The art of defining your global offering

Is your ecommerce business the online equivalent of a big box store, carrying everything including the kitchen sink? Or does it feature a limited, but popular, selection of products? Have you thought about exactly which of those products you want to first offer your global market?

The next installment of our Going Global for Ecommerce series will give you insight into what factors to consider when expanding into foreign markets.

Choose the appropriate market

We could write a book on how to choose the next foreign market for your ecommerce site. But you’ll need to take the following factors into consideration:

  • Competitor presence
  • Local proximity for shipping
  • GDP per capita and market size
  • Language
  • Currency
  • Electrical system
  • Web and mobile adoption
  • Tax
  • Channel partner presence
  • Trade agreements
  • Political stability

Treat market choices as seriously as you would a hiring decision. If red flags appear in your research, do not treat them lightly. If there are shortcuts (for instance, translating into Spanish provides access to larger audiences), take advantage of them.

Decide what to offer—and how much

Some businesses embrace the “everything under one roof” model. This works well if there isn’t a competitor in your target market that offers such a broad range of products. Other businesses choose to focus on offering just a few products to their foreign market, a decision they come to after performing market research and finding a specific need those products serve.

If you go this route, you may want to provide a way for international users to request unavailable products, especially if you’re known for them. Either way, careful research of your target market is essential. But before you decide on your offering.

Identify competitive and/or non-competitive categories. Which products or categories of your store will be appealing to your target international audience? Consider:

  • Electrical needs
  • Weight
  • Fragility
  • Cultural factors
  • Cost advantage
  • Availability
  • Seasonal needs

Test a subset of your products. You don’t want to test all your products at once— translating and optimizing all of those pages and converting currency would take too much time and resources. Instead, choose a subset of your high performing products by revenue or sales to test in the foreign language. Trying things out on a small scale allows you to refine your approach with minimal investment.

Iterate (and translate) based on performance. If you’ve contracted with an “always on” responsive translation service, they can translate product pages one by one as each stock-keeping unit meets a predefined threshold. If you need to decide which pages to prioritize for translation, this is the leanest method.

Determine your level of service

Just like you have to determine which products to offer, you also have to decide on the level of internationalization for your website. There’s “shallow” internationalization that covers the basics like multi-currency and international shipping, but that route won’t make your website any easier for foreign prospects to find and use.

We recommend striking a balance between investment and accessibility. Consider:

  • Translated international content
  • International currency support
  • Internationalized payment methods
  • International billing addresses
  • International shipping
  • Internationalized content
  • Country-specific content

All of these come with the perks of making your site easier to find and use for your target international market. You’ll also want to plan for “globetrotting” users who have a different billing and shipping address, and don’t forget to warn users who cannot purchase your products (if they live in an unsupported location).

Is your ecommerce company ready to launch its products into the wide world? Learn to choose your target markets, how to approach ecommerce content translation, and how to structure your international website with our free download, Going Global: Ecommerce Best Practices.


Lauren Van Mullem

The author

Lauren Van Mullem

Lauren assists in content production for Gengo's marketing team. As a former food and travel writer, she has experience communicating with all kinds of people from around the world and believes in celebrating different cultures through understanding them.

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