There’s no better time to set up an ecommerce business than today. Set-up costs are falling and evolving technology is helping ecommerce start-ups through to SMEs to scale up and deliver global growth quickly.
Let’s look in more detail at the five key factors that are set to drive this opportunity for SMEs:
Plethora of channel partners offering immediate global reach
Want access to a huge a global audience quickly? For retailers of all sizes that’s no problem. You can set up on most channel partners, such as Amazon and eBay, in the morning and start selling on their platforms in the afternoon.
However, ecommerce retailers should also consider partnering with the leading channel partners in the markets they want to operate in. There’s Cdiscount in France, Real.de in Germany, Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in much of Asia - an ecommerce site that’s now increasingly global.
For those with niche products it’s important to contemplate appearing on potential marketplaces that sell such products, such as Etsy for handmade products and crafts and Bonanza for unique items.
By offering a variety of retail options for your customers to buy from, you increase the convenience and ease of purchase, which in turn, boosts profit. And by selling your products through other online retailers means you’re not dependent on any single revenue stream – such as your own.
Reasonable shipping and warehousing
The boom in ecommerce has come at a time of competitive global shipping rates, along with reasonably priced warehouses to store products for fulfillment.
In the ecommerce age many global and local courier services are focused on delivering products quickly, and are able, dependent on the location of your warehouses, to offer same day or next day delivery.
To make sure that you pay the most competitive rate for a shipping service bear in mind that volume is key - delivery costs come down the more product is sold and delivered. So, you need to be able to accurately predict the volume of orders that will be delivered, as this will help you to negotiate the best price with courier you choose.
Warehouses are competing for retailer custom with competitive pricing, with 60 per cent of warehouse space used by retailers, up by about a third from a decade ago. It’s only in urban logistics facilities that offer ‘the last mile’ in the fulfillment process that are seeing increased costs due to their growing popularity from retailers in locations of restricted space.
There’s always the opportunity to outsource for those retailers who don’t want to manage their own warehousing and fulfillment process. Services such as Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), enables retailers to place their inventory in the Amazon fulfillment centre and sees Amazon handle the shipping, returns and customer service. This facility is also available for products sold directly via the retailer’s own website, to make the whole process as easy as possible.
Content management systems (CMS)
No longer do retailers need to have any knowledge of HTML, CSS or other coding when updating their websites, or rely on web developers to make regular site changes. Using CMS technology on platforms like Magento, WordPress or Shopify, retailers can easily update their website with images and text.
Not only is CMS convenient for busy retailers on-the-go as they can log-in anywhere, but CMS enables websites across multiple countries and regions to be updated via one CMS – making the whole process quick, easy and cost efficient.
To succeed in overseas markets retailers need to ensure they’re using the right language, tone of voice and that their content is written in a style that will engage their target audience.
To achieve this it’s not as straightforward as translating copy from one market into another. You need to understand the cultural nuances of the target region and adapt your message to your audience within it. This is the only way you can effectively connect with audiences on an emotional level and is why retailers must use transcreation services over simple translation.
Transcreation is a booming area, so there’s a wide choice available of those who can identify your target audience, understand their habits and motivations and craft tailored messages that resonate with them.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) come of age
In ecommerce it’s essential that web pages load up very quickly and offer speedy functionality and performance.
For those that operate globally there can be issues with page speed, because the further away someone is from the server which is hosting your website the greater the delay that person experiences in accessing it. Therefore, if your website is hosted on a server in London and someone accesses your site from New Zealand, they will experience an annoying delay in the site load time and functionality.
This is an issue CDNs can solve. They are a network of geographically distributed servers which caches your static content near the location of your visitors. They provide the fastest way to deliver content from your website application to people based anywhere in the world.
One of the most popular, and the one we recommend, is CloudFlare which routes your traffic through its global network. It automatically optimises the delivery of your webpages to achieve the fastest load times and helps to deliver the best performance possible.
Before any SME sets out on its journey to drive global ecommerce growth they should look to source an ecommerce agency with a track record in driving worldwide sales for their clients. It’s these agencies that will help them take advantage of the opportunities currently available and set them on course for global success in 2019 and beyond.
Leo Matthews is a director at Xigen