When talking about globalisation, it’s impossible to ignore the role of technology and how advancements in software, data gathering and digital communications have changed the way we’re able to operate our businesses. The world has become both larger in opportunity and smaller in distance, thanks to technology.
These developments mean that we now face immense international competition when it comes to making our business work. 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 sell to the entire world.
But although this means competition is stiff, this position 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 good – 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.
If your profit margin allows it, offer free shipping; or offer free shipping to your most loyal customers. For anyone who has has shopped online is a major draw. However, if this isn’t a viable option, then good, efficient tracking could be the answer. 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 business’ adoption of social channels to engage with their customers and specifically to increase sales 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 and Pinterest can generate significant opportunities for revenue.
Research service BI Intelligence has found that social networks are now 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.
An omni-channel approach to e-commerce – that is, selling through social channels such as Facebook, but also eBay, Amazon and Trademe using a central inventory – is an effective way to take full advantage of these global platforms.
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.