Once you’ve become an established player in your home market, it can be difficult to further expand your business. So you might search for ways of fine-tuning your website to squeeze some more conversions or attract more customers.
Although this is a beneficial aspect to dive into, it requires a lot of time and A/B testing. It is also a tedious procedure with marginal results. But another option to expand your business is to explore other markets.
This is not easier nor does it need less effort.
But the results could be significantly better. To expand internationally, you must first look into which markets are best for you. And then see how you can localize your shop for them.
Finding The Right Market
Many business owners go with their gut feeling in picking the next market to expand to, without diving into the data. This could be a recipe for disaster, which may waste time, money...
Or even worse: losing the willingness of expanding internationally and sabotaging the potential growth.
An excellent tool that can help you make an informed decision is Google’s Market Finder. With this, you’ll just have to insert your store’s domain and choose where you want to expand.
There are two options:
- Within the US - this will recommend you the best states which offer the best opportunities for growth
- Globally this will recommend the best countries to expand to.
This tool gives you great insights into the suggested markets. For each country, Google will tell you 4 important factors:
- The number of monthly searches across the categories you have deemed relevant for your business.
- An indication of the market competitiveness through the average cost-per-click (CPC) for related keywords in your chosen categories. This is based on a 5 point scale ranging from ‘Very low’ to ‘Very high’.
- The average household net disposable income
- The ease of doing business index. This is ranked from 1 to 190 and helps you understand if the regulatory environment of the country is more favorable to the starting and operating of a local business.
To add another layer of data, you can look in your Analytics account and see the traffic by Geographical location (Audience > Geo > Location). Just look at the top countries the traffic originates from and compare it to Google’s Market Finder recommendation. This should give you a good direction to start with.
If you still don’t know whether the markets you have found are the right ones for you, test them! As a first step, you can set up product feeds to target only free listings. These have the same format as Google Shopping ads, but they are completely organic, so you don’t have to pay for the clicks they generate.
To make sure you get the most out of them, here are a couple of things you can do:
- Include all product variants in the feed. This will give more exposure rather than having only the main products showing.
- Have the local currency enabled in Shopify payments and use it in the product feed. This way, you can show users the prices in the local currency and let them use it at checkout, as well.
- If you already have multiple languages set up in your shop, consider having translated feeds. This will increase the performance drastically.
If you choose to test the markets with the free listings, you will have to wait to gather some data. We suggest waiting at least a month, but the more the better. In the perfect scenario, you can set these up months before you even think about expanding. So when the time comes, you will feel more confident about the decision.
To help you create product feeds for each market, you can use the Google Shopping Feed XML/CSV by AdWords Robot. With it, you can create product XML or CSV feeds for each language-currency combination, local inventory feeds, and it also offers multiple customization options to suit your needs.
Expanding To The New Markets
As a rule of thumb, after you decide you want to expand, we don’t recommend going to more than 3 new countries at the same time. Otherwise, the workload might be overwhelming.
To start, think about the particularities of the consumer’s behavior in that specific market. What does the customer journey look like? How do consumers prefer to complete the transactions? What language do they use for searching for products?
We cannot give you any indications for any particular markets, but we can walk you through the basic steps to have a good start point.
1. Have your shop translated to the local language and use the local currency
If you try to export in different countries but don’t have your website translated to the local language and don’t display the prices in the local currencies, you will miss out on both traffic and conversions.
For example, let’s take the following scenario: your store’s language is English, you have an English product feed, and you use Google Shopping to advertise in France.
Here, Google will not match your products with the queries written in French. Only if someone is looking for your products in English, your advertisement will show. And considering that 65% of the users prefer content in their own language, we can assume that they are searching for products in their own language, as well.
Also, having the prices displayed in the local currencies will help the user know exactly how much the products cost without looking it up. And keeping them on your website will decrease the chance of them abandoning the carts.
2. Set up the proper payment methods
After you have made sure that you can get more traffic by offering your content in the local language and currency, you need to consider the payment options. In order to offer the best experience to your visitors, you will need to accept a wide range of payment methods.
The more payment options you offer the better the chances of the visitors to find their preferred one. We recommend offering at least the usual ones like bank cards (Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Maestro), eWallets (PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay), debit cards, and ‘buy now, pay later’ options (Klarna, Afterpay). And if you want to appeal more to the younger generation, you can offer crypto payments and accept Bitcoin (or other coins).
Another important factor that greatly affects your conversion rate is the shipping time. The longer the shipping time, the slimmer the chance of landing the conversion.
If you are dropshipping, you could look into suppliers who are shipping from/close to your target country. This should reduce the shipping time (and costs) considerably.
Another option, for more established businesses, would be to buy stock for the best-selling products (tested earlier through the free listings) and send it to a third-party logistics company (3PL). This will require a bigger investment upfront, but if everything is researched and set up properly, it will be a great strategic move.
4. Pay attention to customer support
The last thing we want to point out is customer support. This is a crucial part of doing business.
And this has two important factors: language and proximity. You want to offer customer support in the target market’s language. And you want to offer speedy replies, so the time zone difference should be almost nonexistent.
The best way of tackling this is to assess which are your biggest potential markets. Then outsource the customer service to freelancers/agencies in the same/a very close time zone as your customers. Preferably, you would like to hire someone who speaks the customers’ language fluently. As this can be a bit tricky, you can also get away with running your messages through Google Translate in the beginning.
Why is this a great opportunity?
Retail e-commerce sales worldwide are estimated to reach 6.38 trillion US dollars by 2024. This means there will be plenty of space to grow your ecommerce business and enjoy the benefits of multiplying your potential reach.
By targeting new markets, you are decreasing some risks. For example, if something happens in the home market and your sales decrease, you will still have revenue streams that you can rely on in other countries.
Also, you can benefit from the economies of scale. As you increase your number of customers abroad, you can reduce the cost per sale. For example, you can use the same marketing creatives for multiple countries. Or you can reduce your product sourcing cost because you have more sales.
You can also reduce the seasonality effects on your business. Let’s say you have products that sell better in the cold season. If you sell these products in both hemispheres, you can have the same level of sales throughout the year.
What do you think about expanding to other countries? Share your thoughts down below!
Gabriel Huluba is a Google Ads specialist for AdWords Robot - a Google Premier Partner agency. He has 6+ years of experience in helping online stores grow their business with the help of marketing automation.
Together with his colleagues, he has helped hundreds of clients achieve and go beyond their goals with the in-house developed automation tools, their extensive knowledge, and their close partnership with Google.