This article is part 3 in a series on expanding your e-commerce store internationally. In this series, we go over 4 steps you can take to expand your online shop overseas:
- Focus on expanding into one market at a time
- Find the right places to list your products
- Market your products to shoppers
- Provide a great shipping experience
By this time, your e-commerce store would have selected a targeted niche within your market, found the right online platforms like marketplaces or branded websites to host your online store and created a robust digital marketing plan.
While everything’s set to start receiving sales and orders, it’s best not to overlook the part of the process where your customers get to interact with your brand physically for the first time: the shipping experience.
Step 4: Providing a great shipping experience and keeping your word
While creating engagement grows your awareness, keeping your customers coming back requires fulfilling your promises with great service and great products.
Creating a memorable unboxing experience
Unboxing is the final touchpoint between your business and your customer and it is a potential area your store can truly shine. To do this, it helps to have an unforgettable unboxing experience if your products and price points call for it.
If done well, your customers may want to share their experiences on social media, blogs, or even video platforms. This, in turn, will aid your marketing efforts with positive, free publicity.
Your branded box should ideally be packed with the box-in-box method to protect your branded box from damage during transit. As long as the branded box is smaller than the packing box with some allowance for filler, you can get really creative when it comes to designing your unboxing experience. If you’d like to see some additional details and examples of branded packaging as a branding tool, consider looking at some tips here.
Having coupons and inserts in the packaging can help you tide over the slower periods in the year, as these coupons can act as an incentive for your customers to shop at your store again. If this is coupled with a great unboxing experience, customers are likely to come back to your store to buy more products, even during lull periods.
On-time Deliveries and Engage with a shipping partner that is reliable and cost-effective
In some countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, logistics conditions can be challenging. As a result, some are willing to wait around 2 weeks for an internationally delivered item to arrive. One of the keys here is ensuring you set expectations at a reasonable level while ensuring that your deliveries arrive at the time you promised. This can be done by clearly stating the estimated delivery time at your store’s checkout, for instance.
Staying consistent with your deliveries and expectations can help to preserve people’s impressions of your brand. There are many factors that can make or break the delivery process, which makes choosing the right logistics service provider vital.
To ensure that your shipping partner is good for your target market, it helps to consider the shipping partner’s network coverage, knowledge of local preferences, and its tracking system.
Your shipping partner’s network coverage determines how well they can deliver to every part of your target market. You can take advantage of their expertise like Christy Ng Shoes, who is able to reach over 30 markets thanks to her shipping partner’s unparalleled network, and that also frees her up to focus on innovating her products.
Logistics service partners that are familiar with your target market would not only know the most effective and efficient routes to deliver your products, but in some cases be able to adapt to market specific requirements. One good example of this would be having more motorcycles in their fleet for crowded urban areas or even being able to accurately locate addresses in Thailand that would boggle the average non-Thai person.
Having a logistics partner with a good tracking system would provide both you and your customers peace of mind. Whether parcels are of high value or not, your customers would want to know where they are in real-time. With a good tracking system in place, you will less likely pester your customers service teams for updates on parcels’ locations.
Testing the Market
If you are planning your first foray into a foreign market, it might be best to first test the market’s demand with cross-border shipping.
Cross-border shipping via third-party logistics providers (3PL’s) allows you deliver your products to the target market without spending too much on setting up logistical infrastructure like warehousing, fleets and import licenses within your target market. That means you can start delivering at a lower initial cost and a faster set-up time. Furthermore, you’ll have guaranteed revenue on each parcel sent. This makes cross-border shipping a lower risk method of testing your new market.
To minimise any disruptions during the shipping journey, you should also ensure that your products are properly packaged and labelled before you hand your shipment off to your shipping partner. It also helps to be transparent when it comes to delivery information and to have a plan in case any delays happen.
There are definitely more details involved in growing your e-commerce store overseas, but getting the basics of engaging and interacting with your audience, setting the right expectations and delivering on promises are good ways to start. If you are able to conquer the challenges of expanding overseas, the boost in revenue you will enjoy is well worth the risk.