Practical Global Online Retailing – The IORMA Guide to the practicalities of selling products Online to Global Consumers
Before considering a web site and all the exciting, challenging “gee-whiz” aspects of technology, basic headline fundamentals of selling goods to consumers globally should first be considered:
- Have you got products to sell which will appeal to consumers
- Can the consumer obtain those goods just as easily locally at a store or through established major domestic or international online or multi-channel/Omni-Channel retailers who already have a known and trusted brand
- Can these same goods be obtained by the consumer elsewhere at cheaper prices, with or without International Delivery charges and any duties
- Do you actually make the products and have them in stock
- Do you buy the products from a manufacturer or wholesaler
- Does the manufacturer/brand/wholesaler control what goods can be sold in what country and at what price. Do existing country specific distribution agreements already exist in given countries/regions for the sale of a manufacturers branded goods
- Are there any country/regional restrictions on the sale of certain types of goods (e.g. Electrical goods, Chocolate Liqueurs can contain alcohol … some countries do not permit the sale or import of any form of alcohol to consumers)
- Are you very clear about the messaging that needs to be conveyed to interest those consumers in buying your products … messaging which has to be conveyed to global consumers of widely varying backgrounds, ages, languages, cultures and interests
- What methods of marketing are available to you, by all channels, online and off-line. Think not only of language, but phrasing, terminology and spelling too
- Think about your product descriptions e.g. American’s don’t buy “Jumpers” they buy “Sweaters”, Americans don’t buy “Trousers”, they buy “Pants”, American’s don’t choose “Colours” they choose “Colors” … etc., etc. etc.
- What payment methods can you offer, with whom and in what currencies
- Cash on Delivery is commonplace in many countries
- What fraud checking procedures do you have in place or can be offered by your payment provider
- Consider the impact of “chargebacks” where the customer (or alleged customer) can obtain a refund of their whole payment (including any delivery charges) from the payment provider who in turn then will re-charge the whole payment to you even if the goods have not been returned to you
- Consider carefully the range of carriers which can provide real global delivery
- The cheapest carrier may not always be the best (Parcel Tracking and Proof of Delivery can be very important)
- Does the global carrier sub-contract to another carrier to complete delivery in a given country/region
- Cash on Delivery can be the normal method of payment in a number of countries globally; can the carrier offer these services and when and how do you actually receive the funds
- Does the carrier have any restrictions on the types of products or “packed” dimensions and “packed” weights of products that they will deliver to different countries
- What documentation does the carrier require to go with any packets or parcels
- What return address do you quote in case the parcel cannot be delivered to the customers designated address
- What procedures does the carrier apply for any goods that they are unable to successfully deliver
- Consider what arrangements and policies you wish to offer customers who may wish to return products
- Decide what address you wish customers to use when sending any returns
- Does the customer need to contact you for you to establish why they wish to return their goods
- How should customers return goods and who pays the carriage for those returns (the customer or you)
- Consider what procedures will apply for refunding the customer payment for any returns (the cost of the returned goods themselves which the customer has already paid for, and the carriage charges the customer may have to pay for, unless you pay the return charge or provide free return labels)
Damaged Goods/Faulty Goods/Goods not received
- Question 1 … do you actually believe it if a customer tells you that the goods were received damaged, faulty or not received at all
- Will you give a full refund, offer an allowance (e.g. 10% refund if partially damaged) or request the item to be returned.
- Will you issue a replacement (and who pays for the replacement and its delivery)
- Whose fault was it if the goods were damaged; the customers, the carrier, the manufacturers insufficient packaging, or your own insufficient packaging (e.g. for glassware)
- What procedures have you in place for dealing with customer enquiries from around the world:
- Regional time, holiday, week-end variances … almost requiring 24/7 service
- e-mail, Telephone, text messaging etc. ?
- Multi-lingual capability?
Different countries have different regulations concerning protection of consumer data (e.g. customer names and postal addresses, e-mail addresses, etc.)
Have you taken legal advice regarding any practices, procedures and wording that you may require to trade globally
Are you adequately insured for trading globally with consumers and for despatching goods (especially valuable goods) to different counties and regions
… and then there’s selling online, the web site, social media, search engine optimisation, online marketing etc., etc .
This initial report simply outlines some of the many practical areas to be considered with global online retailing. This report forms the first in a series of forthcoming IORMA Guides on the whole, very detailed and complex subject of selling remotely online to consumers around the world from the U.K.
IORMA has a team of specialists with vast, detailed and practical industry experience in the whole arena of global online retailing. IORMA would be pleased to assist any individual or company considering the provision of global online retailing.
For further information, please contact IORMA at:
t: +44 (0)207 096 1729
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