International e-commerce: what you need to know before getting started

4 Mins Read
facebook sharing button
twitter sharing button
linkedin sharing button
Smart Share Buttons Icon Share

With the booming international e-commerce market, what steps should you take to get a slice of the pie? Here are some key things you need to know before expanding your business internationally.

With low barriers to entry and set-up costs, practically anyone can start selling online. Indeed, the global e-commerce space offers businesses plenty of opportunities for expansion and growth. In 2021, retail e-commerce sales totalled an astounding US$4.9 trillion worldwide and are expected to reach US$7.4 trillion by 2025

While new opportunities are aplenty, it is also getting increasingly challenging to stand out in a saturated market. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to expand your business beyond Australia.   

1. Have a market entry plan 

Before getting started, you’ll have to know your target audience. Will you be targeting businesses through B2B e-commerce or targeting consumers directly? Study the demographics of your potential buyers and get acquainted with their needs and preferences. 

Then, research your competition and understand what they are doing in the digital commerce space. This will give you an idea of the strategies that are working and the ones that are not. You can then use this information to formulate a market entry and pricing strategy that will set you apart from your competitors. You'll also need to do some research to figure out if there is a market for your product in the countries you're targeting, and if there is, whether or not it's a saturated market. 

Finally, after you’ve done your homework, you'll need to come up with a business plan. This plan should include a description of your business, your target market, your marketing strategy, realistic financial projections, and a company structure.

2. Decide on an e-commerce platform and create your website 

Now you have a business, you’ll need a platform to market your products. When it comes to digital commerce platforms, there are a few popular choices, such as Shopify, Adobe Commerce and BigCommerce

You'll want to choose a platform that is easy to use and has all of the features you need. Once you've selected a platform, you'll need to create a website. This can be done with the help of a professional web designer, or if you're feeling adventurous, you can try creating your own website using online tools such as Wix and WordPress

3. Optimise your e-commerce site

Now you’ve got your site up, you have to get people on it! Make sure Google loves your site by using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to drive organic traffic. You can seek help from a professional for this or use tools like Surfer SEO or Ahrefs.

To engage potential customers, don’t forget to write compelling product descriptions and use high-quality, aesthetically-pleasing images. 

You will also want to make sure your site is optimised for global users. This means making it accessible in numerous languages and adapting your international delivery options to meet the needs of customers in other countries. For example, consider offering a variety of shipping options, such as standard international shipping and economy international shipping. In addition, be aware of cultural differences that may impact how people interact with your site.

Offering a variety of payment options like PayPal, Wise, and various credit cards can also help you tap into a broader market and minimise cart abandonment

Finally, do some research into the legal requirements of doing business internationally – depending on where you're selling products or services, you may need to register with local authorities or comply with specific regulations.

4. Leverage analytic tools 

Analytic tools like Google Analytics will help you track your website traffic, sales and performance across different countries and make adjustments as needed. Without the proper analytics in place, it can be challenging to determine which markets are performing best for your business and where you should focus your efforts. 

5. Consider international shipping options 

Once you’ve sorted out your target market and digital commerce site, it’s time to research international shipping options. Consider the type of international shipping you need and the shipping rates in markets that you intend to enter. Working with a reliable logistics partner will benefit you greatly in terms of minimising delays, providing shorter delivery times and ultimately, increasing greater customer satisfaction. 

DHL Express offers competitive shipping rates and provides reliable e-commerce order fulfilment and tracking support. Sign up for an account with us and let the power of our network connect your e-commerce business to the world.