Running a successful e-commerce business requires a unique combination of left- and right-brain thinking. To grow their businesses, retailers have to master a variety of topics, combining art, science and a large dose of determination and perseverance. This article describes the skills that every retailer needs, plus how to then easily hit the accelerator with a risk-free way to reach billions of global customers.
Once upon a time, growing a retailer business meant opening more stores. A retailer’s reach was determined by its physical presence. Then came the internet, and, suddenly, the market for a retailer’s products was no longer described physically. Instead, reach became a function of a retailer’s digital presence with sales growth created by increasing their “digital footfall.”
Unaltered are the basic skills needed to be a retailer, from selecting and sourcing products to merchandising them to customers and the economics of managing cash margin and cost to sell.
In our view, to succeed in e-commerce every business needs these 10 skills:
- Be logical and organised.
If you’re selling online you will probably be selling via marketplaces as well as your own site, so you are used to selling the same product in multiple places. That means being able to ensure stock information and pricing is accurate in order to maximise sales and margin and minimise customer issues. Adding new channels, such as marketplaces, is necessary for growth, but adds complexity.
A data management company such as ChannelAdvisor helps streamline the process of getting your product information to each marketplace, and control stock and pricing across them. These software systems take one feed of information from your in-house systems and then process the information to get it into the right format for each marketplace you’re sending it to. The reporting and management tools they provide will, if used well, help you maximise your performance plus will save you time and money.
- Keep track of products.
If you’re going to sell on marketplaces you will almost certainly require ‘GTINs’ (Global Trade Item Numbers) to list your products. GTINs are at the heart of successfully managing your products across multiple countries and marketplaces because while SKUs are customised to fit each retailer’s needs, each individual product only ever has one GTIN that’s used by everyone around the world. That makes GTINs a great way for marketplaces to match the same product sold by different merchants together, which improves the customer experience and makes it easier for marketplaces and merchants alike to manage their listings and products.
- Make the most of the products you have.
The cost to your business of sourcing and managing the products you sell is often a heavy upfront cost. The more units you can sell, the more profitable your business can be. So, if you can reach more customers, you’re onto a winner. Expanding internationally is often a great way to grow both sales and profit, because the sales are nearly always additional to those from your domestic market. Plus, the cultural and seasonal differences from country to country provide a lot of sales opportunities for different products in different places at different times.
- Use creative copywriting that sells, sells, sells!
To encourage customers to choose your products make sure you’ve included all the information a potential customer needs to know, keywords and key phrases they might use to search for the product and copy that helps them understand why they need it. Your product copy needs to be easy for the customer to quickly scan — so don’t be afraid of bullet points. They can be a really easy way for customers to scan your product on a marketplace product listing and decide if it is for them.
Most retailers listing products on marketplaces reuse the product data they already have. It’s certainly worth investing in writing the best copy for the products you can; it’s often the single most important factor determining whether a customer ever finds and sees your product. Trading products internationally can be a headache if you have to translate all of that content — unless you use Fruugo as your route to market in over 40 countries because they do all the translation work for you.
- Use technology to help sell more and reduce costs.
Keeping track of prices, stock and customer orders is easy if you’re handling a few orders a day, but as the business grows and you start to get hundreds or thousands of orders every day, you can quickly get into a mess. To avoid this, you need a good data management and synchronisation process to keep your product information and inventory data correct. For example, it’s commercially dangerous to sell products you don’t actually have because the stock feed is out of date. If you’re using ChannelAdvisor you’ll already know the benefit of using its system to centralise creation and management of data feeds for each marketplace. One of the marketplaces seamlessly integrated with ChannelAdvisor is Fruugo, which is purposely built to make it very easy to expand internationally and generate sales from all over the world.
- Think global: Selling overseas just means sticking a different label on the parcel.
Selling overseas via any method requires finding the logistics partners you need to get the parcels to the end customer and manage any returns. Your existing domestic carrier could carry your international parcels, or you may need to find new partners.
