How to Expand Your eCommerce Business by 20% in a Month
Do you sell on eBay or your own online store? Do you feel like you’ve reached a ceiling in your e-commerce efforts? There’s a simple solution that many e-commerce moguls don’t think about. It’s simple. Expand overseas.
But I’m small potatoes… I can’t go global…
You may run a 1 or 2 man operation and be intimidated by the prospect of expanding your business overseas. Maybe you’ve settled with offering international shipping, and settle for the ridiculous shipping price that nobody ever would pay to have your items shipped to them in Europe. There is a way to expand your reach to the far corners of the world, and it’s easier than you might think. It’s called product fulfillment.
Seriously? Then where?
What I did was start with the largest English-speaking market outside of North America- the UK. I recommend if you’re starting out, do this as well. You can always expand to other English-speaking markets, like Australia, and even go so far as to have your site translated to different languages and use shipping fulfillment there to reach the market.
In the UK, I use Shipwire. Basically, I ship cases of merchandise to Shipwire’s warehouse in London, and as I sell to customers in the UK and Europe, it ships from the warehouse in London. It ships quicker, cheaper, and more professionally than if I tried shipping from here. Not to mention, customers tend to want to buy items in their own country – go figure. Shipwire allows me to have a UK operation without actually being there. It worked so well I ended up using them for even my domestic shipping, for pretty much the same reasons, and to free up our own time. They charge you a per-shipment fee which varies, based on your shipping volume. Usually it’s around $1.90 per item. For a small operation like ours, it’s FAR more feasible to use fulfillment like Shipwire for a simple fee of $1.90 per item than it is to hire a UK lawyer, set up a company, an office, staff, etc there in the UK.
If your product can be sold in the UK, and has equal demand in the UK, you can easily expand your customer base by 65,000,000 people, or 20% (assuming you’re in the USA).
Step-By-Step Instructions on Expanding your eCommerce Business to the United Kingdom
Step 1: Research Demand
Even countries as similar as the USA and the United Kingdom have many differences that could possibly void demand for your products there. If you sell electronics, make sure you are selling the right voltage; If you’re selling DVDs, make sure you’re selling the right versions; Don’t expect American political humor items to sell well in the UK; Etc.
Step 2: Build a UK Site
Make sure to snag your .co.uk domain. This would be best if it were the same domain as your main domain. This is the best for obvious SEO reasons in that country, as you begin your SEO campaign for this site. The next best would be to use a subdomain like uk.yoursite.com. Change nuances like British slang, change currency to pounds, add your toll free number, and you’re set.
Step 3: Get a UK Phone Number
Depending on your volume, this could be as simple as getting a simple Vonage UK phone number, and forwarding it to your local line, or as complicated as hiring an outsourced call center to manage your phones in the UK. Either way, when a UK customer goes to your site, and sees a local toll-free number, they are at ease knowing they’re dealing locally, and apart from YOU, they are.
Step 4: Sign up For Shipwire
Go to Shipwire and sign up for a free trial, send some product, give it a shot. Your packages will have your chosen company name on the “From” address, and your customer will get their orders quickly and be as happy as can be. One benefit of the United Kingdom is that the country is so small, shipping from the Shipwire warehouse in London is fast, like 2 days, even when paying for a cheap mailing service. Your customer will not have to even pay customs, which is another huge plus and marketing point.
Step 5: Sell
Once you are all set up and have all aspects of your UK presence in place (.co.uk site, toll free UK phone number, Shipwire warehouse) you are now accessible to 65 million new potential consumers, and with very little risk. I mean, for a few hundred dollars, IF THAT, you’re in business.
Disclaimer: Make sure to at least consult a UK accountant if you start seeing a significant volume of sales, because once you get beyond a certain number sales you’re required to pay VAT and register a UK entity. I keep my sales there under the threshold and never had to deal with this.