In Part I of this blog series, guest blogger Jeremy Clutton shared strategies on using SEO to increase your visibility overseas. In the second and final part of the series, he dives into specific e-commerce channels and regions worth exploring.
Using Multiple Channels to Reach Overseas Customers
More and more companies are branching out with international websites, displaying their shop windows to the world. In my last post, I looked at some of the decisions you’ll need to make when adapting websites, and how to increase their visibility. But they aren’t the only way to sell your goods or services overseas.
Using international marketplaces, paid search and comparison shopping engines to promote your wares will significantly increase your visibility and drive a much higher volume of sales. For example, eBay reaches 124 million potential buyers in 27 countries.
Research the most popular sales channels in your target market, and analyse what your competitors are doing. Any company targeting China’s vast online population should consider Tmall Global, its dominant marketplace, which is used by major brands. Its shopping festival last November became the world’s largest shopping event, with $5.78 billion in transactions during 24 hours. Other key sites include 360buy.com, and Taobao, which is similar to eBay.
Many US and UK companies have struggled to succeed in China, the largest e-commerce market. This is often due to a failure to modify their business model to suit Chinese consumers. Retailers often underestimate the importance of word-of-mouth referrals and marketplaces with a social element, such as Taobao, which are more successful than pure-retail sites.
Brazil is another market where social media plays an important role in e-commerce, with many companies using networks such as Facebook to tap into new revenue streams and reach customers.
Staying Ahead of the Crowd
Online retail is growing fast, as more of the world’s population gets connected. The landscape is constantly changing, with mobile and tablet accounting for a higher proportion of sales. Successful companies need to stay ahead of the curve and adapt their strategies to meet changing consumer expectations.
While Europe and North America might seem like the obvious places to start, at least for UK retailers, many of the most exciting opportunities can be in emerging markets. Retailers can benefit from fast-growing internet populations and a relative lack of competition.
Figures from eMarketer show that consumers in the Asia-Pacific region will spend more online than North American shoppers for the first time in 2014. Indonesia (the world’s fourth most populous nation) is one country seeing an explosion in e-commerce, with sales predicted to soar to $10 billion by 2015.
Social commerce is evolving, and customers are increasingly looking to social networks for information, reviews and special offers. While it can be difficult to measure the return on investment from social media, these channels can be a vital part of the consumers’ overall brand experience.
Going global is no easy task, even for the largest businesses. But by researching their markets and using multiple channels, companies can maximise their chances of success in the global marketplace.
Blog post by Jeremy Clutton, strategic account director, Lingo24.
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