Author: Extensiv Sep 07, 2023 8 Min READ

Guide to International Ecommerce [2023]

8 Min READ
Guide to International Ecommerce [2023]

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As ecommerce transcends borders, merchants are increasingly discovering the allure and challenge of global expansion. While the prospect of reaching international customers is tantalizing, managing complexities—ranging from cross-border payment methods to supply chain optimization—is no small feat.

A global ecommerce strategy doesn't merely entail translating your website into different local languages or converting prices into local currency. It's about mastering the delicate art of providing seamless online shopping experiences tailored to diverse consumer behaviors, local customs, and evolving market trends.

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This article delves into the intricacies of international ecommerce, offering actionable insights and strategic considerations for businesses eyeing new markets. Along the way, we'll examine how advanced ecommerce solutions can help businesses break down barriers and capitalize on opportunities in the global market landscape.

The world may be getting smaller, but when it comes to international ecommerce, the devil is in the details. From tariffs and localization to conversion rates and shipping options, the path to global expansion is fraught with obstacles that require tailored solutions and meticulous planning. Read on to discover how to optimize your ecommerce business for a world stage, backed by technology that helps you adapt, scale, and succeed.

Why Your Ecommerce Business Should Expand Internationally

The digital age has shattered geographical boundaries, enabling ecommerce businesses to transcend local markets and tap into a global customer base. Brands like ASOS and Amazon are sterling examples of how going international can propel ecommerce sales to stratospheric heights. With an astute understanding of localization, payment methods, and customer experience, these giants have successfully penetrated foreign markets, proving that the world is indeed an ecommerce business’s oyster. But why should your business consider a similar path? Here are compelling reasons that justify the leap across borders.

Access to a Larger Customer Base

Local markets, especially in smaller countries, can offer limited growth prospects. However, the online shopping landscape is booming globally. For example, Australia and the United Kingdom are witnessing impressive ecommerce sales growth year-over-year. By expanding your reach, you not only cater to online shoppers in different countries but also diversify your target market, increasing opportunities for new customers and improved retail sales. Implementing an effective customer relationship management process can further enhance this expansion and help develop long-lasting relationships with international customers.

Diversification of Revenue Streams

Relying on a single market for your revenue can be risky. Economic downturns, local competition, and market saturation can adversely affect your ecommerce business. International expansion enables you to diversify your revenue streams, buffering against financial volatility. Payment options like PayPal, Sekure, and credit cards make it easier for omnichannel businesses to transact across borders, fortifying multiple revenue channels.

Capitalization on Emerging Markets

Countries like Brazil and other parts of Latin America are emerging as fertile grounds for ecommerce. A well-strategized entry into such markets can offer first-mover advantages and establish your brand before the competition tightens. Moreover, these markets often have untapped needs that established brands can fulfill, thus optimizing the business for a unique set of demands and preferences.

Leveraging Global Trends

Ecommerce platforms and marketplace trends vary significantly from one region to another. Amazon might be a leader in North America, but local ecommerce platforms like Alibaba hold sway in Asia. Adapting to global ecommerce trends allows your business to leverage market-specific advantages, from SEO considerations to preferred payment methods and local currency pricing. Such adaptability can offer a competitive edge that's hard to beat.

Improved Supply Chain Efficiency

Managing international orders may seem daunting, but with the right technology, your supply chain can operate like a well-oiled machine. Advanced order management systems can automate order routing, real-time inventory visibility, and even optimize shipping costs, ensuring your operations are as efficient as possible. For instance, platforms like Extensiv Order Manager offer powerful automation features that can seamlessly integrate with various ecommerce platforms, enhancing overall functionality and operational efficiency.

Customer Experience Tailored to Local Preferences

Localizing your ecommerce store goes beyond translation. It means understanding the checkout practices, shipping options, and even the social media channels popular in your target country. Meeting these country-specific preferences improves the customer experience, thereby boosting conversion rates and fostering customer loyalty.

The allure of international ecommerce is not just in its potential for revenue growth but also in its manifold strategic advantages. Through thoughtful planning, localized approaches, and the use of integrated technology platforms, businesses can successfully navigate the complex landscape of global ecommerce.

Top 6 International Ecommerce Trends For 2023

As the ecommerce landscape continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve means adapting to emerging trends that define how businesses and consumers interact on a global scale. This year, several key trends have surfaced that are set to shape the international ecommerce ecosystem. Brands such as Amazon and ASOS have been early adopters, but these trends are by no means exclusive to the giants of the industry. Here's a deeper look at the international ecommerce trends dominating 2023.

