You have a company in the US or UK and business is good. To keep growing, you want to expand overseas. The world has over 7 billion people and that is a lot more than your local market. Online trading – e-commerce – lends itself excellently for it. The Internet knows no borders. With the knowledge you gained in your home country with your business and website, you’re ready to go abroad. But to succeed abroad, this knowledge is not enough. There is a strategic approach needed. In this blog we’re giving you some tips for online expansion abroad.
There are many issues to consider when growing to be an entrepreneur. The better the preparation, the greater the chance of international success. Just deciding in which countries you want to open your digital doors requires appropriate preparation.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of major e-commerce tips: both general recommendations and tips for breaking the language barrier.
Immerse yourself in the countries you want to expand to so that you get a good idea of the culture and the local market
Besides the fact that it is interesting to know more about a country with which you are dealing and its inhabitants, it is also useful . Whether your product or service will find customers will also depend on the cultures of the country.
Understanding the culture helps also to avoid later conflicts. Cultural differences influence the way we communicate and interact, as well as the way we express emotions. The more you are aware of these differences, the more you can keep in mind.
Through thorough market research you will find out whether your product is suitable for a particular country or a particular culture. You can find out whether the residents are already familiar with your product or service, or there is enthusiasm for it, or that the market may already be saturated. You may wonder in the latter case if you can face the local competition.
Foreign laws and regulations
Each country has its own laws and regulations in the field of e-commerce, but also for example in the field of importing and exporting. It is essential to be aware of these rules. Issues such as online payment, duties, competition law, environmental guidelines, for example. Fortunately, there are several consultancies and websites which provide tips and recommendations for expansion into certain countries.
Spend your marketing budget on a party who knows the local market
Not all countries are familiar with online shopping. Many people are afraid of fraud or identity theft. Your shop should therefore be safe, reliable and promote this. Locals know how to enter the market for you. They know how to win the confidence of local consumers, for example by meeting specific quality requirements and to put labels on your local website.
They are also aware of what preferences the potential buyers have concerning visiting shops. Generally the eCommerce preferences and trends in different countries are the same, but do take into account variations associated with differences in culture.
In the China for example, to find buyers, it’s very important to provide mobile shopping and to easily find products through an efficient search. Germans love orderly, organized websites that exude quality and are very user friendly (ie efficient), and Spaniards are themselves little more price oriented. A luxurious look to your website could be helpful.
Take care of your customer service and social media in the native language of your customers
You want your customers to always feel comfortable when visiting your website. They speak their language and the possibility in that language to lodge a word of complaint, to give feedback or ask a substantive question, contributes greatly to your site’s popularity. That way, your customers can make it exactly clear what they mean, and you can make sure that they understand your reaction. Last but not least: the provision of customer service in the mother tongue inspires confidence in potential buyers.
This also applies to social media. For consumers it is not only pleasant to read your social media channels in their own language, they want to talk with you and possibly affect other buyers. Therefore, not only translate your business page, but take on native speaking operators as staff who monitor the various channels for you and answers for you.
And last, but certainly not least : Localize your shop and keep the content current & multilingual, so your customers can shop in their native language
Your potential customers want to be in an online shop where their own language is used. Therefore let experts translate your website into Chinese and keep it up-to-date. Without innovative translation technology it is not possible to do this. Therefore, you’d better work with a Chinese translation agency that uses this type of technology, which links your CMS to an interactive translation platform.
Also note the following issues:
- Register a domain name for each country, so that search engines think you are established in those countries. This way you can get the most out of search engine optimization.
- Keep the layout of your multilingual website account of the fact that some languages take up more space than English. If you fail to notice this, then the translators are in trouble, which has consequences for the quality of the translated texts on your website.
- Be sure to localize the meta-data for your shop SEO. Also keep the length constraints in mind: meta tags often have a word limit.
- Let native speakers translate your content and make sure they are well aware of your wishes regarding writing style, terminology and tone of voice. The clearer it is, the sooner you are happy with your translations.
- Pay attention to your SEO policies to be easily found through external search engines. The keywords that you base your content in the US differ from the keywords that work in other countries.
- Working with translation memories and terminology lists to produce consistent translations and save time and money by text sections that have been translated previously, which need not be translated again.
Have a website or web shop to be translated? Or want some advice on this?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.