5 Challenges Online Sellers Face in the Global Market
This is a guest post from Richard Gilbert of the Payoneer team. Richard is the General Manager of North America, based in Payoneer’s New York headquarters. Before joining Payoneer, Richard led strategic partnerships and business development for Infusionsoft, a SaaS-based CRM dedicated to serving SMBs. His focus on serving SMBs began with leading co-marketing partnerships for Google’s US SMB Marketing division. Richard commenced his career as a Strategy Consultant with Booz Allen and Price Waterhouse.
In today's digital marketplace, global is the new local. And as global markets continue to expand, we are facing a time of unprecedented growth opportunities. But with all worthwhile opportunities come along with their own set of challenges.
Don't panic in the face of these barriers. The assets for your business far outweigh the concerns. Highlighted below are 5 challenges you should prepare for in order to enter the global playing field.
5 e-commerce challenges when entering the global market
Online merchants can be quite competitive on price. With dozens of sellers listing identical products, they are all pushing to sell. Though often, there is nothing to differentiate one company's product from the next.
And keeping your price competitive is no easy feat. Online merchants are competing with sellers from China, who have easy, direct access to manufacturers; meaning they do not have to foot merchandise shipping fees. This gives them an unparalleled advantage to sellers from other parts of the world since they can offer the same product at a lower price. Trying to match their prices is essentially parting with your profits to buy sales.
Add to that the value of money in one country compared to another. For instance, a product sold at $20 in the US, may be negligible compared to the average salary, but in India, may represent a proportion too significant to spend. Businesses need to know how much consumers are willing to pay for each product, in order to stay competitive in local markets.
Consider altering prices based on region or risk not selling in the region at all.
Not only is price a significant factor in purchasing, but online shoppers are increasingly expecting fast, free shipping, bringing up to our next barrier:
It is not uncommon to see customer's abandoning their carts due to high shipping costs or cross-border taxes.
When selling overseas, make sure the regulations and rules of each foreign market are clear to you, and outlined even clearer to your client base. Providing simple instructions and information can save you abandoned carts and increase your sales.
A worthwhile solution is to work with international shipping service providers. They are specialized in taking care of the complex process of shipping costs, duties and taxes. Having providers give end-to-end support and assistance keeps your business running smoothly and your customer's happy.
If you are a small retailer, consider distributing your own inventory to fulfillment warehouses or find unique products to sell in order to keep up with larger companies shipping benefits.
Alternatively, instead of distributing your own inventory, start using drop-shipping services.
With this service, you never stock your own inventory; instead, you purchase it from a third party who ships directly to the customer. It can be a real game-changer, especially if you are new to the global marketplace as you don't have to front thousands of dollars for inventory before launching, not to mention the money you are saving by having a low overhead with this option. Amazon FBA is a great example of this; having Amazon store and ship your inventory frees up your time and headaches to focus on developing your business.
Excuse me? Can you say that again?
Learning to communicate correctly with international customers is one of the biggest challenges you will face. Translations simply won't cut it. Though language differences can be subtle, they are often complex. Literal translations can be your brand's worst nightmare.
Take, Mercedes-Benz for example. They entered the Chinese market under the brand name "Bensi," which means "rush to die." Ironic, isn’t it?
As a global business, it's crucial that you localize and translate product descriptions for your respective audiences. Research shows that 70% of online users are not native English speakers and moreover, most customers will not make important purchasing decisions if the information is not in their native language. Don't lose an entire audience because of this mistake. There are companies that provide these translation services for you. If you're going global, do it right; the cost of translation will be well worth it.
However, it's not just content that's important. Having customer representatives that speak local languages not only prevents misunderstandings, but can actually make the customer feel more loyal to the brand. In fact, 73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand.
As mentioned before, people in different countries place different values and priorities on different products.
It's extremely important to learn your customers in different countries and appropriate your products accordingly. A recent survey conducted by Pitney Bowes, found that while most consumers prefer to buy apparel in person, Chinese consumers are more likely to purchase clothing online.
Another informative insight: online retail sales are highest in the U.K, China, Finland, Norway, South Korea, and Denmark; and are estimated to lead sales into 2018.
Take the time to do some market research and see where your business will be most profitable based on country culture.
Understanding where consumers are buying and how much they are willing to spend is critical.
Selling internationally presents quite a serious challenge with payments. There can be up to three different currencies to manage between the customer, the eCommerce site and your own. You might be deterred by the thought of high currency conversion rates, international bank transfer fees, and all the money you can potentially lose in the process of taking your business to the global level.
Whether you have your own e-store or are selling on marketplaces like Amazon or Wish, Payoneer offers a thorough solution for sellers with low fees. Payoneer’s services for sellers include:
- USD, EUR, GBP and JPY receiving accounts – do you need a local bank receiving account in the US, EU, GB or Japan? We’ve got you covered. Receive funds from clients in these countries easily.
- Choose how to access your funds – once you receive funds into your account, you choose how to access them; you can withdraw them to your local bank account in your own currency (at a low currency conversion rate), or sign up for a Payoneer MasterCard® and withdraw or spend your funds however you like.
- Pay others, for free – do you need to pay a business partner, supplier, or other service provider? Payments within the Payoneer network are absolutely free.
- Tap into an ecosystem of partners – need to make VAT payments when selling in Europe? Need to pay a Chinese logistics management company? Gain access to Payoneer’s system of vendors and partners, and transfer payments to them for little to no costs.
Explore across borders
Despite these challenges, be optimistic! The global marketplace is easier than you may expect, with many shoppers choosing to purchase from international vendors, and spending more than domestic shoppers.
Besides, knowing you will face these challenges and coming prepared is half the battle.