1. Accelerated Use of Mobile Shopping

The smartphone has evolved from a communication tool into a shopping assistant. Mobile commerce or "m-commerce" is no longer an option but a necessity. For instance, Alibaba's mobile app caters to the vast user base in China and beyond, offering localized promotions and leveraging native mobile functionalities. In essence, ignoring mobile commerce is sidelining a massive chunk of your potential customer base.

2. Personalized Shopping Experiences

Personalization is not just a trend; it's fast becoming a standard. Amazon's recommendation engine uses machine learning algorithms to offer personalized product suggestions, thereby increasing cross-selling opportunities. This trend extends beyond just recommending products. It includes tailoring website content, sending personalized emails, and even providing customized packaging. Tools that can integrate customer data and adapt content accordingly—be it in an email or a homepage—can be crucial for crafting personalized experiences.

3. Subscriptions for Client Retention

Customer retention through subscription models has been a remarkable trend, providing businesses with predictable revenue and consumers with convenient, continuous service. Companies like ASOS have leveraged subscription-based programs like 'ASOS Premier,' which offers free express shipping and early access to online sales for an annual fee. With automation capabilities like those found in order management systems, managing subscription orders becomes significantly easier, allowing businesses to focus more on customer engagement strategies.

4. Sustainability

Sustainability has gone from a buzzword to a business imperative. Customers increasingly prefer brands that are ecologically responsible. ASOS’s ‘Responsible Edit’ and Amazon’s ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ are initiatives that showcase sustainable products. Businesses can use order management platforms to optimize stock levels and minimize waste, contributing indirectly but significantly to sustainability goals.

5. Automation and Real-Time Data Analytics

As the ecommerce landscape becomes more complex, the role of real-time data and automation in driving decisions cannot be overstated. Ecommerce businesses are using sophisticated platforms to gather actionable insights for everything from customer behavior to supply chain management. For instance, Extensiv Integration Manager offers real-time synchronization and an experienced integration team, streamlining operations and ensuring real-time accuracy in data.

6. Blockchain for Enhanced Security

Blockchain technology is making inroads into ecommerce by offering enhanced security and transparency. Companies are using blockchain to ensure the authenticity of high-value goods, track products through the supply chain, and even facilitate international payments. While still emerging, this trend represents a significant move toward a more transparent and secure international ecommerce environment.

By understanding and adopting these trends, ecommerce businesses can position themselves more favorably in the competitive global marketplace. The integration of advanced technology platforms not only streamlines operational complexities but also empowers businesses to offer a more enriched, personalized, and secure shopping experience to customers worldwide.

How to Expand Your Ecommerce Business into International Markets

In the age of globalization, expanding your ecommerce business internationally isn't just an ambitious endeavor—it's often a strategic necessity. From tapping into larger customer bases to diversifying revenue streams, the benefits are plentiful. However, expanding across borders is not without its challenges. Here's a guide offering actionable tips on how to make your ecommerce business globally competitive.

Conduct Thorough Market Research

Before you plunge into international markets, it's crucial to understand the landscape you're entering. That includes identifying key competitors, the target customer base, and prevailing market trends. This phase will provide you with the insights needed to tailor your offerings to local preferences, ensuring your product or service fills an existing gap or outperforms local competition.

Develop a Solid Market Entry Strategy

Entering a foreign ecommerce market without a solid strategy is like sailing without a compass. Consider factors like local regulations, cultural nuances, and the competitive landscape when crafting your market entry plan. Assess various modes of entry, such as direct selling, franchising, or partnering with local businesses, and select the one that aligns best with your business objectives.

Localize Your Website and Content

Localization goes beyond simple translation. It encompasses adapting your content, currency, and even design elements to reflect local culture and buying habits. This makes your ecommerce platform more accessible and relatable, which can significantly improve user engagement and conversion rates.

Optimize Your Logistics and Shipping

Logistical efficiency is the backbone of any successful ecommerce business, more so when you're dealing with international shipping and potentially complicated customs processes. Leveraging advanced warehouse management system (WMS) software like Extensiv Warehouse Manager can streamline operations by offering real-time inventory visibility and robust scanning capabilities. This ensures your goods move seamlessly from the warehouse to the customer, irrespective of geographical barriers.

Offer Secure and Convenient Payment Options

International markets often have varied payment preferences, ranging from debit/credit cards to digital wallets. Providing multiple payment options can significantly lower cart abandonment rates. Ensure that your payment gateways are secure and comply with local financial regulations to build customer trust.

