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3 strategies for taking your online business overseas

Photo: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

There is a silver lining to the lower Australian dollar for online retailers. In the past two quarterly eWAY Online Retail Reports, the value of sales delivered to international postcodes was up a whopping 60 per cent compared to the same quarters in 2014.

The opportunity to tap into the overseas market — if you aren’t selling internationally already — is bigger (and easier) than ever.

As with local online selling, the key is to make the process frictionless and smooth for international customers. The growing international appeal for Australian products thankfully has come at a time when the platform integrations and tools available to help sell easily overseas are greatly improving.

Here are three key pieces of advice from eWAY if you’re looking to tap into the huge potential of international markets, grow your global brand awareness and ultimately, grow your online business.

Customising is crucial

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Getting to know your international target market is crucial. Which country are they from? Which timezones are they in? What season is it where they are? Customising your store or website to cater to specific regional needs will instantly increase your chances of converting international sales.

At the very least, you should be offering prices in multiple currencies. Selling to British in GBP or Americans in USD instantly increases your credibility as a seller and eliminates conversion fees and exchange rates that impact your profits.

Make sure you have a store platform and payment gateway that supports multi-currency selling. That said, selling in multiple currencies can create a reporting headache if your payments platform does not offer simple reporting, so make sure you can manage all of your accounts in one place or you’ll spend more time on admin than growing your business.

Segmented marketing is also key if you have international buyers. Big retailers like Asos don’t advertise coats on their website to their Australian customers in December. You can get as tricky as you like with geo-targeted website content, but at the very least segment your eDMs for each region — including time, products and currencies. It’s a simple and cost effective way to ensure your newsletter about summer dresses doesn’t hit Judy from New York at 3am on a December evening, which we all know is pointless. Any decent eDM software like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor for example should allow you to do this.

Cards and rates on offer are important

It’s important to remember that different credit cards can be used differently across regions. American Express and Diners, for example, are much more widely used in the US than they are used in Australia.

Many Australian merchants offer only Visa and MasterCard because payments platforms often have complicated and varied fee structures when it comes to other cards. But if you’re selling internationally you’re at risk of missing out on conversions if you don’t broaden the range of cards you accept.

If you’re not offering American Express due to the higher fees, have a look around for payments platforms that provide a flat rate across all cards regardless of category or country of origin. There aren’t many, but it’ll save you a tonne in fees and also time on admin and reporting.

Make sure delivery and returns processes are up to scratch to ship internationally

Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

International shoppers are used to delivery and returns policies a huge notch above what is widely offered in Australia. If you’re selling to this market you’ll need to make sure your offering is up to scratch.

Don’t panic though — you don’t have to do this yourself. There are a range of shipping platforms and courier services entering the market that make this process easy and affordable, as well as a good experience for your customers.

Companies like Temando, enable you to manage all of your shipping services, both local and international, in the same platform without involving third party systems. This type of solution removes pain points such as duties, taxes, custom forms and selecting cost routes.

Of course when it comes to smashing international sales, there are endless lessons we can learn from others who have achieved this before you. Selling internationally doesn’t have to be complicated though. There are many user-friendly tools for merchants to prepare your online stores to sell to international shoppers.

Following these three key guides as a start will help you take full advantage of what is a ripe time for Aussie small businesses to be opening up to the world.

Matt Bullock is founder and CEO of eWAY, Australia’s leading omni-channel platform that powers payments for 24,000 Australian businesses and processes a quarter of all online spend in Australia.

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