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Bringing The Holiday Cheer Beyond Borders: Three Steps To International Selling

aymentAs the Christmas rush is already in full speed, countless shoppers are looking for new ways to shop to escape the dreaded holiday traffic and jam-packed malls. With the convenience of the Internet, this could create big opportunities for online and social sellers who are looking to expand their businesses.

Beyond the borders of the archipelago, waves of customers throughout the region are also seeking products they can buy this yuletide season. Asia Pacific is a hotbed of online shoppers, as per the study released by eMarketer. The study projected that sales are expected to climb $2.725 trillion by 2020. Globally, the retail e-commerce sales are estimated to top $27 trillion by 2020.

These figures present good prospects for online sellers in the Philippines, especially since the local online market for trade goods and services could swell up to $19 billion by 2025. The same research also said that opportunities for e-commerce will climb to $9.5 billion by 2025[1].

Before a business takes its venture out to the global stage, it is best to lay out some solid groundwork to ensure that the business will run smoothly and seamlessly. Here are three steps that can help business-savvy entrepreneurs get ready to conquer the international market this holiday season.

First things first: Put a plan in place

A plan is essential for entrepreneurs before they open their businesses to the world. Businesses who are just starting out may want to begin small by selling a few items in the market. Testing some key products and knowing more about the market can help them better identify the next steps for the business. Once they feel they are ready to expand, they can now invest more heavily.

  1. Find your target markets

Like any new venture, it pays to do the homework. First step is to learn about the preferences and profiles of international customers, what they buy and how they shop.

Gather market intelligence

Start by looking at internal data to see from which countries people are already buying the products. Then, try further expanding reach into these markets, even if only to test selling specific products.

Research demand and local buying trends

To help develop target markets, research the top countries that have strong demand for the products or niche specialty. Is there demand or a gap in the market? Try to learn as much about consumers’ spending patterns and from which countries they typically buy from.

  1. Consider how customers want to pay

With the initial market research out of the way, start thinking about how to get paid. This is an important step, because checkout is the point at which international shoppers tend to abandon their purchases — either because their preferred payment method isn’t available or because they don’t feel confident their payment will be handled securely.

Buyers’ preferred payment methods

It is important to be aware of the preferred payment mode by buyers in the market. Also, in general, people prefer paying in a familiar currency; so for products sold internationally, it is important to think about being able to accept different currencies. And, if the payment is not being offered in local currency, make sure a clear currency conversion is shown so customers can see what they’re paying.

To help make it easier and quicker to start selling internationally, look for payment providers that address these. PayPal, for instance, allows sellers to accept major credit and debit cards, bank and PayPal payments; so buyers can choose to use their preferred payment type. PayPal also allows sellers to accept multiple currencies from multiple markets.

Choose a payment provider with a reputation for security

Look for a payment provider with a strong global reputation. PayPal, for instance, ranks among the top payment methods for international payments because of its renowned security and protection policies (i.e. Buyer and Seller Protection).

  1. Plan your market entry

There are a couple of options for entering a new market — from starting small on an existing online marketplace, to optimizing the current website or setting up a local web presence in specific countries.

Start small on an existing online marketplace

Established sites like eBay can often give large reach. They allow sellers to test demand for your products before committing a large sum to redeveloping your existing site. Other online marketplaces that may be popular among target market may also be considered.

Optimize the current website

A slightly more advanced option is to optimize the website for international buyers. Start by simply highlighting the online shop’s ability to accept international orders with information on countries served and the shipping information.

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