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How to sell on international marketplaces: 7 top tips to succeed

by Jenni Day
19 September 2017

If you are looking to sell on international marketplaces, you need to consider more than simply enabling delivery options through existing domestic sites or assuming your foreign language site will become a success. Brands need to look at the end-to-end service to compete on a global scale.

Below we have provided a series of tips on how to successfully sell on international marketplaces.

Tip 1: don’t underestimate the importance of research

Before selling on a new ecommerce platform – especially if you want to sell on international marketplaces –  it is important to understand the strategic alignment with your brand. Is it a niche fashion platform with a young demographic? Or a behemoth focused on all categories for all consumers?

Understanding the proposition, carrying out a thorough sales analysis, finding out if there is a demand for your products and discovering the available marketing leavers, will all help to form a picture as to whether a channel is right for your business.

Tip 2: plan for a glocal approach

Brands need to think globally but act locally. Offer a solution that suits the needs of the local market, taking into account the local cultural preferences and regulations.

What works well in the UK will not necessarily work well overseas. Communicate clearly that you are an established British brand, but amend the process and buyer experience to fit the needs of the local consumers – not forgetting to consider local competition.

Carefully select the initial product range to launch depending on seasonality, domestic online product performance, marketplace channel and the local audience of each region. Start with a limited product range to test the process for a few weeks, and then ramp up the inventory when you can see what sells.

Tip 3: optimise data specifically for each marketplace

Marketplaces are among the most visited sites worldwide. But take into account that they are also flooded with products offered by competitors, so it is important to make your products stand out.

You need to think like a local consumer, by selecting the right categorisation and merchandising products appropriately to make them more searchable. Each marketplace has its own specifics, with regards to the presentation of the products. So, taking the time to understand how to best present your product titles, images, tags and descriptions can be the difference between your product being at the top of a search list, or hidden under hundreds of similar items.

Tip 4: human translation is always going to generate better results than Google translate

When selling on a new international marketplace, local consumers are much more likely to buy from a brand that has made an effort to faithfully translate information about products and policies, as well as offering local language customer service. This does not simply refer to translating ‘blue female Nike hoodie’ into ‘bleu femme Nike hoodie’, but it is about capturing the tone and personality of your brand. Tailor your content to reflect what will appeal to consumers in your new market.

Tip 5: use chat and apps, not emails

Providing instantaneous customer support in local languages is becoming increasingly important when selling online. Research suggests that around 40% of buyers abandon their shopping basket and proceed elsewhere if they are not able to find the information they are after. In countries, such as China, WeChat has become integral to successful online retail, where consumers expect a response in second… not hours.

Tip 6: provide speedy delivery and a simple returns process

Fulfilment can be a major obstacle when selling internationally and some countries are still notoriously difficult to deliver to. This can cause delays and damage your brand perception in a new market. So, it is worth investing in perfecting your fulfilment solution by working with locally established couriers, to ensure that your products get through customs, ideally using a tracked method.

Make sure you have a clear and localised returns policy, that you also display on your confirmation emails and dispatch notes. This will improve online conversions – particularly if you can offer a local returns address.

Tip 7: work with a marketplace expert

If you are looking to sell across multiple international marketplaces, you will soon realise there can be a significant difference between each platform when it comes to best practices, legal and cultural nuances and platform specific requirements. At this point, it is best to reach out to a marketplace expert, such as Pentagon, who works closely with a range of global marketplaces and can help drive online success.



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