Updated: May 27, 2019
According to E-commerce Europe and many other organisations, the challenges you face in international VAT handling, import tax’s and differences in privacy policies, are the biggest hurdle for companies to succeed abroad. This is relevant challenges, but:
Being able to handle local VAT will not make your webshop better than the local competitors!
Everyday the VAT, import tax and legal differences are handled by many successful international webshops. It is not that difficult and can be solved. But solving these challenges will not be enough, you are facing local competitors born with some very important advantages.
They will have lower shipment costs
They are able to handle returns at a lower cost and higher speed
They are part of their countrys culture and e-commerce habits
They experience their competitors activities everyday on TV, online and in social media channels
Therefore it is important for a webshop to look at the other side of the initial challenges mentioned above. We see 4 areas where a webshop must feel confident about their ability to handle them:
As a business you need to understand the competitive situation in a new market. Can you see your webshop succeed in this market, when you compare your offer to the market with the competitors offer? Can you match their prices, assortment, delivery time, return terms, trust and other areas where customers might benchmark you?
Seamless buying experience
Make it easy for yourself. Prepare a platform that will give the costumers a seamless buying experience. Avoid compromises on payment methods, returns or other areas, it will only save you a few euro’s, but instead give you two problems 1) a reduced conversion rate and 2) make it more difficult to explain the results.
Budget for marketing investment
To start up a new market will take an marketing investment. You need money to attract visitors to your site and the first visitors will not convert in to customers as easy as you hoped for. You will also depend on bought traffic since you don’t have a re-marketing list or a lot of people talking about you.
You will need help from an online marketing specialist with local experience – and even him or her needs time to test your products and webshop against different channels.
Bottom line is that it will cost you extra money before you will see a strong conversion rate and happy and returning customers.
Understanding the market and the competitive environment
To decide on a new market requires a good understanding of the competition and the market, but it is just as important to follow the market and the actions of your competitors after the shop has been launched.
This will help you maintain your competitive advantage, make sure your webshop meets the expectations of the customers and make it possible for you, to get the most out of your marketing investment
>> Proper planning and a “local hero”
Our experience is that it is possible to compete against local webshops in new countries and succeed.
To do so it is important to take the right initial decisions. Try to understand the competitive situation (let us do a Market scan or do one yourself), this will give you a strong understanding of the competitive situation and what you will be up against.
Use freelancers or our native shop managers as the local hero’s of your webshop. They can make sure you know what you need to know to take the right strategic and tactical decisions in the new market and help you keeping your webshop professional, localised and appealing for the local customers.