When talking about globalisation, it’s impossible to ignore the role of new technology and how advancements in software, data gathering and digital communications have changed the strategic planning process processes and the way we’re able to operate our businesses. Thanks to technology, the world has become simultaneously smaller in distance and bigger in opportunity.
These developments mean that we now face immense international competition when it comes to making our business not only viable, but but also hugely successful. When looking to sell our products online, we now sit in a marketplace that is larger than ever before. After all – if we choose to – we can implement a growth strategy that aims to sell to the entire world.
But although this means competition is stiff, this position also has many advantages. The margin for profit is bigger than ever. The room for growth is global. We can provide a product that caters for millions.
But to make sure your business is relevant within the global marketplace, it’s imperative to keep up with the expectations of an e-commerce customer.
The growth of international competition in retail means that local Australian businesses selling online need to stay ahead of the curve. But competition is a good thing – it pushes business to perform and streamline, to find efficiencies, whether locally or abroad.
So how can we keep up with, and embrace, international competition?
Make your shipping competitive
Shipping is among the most challenging aspects of running a small business – particularly when it comes to digital commerce – but it’s also the most effective method of attracting both local and overseas customers. The process of making your shipping as competitive as possible will depend on the kind of industry you’re in and the types of things you sell.
Getting a package to your customer requires several different steps. Research is key to optimising these steps, and requires choosing the right shipping company or companies, and (depending on the scale of your business) looking at splitting up your delivery process in order to systematically reduce costs and transit times. Using one distributor may provide a simple solution – but you could be paying more than you need to.
Remember, customers want to know where their package is, when they can expect their delivery, and often easy and accessible tracking can be a good substitute for longer delivery times.
Take advantage of social media
The rise of social media and the adoption of social channels as customer engagement and sales platforms has meant the development of an online world that is essentially boundary-less.
In a matter of seconds, we are able to make contact with a customer in another country, in another time zone. Engaging with customers to drive sales on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram can generate significant opportunities for revenue.
As early as 2015, research service BI Intelligence has found that social networks were driving more e-commerce than email, and this shift shows how powerful these social channels and technological infrastructure can be when it comes to selling your product online.
In today’s landscape, sites like Facebook command enormous customer potential. According to 2019 Roy Morgan research , the social media giant is used by 82 per cent of Australia’s Generation Z (those born between 1991 – 2005), 86 percent of Gen Y (1976 – 1990), 87 per cent of Gen X (1961 – 1975) and 86 per cent of Baby Boomers (1946 – 1960).
An omni-channel approach to e-commerce – that is, selling through social channels such as Facebook, as well as using a central inventory like eBay – is an effective way to take full advantage of these global platforms. Part of the strategic planning process for a modern e-commerce business must be dedicated to exploring and taking advantage of various channels to reach different markets.
Customers are using smartphones and tablets more and more to make their online purchases, and that means your e-commerce website should have a responsive design – adapting its display for desktop, mobile and tablet. Many e-commerce solutions software and design services now offer this functionality as a given.
However large your desired reach, staying alert to changes in technology and customer expectations will mean that your business can thrive in a world of healthy, boundary-breaking international competition.
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Originally published 14th November 2014. Updated 29th July 2019.