How to expand your ecommerce store to new countries - a practical guide

Great ideas, passion and motivation are all things that are key to running a business, but hopes and dreams alone won't make a successful, global ecommerce store.

It’s important to ask yourself practical questions when it comes to expanding your business globally: What languages do I need to consider for my target markets? What about tax? What are my international competitors doing? How can I ensure fulfilment is seamless irrespective of where it takes place in the world?

Luckily Gelato can help with all of the challenges when it comes to global expansion of your business. Whether you’re a seasoned store owner already selling globally and looking to grow even more, or are just starting to consider expansion, our practical guide to growing your business can help answer many of your questions - and ease any worries – as you embark on the exciting venture of taking your brilliant business to new heights.

1. Take stock (figuratively and literally) of your customers

Step back for a moment and have a think about who is buying your product(s). Who are they, really? If you have a social media following, take an audit of who is interested in your brand. Where are they from? If you have a high proportion of customers from a particular region, think about expanding your product offering, or social media strategy, there. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers or customers what it is that they’d like to see more (or less!) of.

2. Know your competition

Who and where are your main competitors and how are they doing things differently to you? Take a closer look at what they’re up to in other markets. What are their customers loving? Are your competitors targeting their customers with great deals or high-quality products? If you’re able to tap into the psyche of what other successful businesses in your space are doing to grow and keep their customer base, you’re well on your way to doing the same.

3. Act like a local

When you look to expand your business into other regions or countries, a different language may not be the only hurdle to conquer when it comes to successfully launching your brand to new audiences. It’s important to consider other practical issues such as currency exchange, measurement discrepancies (metric vs. imperial), cultural nuances such as symbols or colours (insignificant to you, but relevant to consumers in the potential market), as well as time zones.

When it comes to currency exchange and even price points of your products, take a good look at what your competition is doing in the particular region in which you are looking to break. Keep in mind that in some places, people may pay completely different prices for the exact same product from somewhere else.

Finally, make sure to be transparent with international customers about potential customs charges. Luckily, with Gelato this is often something you do not need to worry about because many of your products are often fulfilled in the same country as where they are delivered. (More about that below!)

4. Research, research, research

Along with familiarizing yourself with what your competition is doing, before entering new markets, it’s essential to conduct market research. If you target consumers in a country where there is no demand for your product, you can end up wasting both time and money. Therefore - find out where you know there is demand so you can generate successful business from the offset.

One way you can do this is via Google Trends. This tool enables you to explore trending topics, products and searches via Google by country. By doing your research you can determine which countries to target and when, rather than flying blind and gambling valuable resources.

Another thing to consider is to pay a freelance designer to review the design trends in the specific country. You can easily find a designer over freelance platforms, Upwork being one of them.

5. Work smarter, not harder

On top of everything else that comes with running a successful ecommerce store, managing your supply chain can be a challenge. Managing it alone is even tricker. Especially when it comes to cross-border commerce, a seemingly simple transaction can quickly become a tangled web of complexities and potential bottlenecks and delays. By placing the entire fulfillment process into the hands of a production on-demand partner like Gelato, your valuable time can be better spent on perfecting other areas of your business while we take care of every step of the process from an order comes through your store and until it is delivered at your customer’s doorstep.

6. Sell globally, produce locally

While it might sound odd, the key element of maximizing your chances of international success is staying local. When you produce products closer to the customers, delivery times are faster, shipping distances and carbon emissions are reduced, and you avoid much of the hassle associated with international shipping and logistics. You can also compete on par with local competitors, and offer your customers a better delivery experience that helps increase customer satisfaction and reviews. You can read more about our sustainability strides here, and how we aim to produce 90% of all orders locally, in the same country as they are delivered.

With more than 100 production partners in 32 countries, Gelato has you covered. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at apisupport@gelato.com.

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