Published On: Thu, Apr 5th, 2018

What To Know About Expanding an e-Commerce Business Internationally

When you start an e-commerce business, you might inherently think that you’re going to be selling to customers all over the world. After all, isn’t that the beauty of selling online? There are no borders?

The answer is yes and no. It is possible to sell to customers internationally and expand your business, but there are specific things to consider in doing so.

If you think your online business is ready to go international, the following are some things to think about.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

International Payments

You will have to first think about the logistics of accepting international payments. For example, if you want to start your expansion in Peru, you’ll have to think about not only how to receive money from Peru, but also how to send money back if things like returns are necessary.

You don’t want to spend a huge amount of money on fees, and you need something relatively simple.

Many U.S. merchants don’t accept international payments because they are subject to higher fees, and there are more risks of chargebacks and frauds. You’ll probably set up a completely separate account for handling international payments.

In many countries around the world, customers are going to want to pay through options like bank transfers and direct debits, so keep this in mind.

Check Country Restrictions

Different countries have different things that are prohibited from being shipped, so you need to think about this when you’re choosing which items will be available to international customers.

You can use the USPS international shipping tool to check on these restrictions. In general, the safest bet is to opt for items that aren’t fragile, are small and lightweight, and aren’t likely to be returned.

Targeting International Customers

You will have to think about how you’ll target international customers. One option is to start incorporating certain countries into your SEO strategy. You can do this by creating geo-targeted landing pages for the areas where you want to expand your business.

You can tailor content on these pages to the specific audience and country, and you’re more likely to appear in searches.

Another option some people use is opening different stores in different regions. You will have to juggle multiple stores of course, but it can help prevent issues with payment gateways and other similar obstacles.

Localized Paid Ads

If you’re running an e-commerce store, you’re probably also running ads. When you want to expand internationally, you will have to alter your strategies or at least expand upon your current paid advertising.

You want to add the new countries you’re targeting to your custom audience at a minimum, but the better option is to create a new custom audience for the region you’re targeting.

You will have to do some initial research, as you did with your U.S.-based advertising, but once you get a specific targeted audience for different regions, you can let your ads do a lot of the work for you.

Finally, you may want to work with a third-party to manage shipping. Shipping internationally can be difficult to manage, and there can be delays. A third-party can help with this, as can being transparent about how long shipping times are going to be. Always try to manage expectations.

Author: Carmelo Hannity

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