Are you already at that stage where you consider expanding your business? Do you feel like selling abroad is the next natural step for your online growth?

If your ultimate goal is to build global brand awareness, then the next step in your business plan should be cross-border e-commerce. There are a few things you need to consider before you open up abroad. We’ve prepared a series of articles to help you successfully prepare your store for selling abroad and reach your goals within the first three months. 

The first and most important thing when it comes to cross-border e-commerce is to thoroughly explore your options and decide where to sell.

Market Research 101

There are a few basic steps you need to have in mind before you decide on a location. Make a list of prospective e-commerce locations and research thoroughly the market volume. This includes comparing the numbers of internet users and online shoppers for each country you have in mind. Another statistic you need to have in mind is what percentage of these online shoppers are inclined to purchase from foreign websites. Aim for the more trustworthy markets at first. 

Picking a new e-commerce market also includes researching the YoY e-commerce growth. Are local internet users starting to make online purchases more and more with each passing year? It is a sign of a healthy market with the prosperity of good sales if that statistic is on the rise.

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Another crucial metric to look out for is the average online spend per year for each location you research. That is perhaps one of the most essential statistics to weigh when you conduct your research because it will help you calculate how much you can sell. It will also give you an incentive to pursue. 

Having all of these things in mind will help you narrow down the options to only a few prospective markets for your cross-border e-commerce. Then, choosing the right location might have to come down to the language and culture barrier. Research the cost of language translations and how your product will fit into the country’s culture. If what you want to sell is as foreign as the moon, then perhaps you need to look out for one of the other hand-picked markets.  

Then SEO comes into play… because it all depends on SEO, doesn’t it? The last thing you need to have on your quick research list is to look into the best keyword for your niche. Everything else starts here.

Go Deeper

Besides the most necessary research needed for your cross-border e-commerce sales, there are a few more things you need to have in mind if you want to be successful with your new business endeavors. Knowing your new customers is a no-brainer but your market research should step on more than this. 

Once you’ve chosen where to sell abroad, you need to research web stores in your business niche. It’s important to know your competitors’ strategy and sales tactics, yes. But analyzing the competition will give you another angle, which you need to consider before you start selling abroad. That angle is the knowledge of how their business is doing. Answer yourself about how competitors’ sales are going and whether they struggle to succeed in your business field. That’s how you will know whether it’s worth investing abroad. Also, learning from competitors’ mistakes will give you a good head start. 

The next part of your cross-border e-commerce analysis is the new market’s courier transit times and prices. That will help you calculate shipping costs efficiently and delivery times as it’s one of the most important things for your customers. It will also give you a good idea of your overall spending. 

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Coming up in your research list should be the social media usage in the new country you’d like to expand your business to. Most web store owners that flourish abroad, succeed through a good social media presence. So, determine not only the internet users but also the percentage of social media usage. Once you do that, figure out the most used social media channel. There are countries where, surprisingly, Twitter dominates and there are countries where Facebook and Instagram see a rise in users each year with close to zero competition. 

From here come the sales channels. Perhaps there is something else you can use for your cross-border e-commerce in your new market. Look at what else works – marketplaces, physical product catalogs, phone prospecting, mobile apps. Create a good sales channels strategy that will best fit the new location you plan on expanding to. 

And last but not least, research the average conversion rates in your business sector on a local level. This way you will be prepared and know best what to aim for. Because where are you even headed without a set goal? Write it down and create a strategy to achieve that desired conversion rate. 

Next Steps

Stepping on these research learnings will give you a good head start in cross-border e-commerce. By analyzing each prospective location, you have the best chance of expanding your business to the right market. Think wisely about where to sell next and calculate each of your learnings by following our step-by-step guide above. 

So, what’s next? After choosing where to sell, there are a few more things to consider before opening the doors to your new customers abroad. Next, you will learn how to best prepare your business for cross-border e-commerce. Stay tuned!

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