Global E-tailing

May 2, 2011: Global E-tailing

Several weeks back, we noted (Found in Translation) that as the world becomes smaller, the opportunities conversely become larger. This is underscored by a survey that was recently reported in Internet Retailer magazine, which reported that currently over “70 percent of U.S. chain retailers, web-only merchants, catalogers and consumer brand manufacturers sell online” to international customers. And 40 percent of the retailers who aren’t yet selling globally, are actively considering trying it.

Targeting global customers is not an easy task. According to the survey points the challenges include: dealing with fraud, legal and regulatory concerns, customer service issues and merchandise returns.

Of course (again as noted in Found in Translation), language can often be an issue when you target global customers. The retailers’ most popular solution (selected by almost 21 percent of them): using the local language to sell their products. A smaller number (18 percent) offered customer service support in the native language, and 16 percent gave local-language telephone support.

But for many of you, the big question is likely about marketing to foreign customers. Of those surveyed 40 percent of the e-tailers said they generated the best sales conversion the by using “geographically-targeted online marketing.” This includes search, affiliate marketing, and online display ads. Next in popularity, (but trailing far behind at 11 percent) was sending geographically-segmented or personalized emails.

It may seem like an overwhelming task to take your business global, but it’s inevitable, since your competitors are either already selling internationally, or planning to. There are more resources than ever before to help U.S. small businesses go global, and technology makes it so much easier to do so. Check out the great resources and advice from the Small Business Administration.