This is true in many regards and when it comes to international e-commerce it is for sure.
Launching a webshop in a new country and trying to take market shares from local competitors requires a solid plan, the means to execute it and commitment to see it through.
In many of the smaller countries where we operate, we see too many webshops launch in new markets without the right commitment. Often it leads to broken dreams and loss of money, or in the best case a very delayed success, often delayed by years.
To succeed in a new country requires three important things.
- That you choose a market where your products and prices are competitive and relevant.
- That you are able to provide a seamless buying experience from first contact to everything is settled and if necessary, returns are received and refund is completed.
- That you have funds to launch the webshop and to invest in marketing, taking the webshop through the first 2-4 months, where it will probably not be profitable.
Finding a market where you are competitive can be hard, competition is tough in all countries. In general you could say the bigger the country, the tougher the competition. Also the better you know your target market, the easier it is to sell there.
This is the reason why many succesfull projects are launched in neighboring countries that are similar in size.
When you have decided on what you think is the best market for you, it requires a structured approach to confirm your guess. We call it a Market Scan. Read more about how to approach that task here – or ask us to do it for you.
Developing a seamless buying experience in another country requires a local hero. There are many differences between different countries, in what it takes to give this seamless buying experience.
As consumers we usually don’t leave a webshop because we don’t understand the language or don’t know how to pay. We leave the shop because we are concerned about delivery terms, return conditions and our general trust in the webshop. Having access to a native person knowing how the local people think, and who at the same time is an ecommerce specialist (a local hero), is how to avoid too many abandoned baskets. You don’t need a full time employee, but you need access to a skilled person maybe 4-8 hours per month.
Develop a business case and secure the funding before you start translating. Make sure you have a Road Map giving you an overview of the localisation task as well as any IT developments you might need. This will bring you to the launch day, but you also need to estimate the cost of offering a seamless buying experience and a professional and localised marketing effort. Usually the operationel cost for running customer support, shop maintenance and the localised marketing (excl. media spend) equals the cost of one FTE (full time employee), when it is outsourced to MakesYouLocal.
Knowing this and the IPO (Income Per Order) you can easy calculate how many orders per month are needed to reach break even.
By having this approach there is a very good chance that you will succeed abroad, and we all need our local brand owners and online retailers to do so!