Expanding your online business needs planning and professional support. Without a clear understanding of the key elements involved in expansion into a new market or region, the project could fail, or worse, destroy your business.
According to Statista, in 2018, about 1.8 billion people worldwide purchase goods online, with global e-Retail sales amounting to US$2.8 trillion. Projections show a growth of up to US$4.8 trillion by 2021. So how do you know if your online business is ready to expand?
Before taking steps towards the international market, you first need to ask:
- Is your product or service globally appropriate?
- Would your product sell everywhere that you want to expand into, and have you researched the market?
- Does your product or service translate into other markets?
- Is your product or service limited by local demand or cultural boundaries?
If you have considered these questions and determined that global expansion is right for your business, the following 6 tips can help you determine a working strategy to succeed in new markets.
Global + local = glocalisation. The concept is as simple as its mash. When you expand to a global market, you need to consider how your product or service can be applied to the local market.
A well-known example; when a big fast-food retailer entered the Chinese market, it adapted its menu to local tastes, offering spicy varieties of chicken and options to include rice rather than fries as a side dish. This campaign was hugely successful and sees the brand remain a strong figure in the industry in the region, where it is considered a lower-end restaurant rather than a fast-food outlet.
On the other hand, a well-known burger retailer did not adapt its Western-style food for the Chinese market. The chain was not popular. It was forced to revise its strategy in order to expand in the region, but it did not do so for many years and spent huge amounts of money pushing a product that was not altered to suit the market. Because the brand has the financial resources and global recognition, it did not damage the brand, but it did limit their growth efforts. Not very many businesses can maintain such a narrow view and stay afloat.
- Site Translation
Your website needs to communicate your business in the local language – nuances and all. If you have ever spent time using Google translate, you will understand that it does not and cannot convey the meaning of a language. Sometimes automatic translate options miss the point altogether.
You need to have a professional (human) translator work on your site and write your content in the language of the market or markets you are entering.
You should also consider the appropriate language and terms for the region you enter. When a car manufacturer launched a small car in Europe, it had not considered that the model name of the car in the language of a specific market translated to ‘lemon’. The car failed to sell. It wasn’t until this fact was revealed that the manufacturer was able to adjust the model name, but by that time it was already a local joke and the car did not sell in the region.
- Adaptable Rollout
As you enter new markets, your strategy should have a linear approach, however, this approach should have some flexibility. Your product rollout into various markets needs to have a strong common theme so that it can be identified in a globalised market, but it also needs to be adapted for the regions in which the rollout is taking place.
Consider the various festivals, religious periods, or political climates of the regions you are marketing in and plan around those events in ways that are respectful and adaptable.
Understanding the growth and needs of your business on paper can be different to the reality. Your expansion campaign should have key indicators for growth so that you know when it is time to make changes in various areas of your business. From customer care to product manufacturing, it is imperative that you monitor growth and have action plans in place to meet with demand.
Using professional BOS’s that can react as you require in the market you have entered is an opportune way to meet demands and retain control over expenses.
- Pricing and Compliance
When entering any market you need to understand your product or service pricing scale and your responsibilities for selling in that market.
While your product or service might need slight adjustments to be attractive in a market, in some cases this would see you lose money. It is important to research the market of the region for other similar products before entering the region to ensure that your venture can be profitable.
You also need to understand any restrictions, regulations, taxes or even bans on offering your product or service in a region. Some regions ban gaming sites, others will require that you hold various licenses or pay a certain bracket of tax. Before expanding to a new market, it is important to get professional advice about the responsibilities and regulations of eCommerce industries for the region you intend to serve.
- Operations Plan
Much like scalability, you need to have a well-developed operations plan in place to service the market you enter. If you are selling a physical product, you need to understand manufacturing, distribution, delivery and other aspects of handling the product that affects your costs and commitments to customers.
You also need to consider that if your product or service is successful, you need to be able to maintain supply in the region. Taking the time to organise the logistics of your expansion is vital to the success of your venture. The delivery of your product or service should not be an after-though in your expansion plans, you need to have an understanding of how your business will be functional in a new region, and you cannot assume that delivery methods or services will work the same as they do in other regions.
Choosing to expand your e-Commerce business should be a planned decision. When you prepare for the success of your business you are likely to see that success with higher returns and smoother operations. Seeking professional advice and understanding your goals, and how they can be achieved in a certain market, will put your business in a place to succeed.
Know Your Market
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