Over the last few years, e-commerce has taken the world by storm. The rise of online buying and selling worldwide is radically reshaping consumer spending and purchasing habits, the prices of consumer goods, the efficiency of global supply chains, and many other aspects of modern commercial activity. And because more people around the world are shopping online nowadays than ever before, the time is ripe for merchants and retailers to consider expanding their digital presence into new and larger markets.
While entering new markets is by no means a straightforward process for any company, there is arguably no currently existing business model that adapts to expansion more naturally than e-commerce. The digital nature of online retail makes it easier for businesses to extend their reach beyond local communities and deliver their products and services to a wider, more diverse customer base. Firms that are willing to put in the research work and invest in the technology required to support their growth can look forward to fruitful returns sooner rather than later.
Here are 4 important steps e-commerce businesses should consider taking to facilitate an efficient and productive expansion:
Partner Up with Dependable Financial Service Providers
Any business, no matter how small, should definitely maintain its own bank account and e-wallet accounts. This helps entrepreneurs keep personal and business finances separate, monitor business income and expenses easily, and control cash flow. However, startups and scale-ups with their sights set on long-term growth and more particularly on entering new markets shouldn’t partner up with just any bank. These types of enterprises should work with banking institutions that offer a full range of corporate banking products and services, such as corporate lending, supply chain finance solutions, and trade finance tools.
Corporate banks supported by robust digital banking infrastructure offer partner firms the flexibility, 24/7 accessibility, and efficiency they need to operate at the top of their game. Businesses with ambitions of expanding their reach worldwide should look especially for financial institutions that can support multicurrency, multilingual, and multientity operations. The right partner bank will help unify a company’s financial processes and deliver the real-time transaction visibility and responsiveness that only digital-first banking institutions can achieve.
Understand Your Target Market
Businesses branching out into new markets must get to know local consumers deeply and intimately if they want their e-commerce operations to succeed. To start with, they need to gather critical information about their target customers, such as their average age, income, levels of digital literacy, and their most pressing everyday needs and concerns. Some potentially productive market research questions e-commerce businesses can explore include the following:
- How would we describe our ideal customer?
- What problems or struggles does our ideal customer encounter regularly?
- What products and services will our ideal customer purchase to solve these problems?
- What solutions can our business provide?
- What sets our business apart from competitors offering similar solutions?
- What are the best ways to communicate with our customer base?
E-commerce businesses should also do in-depth research into surrounding market conditions and other factors that might affect their operations in their chosen location. Internet and digital penetration, beliefs and attitudes surrounding online shopping, and the competitive landscape are all key factors businesses should investigate in great depth as they expand.
Choose Your E-commerce Platform Wisely
A digital commerce platform is the foundational technology that enables customers of a particular retailer to purchase its goods and services online. This platform is responsible for key business functions like subscription management, payments, product cataloging, marketing, and much more. While small businesses can probably get away with using multiple separate systems for these functions, businesses seeking to expand will find integrating them into a unified system more efficient overall.
When choosing an e-commerce platform or investigating a replacement for an incumbent system, firms will want to prioritize flexibility, efficient payment processing, and manageable cost of ownership. Because their chosen digital commerce solution will form the bedrock of a company’s sales, it’s also risky and probablyunwise to invest in emerging, untested, or dubious providers. It’s ultimately best to stick with well-established and respective platforms instead.
Invest in Tools to Create Great Customer Experiences
E-commerce companies must commit to providing a superior customer experience that’s well-adapted to the needs and preferences of the local consumer base. The ability to pull off this adaptation successfully will often spell the difference between just surviving and truly thriving in a new market. Luckily, there are many ways to create a quality customer experience no matter where in the world you’re selling.
To improve customer experiences in new markets, e-commerce businesses can create localized versions of their website or mobile app, customize purchase flows and cart templates, and use adaptive pricing. Websites and mobile apps should also be optimized for all devices, with easy-to-tap buttons, clear images, and fast, seamless loading. These and other similar strategies help tailor the purchasing experience to the needs and preferences of customers in specific regions.
Though venturing into new markets is not without risk for e-commerce businesses, it can also open doors for immense success. Companies that link up with the right financial partners, leverage the technology at their disposal, and make an effort to understand their new markets will be well-equipped to navigate any challenges that arise as they expand.