There has never been a better time to set up an e-commerce business. With set-up costs falling and technology improving, e-commerce start-ups through to SMEs have the opportunity to scale up quickly and drive global sales if they take the right approach.
Let’s look at the five key reasons why SME e-commerce retailers are set for global success in the coming months and years.
The growth in e-commerce means that it’s never been easier to source competitive shipping rates globally, along with reasonably priced warehouses to store products for fulfilment.
Looking at shipping, there are a plethora of global and local courier services all competing to offer the best prices, and service at speed for e-commerce businesses. Most are geared to expediting products fast in the e-commerce age and are able, dependent on the location of your warehouses, to offer same day or next day delivery.
Using a courier service that can deliver products in the shortest time scale will help guarantee retailers deliver a strong customer experience and stand out amongst the competition. To ensure the best price for the shipping service remember that volume is key – delivery costs come down the more product is sold and delivered. This means it’s very important to accurately predict the volume of orders that will be delivered as this will help you to negotiate the best price with the courier you choose.
Warehouses too are increasingly competing for retailers and offering competitive pricing in an age where 60% of warehouse space is used by retailers, up from about a third a decade ago. However, what those in e-commerce need to bear in mind is the urban logistics facilities that offer ‘the last mile’ in the fulfilment process are seeing increased costs due to their growing popularity from retailers in locations of restricted space.
Those retailers who don’t want to get involved in the warehouse and fulfilment process can easily outsource it all to Amazon. The service, Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), enables them to place their inventory in the Amazon fulfilment centre and sees Amazon handle the shipping, returns and customer service. Amazon also offers this facility for products sold directly via the brand’s own website, to make the whole process as easy as possible.
Once retailers have built their website on an e-commerce platform like Magento, WordPress or Shopify, the CMS technology built into these platforms enables them to easily update their website with images and text, without needing to have any knowledge of HTML, CSS or other coding. Gone are the days of relying on a web developer to make regular site changes, saving both time and money.
CMS also enables websites across multiple countries and regions to be updated via one CMS – making the whole process quick and easy.
CMS is also very convenient for busy retailers on the go. It’s possible to login to the back-end of your website from anywhere and to make changes. All you need is a computer, tablet, or mobile device and an internet connection.
Furthermore, via CMS general updates and support requirements that maintain the well-being of your site can be conducted almost instantly, with few clicks of a button.
At first glance, it’s not easy for retailers to create engaging and emotive copy targeted at multiple audiences, all speaking different languages, with different cultural beliefs and nuances.
In order for your e-commerce business to succeed in overseas markets, you need to ensure that you’re using the right language, tone of voice and that your content is written in a style that will engage your target audience.
This is not a simple case of translating copy from one market into another. You need to understand the cultural nuances of the target region and adapt your message to your audience within it. This is the only way you can effectively connect with audiences on an emotional level and is why retailers must use transcreation services over simple translation.
Luckily for retailers, there are many suppliers in the transcreation space who can help identify your target audience, understand their habits and motivations and craft tailored messages that resonate with them and are consistent with your brand style and tone of voice, regardless of the region or language you’re targeting.
Websites live and die based on their page speed and overall website performance. It’s essential that they load up very quickly and offer speedy functionality.
The issue is the further away someone is from the server which is hosting your website, the greater the delay that person experiences in accessing your site. Therefore, if your website is hosted on a server in London and someone accesses your site from Australia, they will experience an annoying delay in the site load time and functionality.
The solution to this problem is to use a content delivery network (CDN) which is a network of geographically distributed servers which caches your static content near the location of your visitors. They provide the fastest way to deliver content from your website application to people based anywhere in the world.
One of the most popular, and the one I recommend, is CloudFlare which routes your traffic through its global network. It automatically optimises the delivery of your webpages to achieve the fastest load times and help to deliver the best performance possible.
It’s reasonably straightforward to integrate an existing e-commerce catalogue with the likes of Amazon or eBay, and gain access to their huge global audience, therefore helping to boost sales. In fact, you can set-up on most channel partners in the morning and start selling on their platforms in the afternoon.
Also, retailers shouldn’t discount partnering with the channel partner leaders in the markets they want to operate in. There’s Cdiscount in France, Real.de in Germany, Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in much of Asia - an e-commerce site that’s now increasingly global. Both Amazon and eBay are great options if you are targeting consumers in North America and Europe.
If your product offering is a bit more niche it’s important to look at appearing on potential marketplaces that sell niche products, such as Etsy for handmade products and crafts and Bonanza for unique items.
By offering a variety of retail options for your customers to buy from, you increase the convenience and ease of purchase, which in turn, boosts profit. Simply put, having a number of buying points gives you more tools with which to make a sale. And by selling your products through other online retailers means you’re not dependent on any single revenue stream – such as your own.
Ideally, any SME retailer that is focused on global e-commerce growth should look to source an e-commerce agency with a track record in driving worldwide sales for their clients. They will help them take advantage of the opportunities currently available and set them on course for global success in 2019 and beyond.
Author: Leo Matthews, Director at Xigen
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