The delivery charge you set for customers in each country is important to maximise sales and profits. Your products will be competing with products sold by retailers from all over the world — some of whom may have much lower costs to get product to the customer’s country. It’s usually a good idea to subsidise some part of the shipping cost from the gross margin for the product as doing so can make your offer more locally competitive and often generates more sales and more total gross margin than otherwise would have been the case.
- Selling abroad need not be taxing!
Shipping to customers overseas often means dealing with unfamiliar taxation and duty regimes. One of the advantages of using the Fruugo marketplace to sell to international customers means you only have one currency to worry about — your own. That’s the only currency you’ll be dealing with. The Fruugo platform also handles sales tax for retailers, ensuring that customers are charged the correct amount based on their location and the location of the retailer. The Fruugo back-office systems then provide retailers with detailed reports to keep the people in the accounts office happy!
- Get more stuff done.
If you choose to grow your business by expanding internationally with Fruugo it is like delivering 40 e-commerce projects for the effort of just one! With only one integration to set up, only one currency to worry about, and no translation work to do, Fruugo makes “going global” much simpler than trying to set up dedicated websites for each country. As with most marketplaces there’s a one-off task to do — map your products to the categories on the marketplace. Then decide which countries you can ship to and how much customers in those countries will be charged for their delivery. That’s it! Once that admin is done the orders start to arrive.
This simplicity really reduces the toll on your project management team, whilst opening your business up to global sales. After the short-term focused effort to get everything set up, you’ll see sales rolling in month after month and year after year without having to manage a single site rebuild or run a single marketing campaign.
- Be visionary.
In a modern retail business, it’s the role of the leader to understand the opportunities and threats that exist both within and outside the business. Finding the best way to capitalise on the opportunities and minimise the threats involves constantly adapting plans based on the latest data. Choosing Fruugo as the first step to capitalise on the cross-border sales opportunity means you’ll be minimising the impact on your team whilst maximising the potential for sales and acquiring data to help future cross-border decision making.
By capitalising on your existing team’s skills, Fruugo exists to make it as easy as possible for you to reap the rewards of cross-border selling with minimal hassle, as quickly as possible.
- Seize opportunities
People who work in retail tend to be growth-minded and ambitious. They know that getting ahead means getting things done. If they can get ahead by taking advantage of “quick wins,” they usually will, and then move on to take the next opportunity. Fruugo is a “no risk” opportunity. Fees are only incurred when sales are generated. The setup is quick and easy, particularly for those using ChannelAdvisor as their data management company.
Fruugo is a great opportunity for retailers because:
- Fruugo is fast. Rather than months of planning to launch overseas the products are selling within weeks
- Fruugo provides massive reach. An in-house project can cope with launching in one or two countries or languages or currencies — but with Fruugo it can easily be over 40 as soon as you’re live
- Fruugo takes little effort. Because so much of the heavy lifting is done by Fruugo, the toll it takes on the merchant’s teams and manpower is much lower. That means fewer people are required to set up and run cross-border trading, and there is much less impact on existing domestic sales because teams’ focus doesn’t get lost.
Some retailers will take a long time to capitalise on the opportunity to grow their digital footfall, because they don’t follow the quickest route to launch and grow overseas. Smart retailers will use Fruugo. Fruugo takes care of all the complicated stuff so you can build your international business in over 40 countries, leveraging the skills your team already have. The only difference is the label that goes on the box.
The cross-border sales growth opportunity is now. The faster you can make your products available overseas, the sooner you can take advantage of those unserved customers. Saving your team from having to learn a whole new skill set is a great way to speed up project delivery and ensure success. As you’ve seen in this article, using Fruugo to create a massive growth in reach just needs the application of skills that most retailers already have and use every day.
Guest blog author: Tony Preedy, Chief Commercial Officer, Fruugo
Fruugo.com is the only global e-commerce marketplace business that makes it easy for retailers to sell their products at a global scale. Using Fruugo’s unique and proprietary e-commerce technology, customers all over the world can purchase from global retailers in their own preferred language, currency and payment method.