Expanding internationally and optimizing the customer experience

This year, worldwide ecommerce sales will exceed $5 trillion for the first time, accounting for more than a fifth of overall retail sales. Brands selling their goods and services online have a huge opportunity to connect with new customers around the world and grow their international sales.

Identifying the right markets for your brand

In a movement accelerated by the global pandemic, an estimated two billion people in Southeast Asia and India are shifting to using the internet and making purchases online, opening up additional revenue opportunities for brands selling into these regions.

Markets in Asia-Pacific will make up six of the top ten fastest-growing countries for retail ecommerce sales this year, with three markets in Latin America also cracking the top ten. But just because these emerging economies are growing faster than others doesn’t mean they are the only markets — or even the right markets — for your ecommerce brand to eye for expansion. Using market and industry data can help your brand determine which markets are the right fit for your specific products.

International expansion strategies should account for everything from current growth opportunities to future plans for scaling your business and considerations around distinct challenges in each market. Who is your ideal customer? How can you attract them and build loyalty? How will you solve for local complexities? These questions are important to consider when identifying the right markets and building out your strategy.

Increased opportunity brings increased complexity

While the opportunities the continued growth in global ecommerce bring are exciting, there are also significant complexities that are impossible to ignore.

Global tax and compliance regulations present an enormous challenge for any brand hoping to expand internationally. Some of the most attractive global markets are also the most complicated when it comes to nuances like tax jurisdictions and data privacy regulations. Given the fact rules and regulations are constantly changing, brands looking to expand internationally need to make tax and compliance a priority in their go-to-market planning.

Transparency is key when it comes to managing these complexities. Shoppers don’t want to be surprised at any point throughout the buying journey. Collecting all local taxes and duties as a guaranteed landed cost will ensure that your customers won’t be charged with additional fees upon delivery, but that’s easier said than done. This includes keeping up with constant tax changes that affect your products in each market and being able to accurately calculate them in real-time during checkout.

Brands selling physical products also have to consider complexities such as import and export regulations and customs clearance. A sound logistics strategy with trusted carriers will go a long way in reducing delays from ongoing supply chain issues and keeping your customers happy. Last mile delivery can be the difference between a one-time purchase and a repeat customer. So it’s important to manage expectations around fulfillment, offer clear options, and stay transparent throughout the entire buying journey.

Optimizing the buying experience for shoppers

Today’s consumers expect shopping experiences to be fully localized and tailored to their personal needs. When brands expand their operations to sell across borders, it’s crucial to fully understand expectations and offer personalized experiences — no matter where in the world your customers are shopping from. This will help to increase customer satisfaction and in turn build customer loyalty.

According to an Adobe Commerce study, 67% of consumers say they would like to receive personalized promotions or offers based on their spending habits. Shoppers expect brands to understand what they are looking for — and also expect them to offer the flexibility to purchase these products however they prefer. The study shows 82% want the option to choose how they pay for the goods they purchase online, ideally being able to choose between multiple payment methods.

Payment preferences vary from country to country and even region to region. To make shoppers in new markets feel comfortable on your site and ultimately convert, your checkout experience should be localized for each market you enter. This includes offering preferred payment methods and local currencies. But it’s not just about making sure you offer each popular option. The key is to use data to understand shoppers’ payment preferences in each new market you enter, as each region varies greatly, and then make strategic decisions about which to present at checkout.

How your brand can succeed in selling internationally

Shoppers today have an abundance of choices when purchasing products. Success in acquiring these customers and scaling internationally comes down to keeping the customer experience front and center — offering compelling, relevant, and friction-free shopping experiences in each market. Every touch point throughout the entire buying journey, and across all channels, is critical.

So how can your brand succeed?

Doing it all on your own is nearly impossible. Consider working with partners who are experts in creating personalized experiences, localizing checkouts, and simplifying back-office complexities. Find reliable, seasoned experts that have a global footprint and can adhere to all of the rules and requirements in each region on your behalf to reduce the risks.

Outsourcing the various complexities and heavy lifting that comes with expanding your ecommerce operations on a global level allows your brand to focus on what you do best and offer the best possible buying journey for your customers.

This is a partnership post and was written by Dan Breuer, senior vice president of sales with Digital River.