On the surface, the world is getting smaller. More companies than ever are using the relative low risk flexibility that ecommerce offers to trade internationally. However, moving beyond your domestic market is a major decision – one that comes with unique challenges.
Setting up an overseas operation is not just a case of ‘lifting and shifting’ the model that’s working in your home region. There are many logistical considerations: how do you cope with a new language and currency? Are there regulations or taxation changes that could impact profits? Is the market for online shopping mature enough to stimulate demand – or on the flip side, has the market already become saturated?
One way to test the waters internationally is through an online marketplace like eBay. Turning to a platform that specializes in facilitating cross-border trading can open up support facilities way beyond the available knowledge base within your organization, and make it easier to enter new markets.
In fact, to encourage international trading, eBay offers a global shipping program (GSP) that takes away the hassle of manually calculating customs charges, shipping and packing when sending goods abroad. All you as the seller need to do is send the item to a local fulfillment point, paying a domestic rate, and eBay takes care of the rest.
This sounds ideal for businesses concerned about their ability to handle international distribution, but what it doesn’t account for is the additional pressure placed on other operational resources.
Your eBay inventory management system, for instance, is going to be processing more traffic if you’re opening up your services to wider markets. So while the fear of getting a bad online review as a result of late shipping is removed, there is still the danger that your business will receive more orders than it can handle.
The secret to success in this instance is automating your eBay order management system alongside any other channel activity – such as selling directly through your own website.
Bringing together activities across your business, and using technology to supervise the processes from customer order placement to last mile fulfillment, lifts the huge burden on your operations.
And most importantly, automating order management frees up a great deal of time – time that can be spend focusing on brand growth strategies.
At the end of the day, as a retailer you decide to enter new markets because you want to expand your business, and ultimately increase revenue. eBay is a cost-effective, hassle-free way of expanding, but only if the right strategies are in place to co-ordinate the operational impact of running a bigger business.
The one thing customers share in common – regardless of their culture or location – is a desire for quality customer service. This starts at the back end, making sure the right practical processes are in place to deliver the right product to the right person, at the right time.
Without these basics, even the kindest customer service or the best loyalty offer won’t tempt shoppers to keep shopping with your brand.