Optimize for International SEO

SEO practices that work in your home country may not have the same effect internationally. You'll need to consider local search engines, language-specific keywords, and geo-targeted content to maximize your visibility in foreign markets. Tools like hreflang tags can help Google understand which language you’re using on specific pages, enhancing your international SEO efforts.

Build Partnerships Strategically

Establishing local partnerships can offer invaluable advantages. Whether it’s a supply chain partner, a marketing agency familiar with the local landscape, or a retail partner with established customer bases, strategic collaborations can accelerate your growth and enhance your market credibility.

Expanding your ecommerce business internationally is a monumental task that requires meticulous planning, a deep understanding of local markets, and the leveraging of advanced technological solutions. By following these actionable steps and integrating robust systems, you can mitigate risks, maximize rewards, and make your mark in global ecommerce.

Top International Ecommerce Platforms in 2023

As we move deeper into the digital age, the ecommerce landscape continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, marked by fierce competition and a myriad of opportunities. The emergence of global platforms has made it easier than ever for businesses to reach customers beyond their domestic boundaries. These platforms are not just facilitating international trade; they are shaping its future. Let’s look at some of the platforms that are taking ecommerce beyond borders in 2023.

Shopify

This Canadian platform has taken the ecommerce world by storm. With features that enable multi-currency payments and international shipping, Shopify has become a top choice for businesses aiming to go global. Fashion brand Allbirds, for example, used Shopify to expand their sustainable footwear to over 35 countries, harnessing its easy-to-integrate third-party applications and scalable infrastructure.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source platform that offers exceptional flexibility, making it a popular choice for those looking to tailor their international storefronts meticulously. Its compatibility with WordPress allows for seamless content integration, as evidenced by its use by Airstream, a U.S.-based travel trailer manufacturer that successfully broadened its international reach.

BigCommerce

Known for its robust backend customer support and enterprise-level security features, BigCommerce has carved out a significant slice of the global ecommerce pie. Companies like Skullcandy have used this platform to build a robust global ecommerce strategy that includes multiple languages and currencies.

Amazon Global Selling

The ecommerce giant's international selling program offers businesses an almost turnkey solution for global expansion. With fulfillment centers spread across the world and an enormous customer base, Amazon Global Selling offers unparalleled reach. Brands like Anker, a China-based electronics firm, have leveraged Amazon’s global network to reach customers in over 100 countries.

Squarespace

Though initially known for its website-building capabilities, Squarespace has significantly broadened its ecommerce functionalities. Its elegant design templates and simple drag-and-drop features make it easy for businesses to create eye-catching international storefronts. Artists and designers, in particular, have found Squarespace to be an effective platform for selling their work globally.

The global ecommerce platforms mentioned above have democratized international business, making it easier for companies to extend their reach beyond home markets. By understanding the capabilities of each platform, businesses can make informed decisions that align with their international ecommerce strategies, allowing them to capture new markets and capitalize on global trends.

Effectively Expand Your Ecommerce Operations with Extensiv

Global expansion is not just about broadening your reach; it's also about refining your operations to meet the challenges of the international marketplace. While the ecommerce platforms mentioned above can set the stage for global selling, businesses need operational prowess to convert international potential into realized gains. This is where Extensiv steps in with its specialized offerings tailored for international ecommerce.

Extensiv Order Manager provides a streamlined, automated system for order routing, inventory management, and shipping. The power of automation becomes especially pertinent when you're dealing with orders across multiple time zones and jurisdictions. By centralizing your ecommerce inventory and orders, this operational tool allows you to manage complex, multi-platform operations with ease, thereby focusing on scaling rather than troubleshooting.

Going international often means connecting with various marketplaces, shopping carts, and operational tools. Extensiv Integration Manager acts as the middleware that seamlessly integrates these varied systems. It connects order sources like marketplaces and shopping carts to order destinations like inventory management systems (IMS), order management systems (OMS), and warehouse management systems. This ensures not just operational efficiency but also compatibility across platforms, a non-negotiable requirement for international ecommerce success.

In a global ecommerce ecosystem where agility and adaptability are paramount, Extensiv offers targeted solutions designed for scale and efficiency. Companies that have implemented Extensiv’s Order Manager and Integration Manager have experienced marked improvements in operational throughput and reduced manual errors, setting the stage for effective international expansion. In a marketplace that's continually evolving, Extensiv's offerings provide a sturdy operational backbone that enables businesses to keep pace with global demands.

To learn more about Extensiv’s platform and solutions for brands looking to expand internationally, schedule a demo today!

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