Selling online through e-marketplaces is a great way to build a customer base in another country and to get exposure for your brand and products. There are many countries in the world that crave niche and innovative British brands, whether it be in fashion or technology. Listing your products on an e-marketplace can be a low risk approach to going international and allow you to test the water.
This section on reaching customers online through e-marketplaces will give you some tips on the steps to follow to get you started:
Choose your e-marketplace carefully
We’ve all heard of Amazon and eBay and most of us have used one or both of them. We usually use the UK version of these marketplaces, but you can also sell into many other countries around the world in local versions of Amazon and eBay.
If we step away from the main players we see that there are hundreds of other e-marketplaces in many countries of the world. The regional players include Rakuten, starting in Asia but becoming more and more global, and Mercado Libre which is the king of e-marketplaces in Latin America. The giants in Chinese e-marketplaces are the threesome of Alibaba, Tmall and Taobao, with many others emerging close behind them. Scratch the surface a little more and you’ll see specialist online marketplaces like Laso in Japan and Tejuri in the UAE, giving access to millions of customers in their local country or region.
In many parts of the world, customers prefer to buy from an online marketplace than from a company’s individual website.
Managing your e-marketplaces
One of the great advantages of using an e-marketplace is that it is truly local. By reaching customers in this way, you will already be making use of a localised service – the marketplace will offer local currencies, local payment methods, suitable delivery methods for that country and will comply with all the local terms and conditions. Many have their own payment methods such as PayPal (eBay), Alipay (Alibaba, Tmall, Taobao) and MercadoPago (Mercado Libre).
Translate your listings
To appeal to local customers and to be found in local search engines you will have to have local language product listings – most e-marketplaces insist on this and will help you to do this. You may need to select your products to appeal to local cultures and local tastes, including updating the messages, the copywriting and the images. International customers are more likely to buy from you if you do this.
Do your maths
These online marketplaces may seem like a dream come true for international selling and there is a lot to be said for this way forward. However, as with everything in life, listing on a marketplace is not free and you need to check all costs involved including listing, commission and currency charges, as well as considering the options for delivery, returns and local support. If you are serious about selling into a local marketplace, it is probably best to have a local language speaker on hand to provide customer service.
Despite the amount of research and work that you can put into selecting the right marketplace for your company, the benefit at the end of the day is a pool of keen customers, ready to get to your brand and your products.