Today’s customers know various ways to find the best deal for the items they need. They have the knowledge to do product price comparison, product background information, seller and brand’s reputation, reviews from other customers and product delivery service satisfaction. Numbers of customers also preferred to purchase from a certain brand, only if they are able to track product delivery status.
To meet customers’ demands, businesses that plan to scale up business operations need to own end-to-end supply chain solution that improves efficiency and provide seamless customers’ online shopping experience. This is crucial especially when businesses are doing cross border delivery, selling products directly to the international customers.
For an example, a home-grown business – Photobook Malaysia that is known for its high quality photobooks faced challenge of meeting customers’ requirement to track and get an updated status as it did not have a proper tracking system while the business was in the midst of increasing presence in the international market.
In order to break the limitation that stopped the business from growing and to increase first time customers’ trust, Photobook partnered up with DHL Express that offers competitive delivery rates, excellent customers service and provide value-added and delivery features to enhance customer experience. Photobook itself also implemented a system in its production plan which seamlessly integrated DHL Express’ services. Once an order is ready, it will be scanned, shipping label is printed and affixed to the packaging. Customers will get an automated update on the status of the package.
Another way to make product and service appeal to the international customers is to gain real understanding of foreign customers’ wants and needs. Businesses don’t even need a physical presence. Here’s a few ways to do it:
1. Understand the targeted market and audiences: Leverage on a few resourceful local and international websites that can help to gain the latest insights of international market trends, strategy analysis of the landscape. A few websites that are available for business owners here – ecInsider’s Marketplace, MATRADE, Euromonitor International, Brandwatch and Export Gov.
2. Consider the cultural differences: Cultural nuances can have a big impact on how a business operates. Business owners should find out how much it would cost to hire someone as a full-time local cultural advisor. If hiring someone from the outside isn’t possible, a company can always go the do-it-yourself route as the Internet if full of information.
3. Follow local trends and modify as needed: It doesn’t need to be as drastic as changing the products entirely but only to changing the packaging, modifying the distribution channel or targeting a different customer niche.
4. Find out the locals’ preferred payment methods: Bringing convenience to the targeted market customers are one of the important factors for business successful rate.
5. Don’t let customs or regulations slow down business’ growth: It is essential to understand the target market’s rules and regulations before sending the first shipment
Sometimes, potential customers will think twice before they hit the ‘Check Out’ button due to the shipping options and pricing. How could business owners avoid customers from closing the browser tap and move on to other shopping sites? Here’s a few methods to make premium shipping more palatable to international customers while still earning profits:
1. It is important to reduce website’s complexity and ensure customers are able to load the website fast and have a smooth online shopping experience.
2. Businesses could offer free shipping for first time customer / upon registering as a member; offer discount code for return customers to reward them for being local to your brand.
3. Businesses that aim to reach worldwide customers should display their local currency could be a nice gesture as international could have a little psychological hurdle to cross when they see prices in foreign currencies.
4. Offer more shipping options! Businesses could offer various kinds from premium shipping, express shipping to affordable shipping depends on customers’ budget.
5. First impression matters. It is important to ensure customers who choose premium shipping get their products speedy or as per the promised schedule as it is a great opportunity to build brand loyalty.
- 4 Steps to Understand Customers in a Foreign Market, Western Union (Western Union)
- 5 Custom tips for taking your business overseas (DHL SME, August 2017)
- 15 Ecommerce Trust Drivers You Can Set up Right Now to Make People Buy (Big Commerce)
- 5 Strategies to Get Customers to Trust Your Ecommerce Store (Shopify, July 2012)