about how e-marketplaces fit into a wider strategy.