International eCommerce: 10 Steps to Sell Your Products Internationally
Selling your products internationally is a rewarding challenge that can heavily impact your sales.
While there are huge advantages to selling internationally, it’s a good idea to prepare before jumping in.
Here are 10 steps to help you start selling internationally from your online store:
01. Do Market Research
Every successful market strategy starts with good research.
Make sure you understand the overall demand for your products in your country, as well as globally. Then look into the following:
Customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value
Gaps you’ll need to bridge
Price ranges and possible profitability
02. Choose an International Market or Cluster
Find the best place to start. Selling internationally is tough and you’ll likely need to build your skills and tools as you grow. So don’t just jump into selling to all countries - pick a specific market to target.
Then, let your research guide you. Choose the right international market or cluster where your market research shows the demand for your products is sufficient. Make sure you plan accordingly, by budgeting and creating measurable goals.
03. Learn the Rules and Regulations
Before you jump into a new locality, make sure you’re up to date on any laws or restrictions regarding selling or shipping your items in that location.
The most important thing to make sure is that your products are neither on the restricted items list, nor the prohibited items list. Remember that even parts of your products can be marked as prohibited or be deemed too dangerous to ship.
Having dangerous components does not mean malintent – some restricted items are as innocent as batteries. And while it isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, it may mean your products cannot travel by air, which will prolong delivery times or result in a high handling fee.
04. Marketplaces Vs. Online Stores
You’ll have to decide whether you want to sell in an existing marketplace that knows how to do international commerce, or whether to build it up from the ground yourself.
The tradeoff is between heavy lifting and profitability.
Sell internationally using marketplaces:
Order fulfillment is handled by a very well oiled machine
Local sales tax and regulations are handled by the marketplace
Higher platform costs means you can expect lower profit margins
Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay receive a much higher number of returns & refunds
What you need to do:
Integrate your store with Amazon, eBay, or others. This is extremely simple on Wix, and should take you a few minutes, but can be done on all platforms one way or another. You may need to further customize your account: For example, to sell internationally on eBay you may need to add Paypal, and reach certain thresholds on both sales and reviews.
Sell internationally from your own store:
Control everything about your brand and your business
The international fulfilment process can be complex
You’ll need to take care of sales tax rules. We strongly recommend avoiding any manual work around taxes choosing the automatic and simple way by integrating your store with sales tax automation tools like Avalara.
05. Localize Your Store
Build trust with potential shoppers by helping them easily understand all the information on your store.
The first step to localizing your eCommerce website is to add more languages. Hire a native speaker to go over ALL of your pages to make sure your content is culturally sensitive, grammatically correct and in line with your brand.
This means all texts and images are appropriate and present your business in the right light. Take your time with this step as you handle all other aspects of this process.
Not only is this important for building your brand identity in a new location, it will also help you reduce returns and refunds due to things getting lost in translation. These kinds of mistakes can be costly when it comes to international shipping.
06. Display Prices in Local Currencies
People want to shop in their own currency. Add a currency converter to your eCommerce website to automatically swap currencies depending on the shopper’s location and language.
Make sure your converter updates on its own so when you run sales or modify your pricing, you won’t have a lot of manual labor waiting for you.
07. Connect an Adequate Payment Provider
When it comes to choosing a payment provider, there are few things you should take into account. Ask yourself the following in order to choose a viable payment provider:
How do people actually prefer to pay in your target market?
Do they use credit cards or Paypal?
Are they used to paying in cash, or a two-step payment provider like in Brazil and Japan?
Do they respond well to buy-now-pay-later options?
Take the time to learn about the best payment providers for your eCommerce business before choosing yours.
08. Handle Your Fulfillment and Shipping
A huge part of successfully selling products internationally is being able to deliver your products as fast as the local market expects – and preferably faster.
Here are some tips to make sure that happens:
Check customs and international shipping regulations.
The penalties of not knowing the rules are delays and costly fines.
Look into costs for shipping internationally.
Taxes, fees, duties and tariffs vary depending on where you’re shipping from and where you’re shipping to.
Pack your products safely.
Choose the right size package for your product’s shape and weight.
Avoid empty space. After all, you’re paying for this.
Seal your boxes securely. Nobody likes receiving an open package.
Attach clear labels, otherwise it won’t get shipped.
If you’re selling high-end products, consider paying for shipping insurance. Peace of mind is worth a lot.
Find the right shipping provider.
Connect a shipping vendor who ships internationally. Try to work with a single vendor that covers all of your target markets. This is critical when you’re selling to numerous countries.
Offer different services to cater to more types of customers. Choose a carrier or a shipping app based on:
Credentials in the countries you’re shipping to
How frequently you send there
Price (How much is your customer willing to pay?)
Speed (How long is your customer willing to wait?)
Third party fulfilment companies can do much of the heavy lifting when shipping internationally. While this will eat into your profit margins, it might be worth it in terms of effort and fulfilment quality.
09. Mind Your Marketing
It’s important to be mindful of your marketing strategy in order to best target your new customers.
Keep in mind that your products may appeal to different sorts of shoppers with different marketing attributes, depending on the location. For example, a mid-market watch in Mexico may be perceived as an affordable one in Canada.
This means you’ll have to put in the time to understand who you’re targeting and adjust your marketing plans accordingly. This should include everything, like your ads budget, the influencers you choose, the best affiliates to connect with, and the range of discounts you’re willing to give.
10. Keep Your Customers Happy
Selling internationally may bring with it a whole new set of customer complaints, especially with regards to sizes, shipping times, and – of course – refunds and returns.
Do whatever you can to respond to your new customers quickly, respectfully and professionally. A happy customer will keep coming back and tell their friends to come buy too.
Ready to start selling? Create your free online store today.
Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.