Equipping yourself for international ecommerce – a quick guide
Now that you have a good ecommerce business in India, why not think of taking it a step further? If you have ever thought of international ecommerce, keep reading.
Taking your business to an international audience has several benefits apart from the monetary ones. It helps you grow as a business person. It exposes you to the work culture of different countries and helps you broaden your outlook. Interacting with people from different cultures (shoppers, customs officials, or logistics partners) teaches you a lot.
Should you engage in international ecommerce?
Before you jump on your dream, ask yourself the following questions:
Is there good demand for your products?
You will have to do thorough research for this. Identify the countries where you can expect good business for your products. Carry out surveys of consumers and businesses to get a fair idea of what to expect. If necessary, take a few trips to potential countries before finalise things. Talk to fellow business people in your network and evaluate your business destinations.
How strong is the competition?
Run through the existing businesses who sell the same products. Analyse their operations and strategy to assess the potential of your business. No point in setting up an ice cube business in Iceland, is there?
What are the legal permissions you will need?
Selling internationally will naturally involve more legalities than selling locally. Consult a good legal practitioner and make a list of documents and permits you will need. See how feasible it will be to obtain them, and lay the ground work for it.
Do you have the finance for it?
Once you have zeroed in on the country and the legal expenses, you will have a rough idea on how much you will need to get started. Assess your current capital and check with your financiers how much you can raise. Do you have property that you can pledge or sell to raise the money if it comes to that? Do a thorough analysis of your monetary position and keep yourself ready.
What kind of logistics will you need?
List out your transport options. Survey the logistics partners available in the host country and make a list of potential candidates. FedEx and DHL are established logistics companies with a wide footprint.
Is the risk worth the trouble?
This is purely introspective and might sound somewhat pessimistic, but it is something you need to be sure about. Setting up a business overseas is no child’s play, and involves a lot of investment and expenditure. Take it up only if you are certain about your decision. Discuss it with your key stakeholders and come up with a workable decision.
Quick tips for international shipping
Once you have made the decision, and have the financial and legal go-ahead, here are a few tips that can help you:
Set up your payment mode. You need to have a mutually beneficial payment mode. Consider service providers like PayPal, E-Billing Solutions (EBS) PayUbiz, or Worldpay. If you hold cards like Master Card, you can avail their international payment gateway too.
You can sell through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or Alibaba. International listings on eBay and Amazon are charged a small fee. Most established companies have their own payment and transport methods, which are safest when you are starting out.
Be prepared for returns and exchanges. This is inevitable in any online business, but it pinches a great lot more when international shipping is involved. Consider paid shipping that can mitigate your return or multiple shipping costs.
Be aware of currency fluctuations. Exchange rates fluctuate often. Install a rate calculator in your system so that you are up to date with the changes.
Mind your language. If you do not speak a common language as your customers, you can either employ translators (which can be expensive as you expand), or use a reliable translator tool. However, bear in mind that translation tools do not give a refined or accurate translation.
We hope this will give you an idea of what it’s like to take on international ecommerce. If you are an etailer who sells abroad, share your best practices with fellow sellers in the comments section below. If you are a seller who is contemplating selling internationally and need help with managing it, come to us. Browntape is India’s largest ecommerce service provider, and you can choose from our array of services to help your ecommerce business.