The holiday season is a busy time for businesses. It’s the time of year when people feel generous, showing their appreciation for everyone important in their lives with gifts. This year had been tough for many of us. But it doesn’t mean the spirit of giving will be canceled. The isolation has made us realize more the importance of our relationships, and we’re excited to at least show something for how we feel.
If you have been thinking of exploring the foreign market, now is the time to start. Shipping and other necessary logistics are back in most parts of the world. With the slowdown in production the previous months, retail supplies might not meet the demand this holiday season.
Additionally, although malls and stores are opening up, there are still many people hesitant to go out. Online retail will continue to have a captured market for some more months, especially with delivery services now better than it had been before the pandemic.
Doing online business targeting a foreign market, however, could be complicated. Here are a few basic things to help you start the process.
Hire some local staff.
The bulk of the transactions would be online. But you will need some support on the ground. First of all, your marketing strategy needs to be localized. What works for your home base may not be culturally appropriate in other countries. The preferences and priorities of your market would also differ. You could hire staff for marketing and communications to tailor-fit your marketing campaign to this new country.
Similarly, it’s difficult to deal with grievances from overseas. If there are complaints about your products, it is better for the complainants to talk to someone instead of simply emailing or, even more daunting, calling international numbers. People’s perception of online shops could vary depending on their perceived ability to return damaged products. Make your support service accessible to possible clients.
When it comes to keeping books, though, find a CFO consulting company near you to do the finance work. It’s difficult if your books and accounts are overseas. Make sure to go over with them any tax liabilities not only in your home country but also in your foreign market. Customs might need you to go through some procedures so your goods won’t be held.
Match your products with local cultures.
The lifestyles in different countries vary a lot, even those with similar income brackets. It’s good if you could conduct thorough research on the market you wish to enter. Still, if it’s too much for you at this point, you could contract select ‘informants.’ These are representatives from your target market who could give you an understanding of how their population behaves. Magazines and fashion brands used to have this arrangement with teenagers. They provide freebies to their informants in exchange for trend insight.
Scout local influencers. Celebrities could be expensive but go for the key individuals. They are the ones who may not be as popular as the celebrities, would have fewer followers, but are the ones influencing the celebrities. These are the stylists, editors, low-key socialites, and the like. Whatever they do, they’re society’s so-called Cultural Pioneers. If you need to spend, spend on them. They are the trend starters.
Get in touch with local retailers.
Another way to market your products would be to go through another layer of distributors, the local sellers. Since they will be marking up for their profit, you would need to offer lower prices. But you could arrange with them bulk orders so that you get to save on shipping.
Don’t be afraid to deal with local but online retailers. Although they don’t have established business addresses, you can review their credibility through online feedback. Online sellers will also help in your marketing since they will be sharing your products on online platforms. You could even boost these specific posts to get your products to reach more viewers for a small amount.
Arrange a deal with a shipping company.
With shipping and delivery services becoming more competitive because of the pandemic, you could get an arrangement that would help you lower your shipping costs. Check out companies that are still starting but with a good performance record.
Sometimes the speediest is not the best option. Check the condition of the goods. Choose the company with the least number of damages and the compensation they provide for broken or lost shipments.
Keep in mind that the sales you might get during the holiday season would not be the same for the entire year. Market conditions are also changing once the health crisis is over, and the world is back to a relative norm. If you wish to sustain your business for several years, choose products that would be useful with or without the pandemic. Just use this season as an entry point for building partnerships and establishing your system. You could gradually shift to other products once you have a better idea of the foreign market.