Written by Jim Wehmann, senior vice president of global marketing for Digital River, a leading provider of global e-commerce solutions
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:27
Even small businesses can take advantage of the latest developments in e-commerce platforms.
For some time, we’ve been hearing about how the largest online retailers are having great success expanding business internationally. Up until a few years ago, having the resources to overcome the significant barriers that existed to create a global presence meant you needed to be a large public retailer.
Now, even small businesses can take advantage of the latest developments in e-commerce platforms, including global fulfilment solutions and transaction processing capabilities that are designed to enable rapid online expansion outside of the domestic market.
Whether a business has an existing presence internationally or if it is in the process of planning international expansion, the following checklist is a good guide to evaluate readiness to execute a sophisticated and optimised global strategy. The following questions are designed to help organisations attain a sense of which areas require additional attention and those that are launch ready:
Are your e-commerce sites translated and localised in the languages spoken by your local buyers?
Is your product catalog flexible enough to change the products and product descriptions displayed on your site on a market-by-market basis?
Are product prices on your stores displayed in local currencies? Do product prices reflect amounts that local consumers deem acceptable and appropriate? Do the prices take into account country-specific or contract pricing and exchange rates?
Tax and export controls
Does your online store comply with tax and export regulations worldwide? Are your local sites able to calculate and apply the appropriate taxes for each particular market? Is your company’s approach to tax nexus and foreign taxes optimal?
Preferred payment methods
Can your customers choose from localised and preferred payment methods? Are your sites optimised to deliver the precise combination of credit and debit cards, money orders, wire transfers or other payment methods on a market-by-market basis? Are you offering preferred payment methods that only local card acquirers will authorise?
Are your back-end business operations compliant with local government and consumer laws, including those outside your native market? Are you collecting and remitting recycling and regulatory fees in applicable locales? Is your company reporting proper sales figures to local authorities?
Logistics and fulfillment
Is your fulfillment process optimised? Can you ensure that products are shipped from local warehouses, or downloaded from regional servers to deliver the biggest savings and convenience for your customers and the greatest efficiencies for your company?
Do your marketing strategies comply with local email and privacy regulations? Are your banner ads and search engine campaigns fully localised and optimised to drive ROI, attract more customers and drive more sales?
Are your e-commerce sites backed up with 24X7 customer support? Do your customer service personnel speak the language of your local customers? Can you handle email communication, returns and other functions in a way that caters to your local customers?
Have you reached the optimal revenue/expense ratio for your e-commerce sales channel, fully leveraging the global opportunities a multi-channel solution offers? Does your e-commerce operation include a reseller and affiliate management strategy?
Are your e-commerce systems, customer service, and order processing capacities structured so that you never lose an order, even during demand peaks?
Do you have the reporting tools to access the business details you need to continuously evaluate and optimise your e-commerce sales channel for global markets?
Identify and acquire the remaining pieces
Any company with good answers to these questions will be substantially prepared for a successful global launch. For any which discovered gaps in their current solution, then it’s time to identify and acquire the remaining pieces.
As mentioned above, cost effective solutions that solve all of the typical challenges that brands have had expanding outside of core markets currently exist in the marketplace. Brand owners no longer have a good excuse for not doing business online and directly anywhere their consumers exist.
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