In my previous post, we looked into possible methods a retailer can use to ensure the best fulfilment process when selling internationally. Once you’ve navigated the challenges of shipping products from one country to another, making sure you can either fulfil the stock or have stock available to be fulfilled domestically, how do you then make sure that you’re listing your products correctly in different marketplaces across the global stage?
If we work for the moment with the example of an Australian clothing retailer selling products in
the US, most would be forgiven for thinking that no translation is required. After all, our collective Western identities are similar, and ‘English is English’. In this case, however, most would be incorrect — just try listing your ‘thongs’ for sale on eBay US and you’ll see what we mean. Since thongs (in most other countries) are referred to as ‘sandals’ or ‘flip-flops’, it’s important that your data feed is updated to reflect this language change. However, when listing directly to eBay Australia and eBay US, making sure that all of your products adhere to the local dataset can become time-consuming. Not only do you need to update your inventory when initially listing to a new locale, but you also need to ensure these changes are reflected in every new item you list.
Given these minutiae that every retailer must master, what are the best ways to deal with these challenges and improve performance on international marketplaces? By far, the easiest way to streamline the process and manage your data is to enlist a third-party platform to do some of the heavy lifting for you. You may already be aware that when partnering with ChannelAdvisor, a retailer can provide one spreadsheet of data with one set of product information, and then use this same set to list into different countries.
Just why is this so beneficial? Here, we outline a few pain points involved with selling internationally and how you can best utilise ChannelAdvisor tools to help you sell more.
Issue: How will you know what strategy is best for each region?
In the previously outlined case of flip-flops vs. thongs vs. sandals, the information you currently have might not necessarily be the best approach for the market you’re trying to list in. How do you keep up with these regional and channel differences and make sure you’re adapting to updates?
Solution: When listing internationally through ChannelAdvisor, our Actionable Retail Insights can help you keep pace with the evolving landscape. In the Marketplaces Dashboard, we provide a feed of suggestions based on performance data. For example, you might need to increase the size of your image to boost your ranking on the eBay site, or offer an express shipping option to help you win the Amazon Buy Box. The system also knows that, for example, within the ‘shoes’ category in eBay Australia, ‘thongs’ should be defined as ‘flip-flops’; it will show these insights for each region you list in, helping you map and supply the correct attributes for the product type. EBay will then run an algorithm that ensures that if a shopper searches for ‘thongs’, the site will show him your flip-flops, improving the performance of your products in each different location.
Actionable Retail Insights will also help you focus on your best performing products and the actions to take to guarantee continued success. For example, the tool might encourage you to relist items that have been popular in the past or suggest changes in price or shipping based on current competition in the region.
Issue: How will you find the time to alter listings with so many variables?
Let’s say you’re an Australian retailer selling on a single marketplace. Chances are, you know who your competitors are and you’re going to be able to keep an eye on their prices so that they’re not undercutting you and you’re not losing out on potential buyers. But as you start to expand and list in more regions and on more marketplaces, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep track of all that information, especially because you’re asleep when competitors are changing their prices.
Solution: Enter ChannelAdvisor Repricer with Pricewatch. This feature allows you to sit back while it updates your prices for you based on a series of rules you supply. Though the Repricer is currently only available for Amazon, retailers can take these competitive Amazon prices and use them as a pricing model for their other marketplaces. The Repricer allows you to create rules for a number of possible occurrences:
- Reprice against Amazon, against top-rated sellers, or against your competitors.
- Set an upper and lower threshold for how ChannelAdvisor automates the price change.
- Set increments, e.g., always being cheaper than the lowest price, but only by 7 cents.
- Set goals to reprice to, e.g., total price inclusive of shipping, beat the person who currently has the Buy Box, include or exclude certain competitors.
- Sort products based on how important it is to have the price constantly evaluated, assigning products to three tiers of pricing: maximum (repriced minute by minute), accelerated (every hour or two), and standard (once a day).
Issue: How can you effectively keep track of inventory without wasting valuable time?
Another potential roadblock to success when selling on both local and international marketplaces is keeping track of availability. As you list into new regions, your inventory will need to be broken down to allow for different pricing, languages and quantities. In the case of retailers not using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and having to ship everything from the same place, if an item sells in the US, the Australian stock will also need to be updated to prevent overselling. The more marketplaces you list on, the harder it becomes to track across multiple points of sale.
Solution: Enter Quantity Management Strategy. This tool enables you to share quantity across multiple marketplaces, creating a pool that links your accounts together, all working from a single quantity figure. Instead of needing to update your stock manually in your US, UK and Australian accounts, it allows you to upload all inventory changes to one account and see the changes immediately reflected across all others. If a product is sold or new products come in, it will update all changes for you, saving you from an endless stream of manual changes.
Rather than focussing on the all the tedious, day-to-day tasks associated with expanding to new regions, leveraging available technology will give you more time to optimise for each channel and build a global strategy.
In our next post, we’ll delve into a few often-forgotten considerations when beginning to sell internationally and our tips for first-time success.
Blog post by Sam Clarke, ChannelAdvisor Sales Engineer, APAC