How to Expand Your Fashion eCommerce Business Internationally
- Research international markets
- Setting up payments, shipping, and returns
- Marketing strategies for international eCommerce
Selling fashion items online locally is not such an arduous task. On the other hand, it’s much harder to expand a fashion eCommerce business internationally. And once one achieves big success on their local ground, it goes without saying that they would want to explore growing their business roots on a global scale. If you’re thinking about expanding your fashion eCommerce business internationally, there are some things you should know first.
For instance, did you know that the number of online buyers grew by over 1 billion between 2014 and 2021 on a global scale? This trend is expected to rise even more in the next ten years. Proportionally, profits will increase as well.
There are a few things any online fashion store owner needs to do before they move to international eCommerce. Basically, the plan consists of three main key points. They will help you understand the targeted market better, set up shipping and payment methods, and find out market opportunities.
Research international markets
No one should think about expanding their fashion eCommerce business without conducting some research upfront. To find the best market for your business, you need to start with statistics. It’s crucial to find out how much people spend by region and what are their habits. In other words, you need to get to know each region more deeply even from a cultural point of view.
You might not know this yet, but you can find out more about a market, by performing short research. Let’s start by using your store’s Google Search Console. To find out where your customers come from, click ‘performance’ in the left column of your dashboard. Then, select the date to ‘last 12 months’ in the filter section. Finally, select ‘countries’ in the second info chart, instead of ‘queries’ which are selected by default. You can see the number of people who have clicked on your store, as well as how many of them have seen it in search results.
Now, the more precise way to find out more about a market is to use Google Trends. You can find out a lot about what is currently trending on a global scale. More importantly, you can see the latest stories and insights, what people read about. Even better, check which keywords are most browsed in the past 24 hours. The opportunities with Google Trends are endless. For instance, it can help you with keyword research in more than one way. However, you can use it for basic tasks such as finding out what’s trending in the market you’re currently targeting.
But, above all, you’ll need to measure the market size, i.e. percentage of Internet users in the targeted country. Usually, combining these statistics with your trending products turns out to be the winning combination. But, this is just the beginning. You can’t just find a great country to target with your fashion eCommerce business and expect miracles to happen. You’ll need to complete a few fundamental tasks first. Such is the case with payments and shipping for a successful international eCommerce store.
Setting up payments, shipping, and returns
If you’re serious about selling abroad, make sure your store is ready for international eCommerce. Every local population has different payment methods and providers. Expanding your store with local payment methods will almost certainly increase your sales abroad.
Choosing the right local payment options
When you’re planning to conquer new markets, you need to adjust your business to it, and not the other way around. It will require some time to prepare for this, but it’s nothing you haven’t done before.
It’s important to perform research about local buyers’ preferred payment options by country. For instance, in the Netherlands, almost half of the population uses direct debit cards for online payments. On the other hand, German online buyers prefer to pay via electronic invoice, PayPal, or credit card. In conclusion, you’ll need to set up the market’s preferred payment option, in case they differ from the ones you already use.
Remember, always choose a payment provider known for online payment security, as well as reputation. The most popular payment providers include PayPal, Stripe, Square, Cayan, etc. Of course, any customer willing to make a transaction on your site needs to make sure their money doesn’t end up in the wrong account or worse, stolen.
Without achieving this, your store won’t be able to compete in the world of international eCommerce. Many shoppers prefer payment gateways such as PayPal, due to the easy, transparent, and safe payment process, however, there are countries where people are still hesitant and skeptical about PayPal.
Shipping and returns internationally
Setting up international shipping options is an essential part of the setup. In case you are running a fashion dropshipping store, make sure your supplier ships worldwide and in record time, too. Even if they charge more than usual, customers should never wait. If you’re selling high-ticket products, try balancing the profit margins at the expense of shipping.
The last thing in this section, before you switch to marketing, is to announce a returns policy on your online fashion eCommerce store. Letting your customers know the return options based on their location, can only be perceived as a positive thing. It can also increase customer trust because you show everyone that you mean business, literally. For example, if until now you have been targeting US countries, you would have to rethink your return policy for European countries. When European laws and regulations are in question, business owners are obliged to provide a 14-day return policy.
Marketing strategies for international eCommerce
When expanding to international eCommerce, it’s basically like starting from zero. Your fashion store would be new to the scene, and you’ll have to be quick and aggressive about entering the new markets. Make sure you’ve got enough budget to advertise it for at least a few months until at least part of the targeted population has seen or visited your store. Some of the few expert tips about marketing your international eCommerce store are the following.
When starting an eCommerce business, it comes naturally for the target language to be English. But, when thinking about expanding to international eCommerce, there’s one thing you shouldn’t overlook. It’s called language localization. In other words, if you are thinking about expanding to European countries, you should have in mind that people prefer navigating the Internet in their native language. In fact, in numerous countries, including Germany, Spain, France, and Italy, would greatly appreciate it if you offer them the opportunity to shop using their native language. Therefore, before moving forward with your international eCommerce business expansion strategy, look into language localization options.
Optimize your website
When optimizing your store for international eCommerce, there are a few things you need to know. Nowadays, the majority of experienced eCommerce business owners recommend dividing the budget into two parts. With the first part, spend a small amount of money to fix and adjust the website. This includes installing multi-language support, introducing international shipping, and other similar corrections. Remember, you don’t have to redesign the entire store for this, so make sure to leave enough money for the next step. Naturally, the next step should be used to generate more traffic coming from that market.
Strengthen local SEO
How will you generate more traffic, and hit higher positions in search engines when expanding to the new markets? The answer is local SEO optimization. Executing thorough keyword research based on target countries is a must. By learning what your potential buyers are researching on the Internet, you can improve your sales, content, SEO, and advertising strategies.
Create local social media profiles
Ever since the moment you enter the new “playground”, you’ll notice some of the local competitors. However, you’ll be a brand new store with tons of products at your disposal, better prices, discounts, and other benefits. Unlike the existing competitors and their stores, you, as a new player in the local game, can invoke curiosity within the target audience, by building a local social media presence.
For example, if you plan on targeting customers in Argentina, simply create a new Facebook page, using your existing store name, and adding ‘Argentina’ at the end. It should look something like ‘Bella Fashion Argentina’. Now, spend part of the marketing budget on getting likes for the page. You can select the target audience by region, median income, specific interest, etc.
Find local influencers
Another good idea for hitting the international eCommerce landscape would be to find local influencers. You can either browse them by hashtags or use influencer platforms such as Influence.co to find them directly. Hiring local influencers means you can find more of them, contact each one for pricing, then decide, based on each influencer’s fan base, audience reach, and recent performance.
Also, don’t forget to be active on the page and schedule at least one post daily for a minimum of 60 days. It’s very important for the visitors to know you mean business, so don’t forget to make all posts appear professional, with a neat design, localized and industry hashtags, and positively provocative descriptions.
Overall, it’s not that hard to expand your fashion eCommerce business internationally. Most likely, the hardest part is to set up payment options because it requires technical expertise. However, you need to consider this a long-term investment, something which should, in return, bring in major profits.
Remember, many of your fellow competitors are afraid to take the next step. They would rather stick to making $500-1000 a month, selling locally. Now is the time to take advantage, since the competitors won’t know what you’re up to. If you’re one of those people willing to earn more and aren’t afraid to risk it, there’s a pretty big chance you’ll succeed.
About the Author
Kristina, Head of Content at BrandsGateway. Eternal inspiration: The Doors music and lyrics, Bernardo Bertolucci's timeless “Stealing Beauty”, and the dynamic and meditative Ashtanga Yoga.