Are you thinking of setting up an international online store? We put together a quick test that will help you evaluate whether your products and business model are suitable for selling online internationally.
The array of products to sell online is enormous. Frankly, creating an exhaustive list of all requirements for online sales that would address every single type of product sold from and to every single market in the world is an impossible task. To keep things fun and easy, we put together a list of questions that you should ask yourself when deciding whether to sell online internationally.
For each question select one answer that best describes your situation.
- Do your products require additional local certification?
- No / Yes, and we have already certified.
- Yes, and we have to certify anyway.
- Yes, and we should be able to certify fairly easily.
- Yes, and it would be a nightmare to get approved.
- Are your products technically compatible with local standards (e.g. electrical standards)?
- Yes, and we have to create a specific product range anyway.
- Yes, and it should be fairly easy for us to create a specific product range.
- Yes, and I don’t even want to try because of cost/technical difficulty.
- Do you have a local fulfillment center?
- Yes / I have local partners.
- No, but I can ship internationally easily.
- No, but I can appoint local partners.
- No, and it would be challenging to arrange.
- How would your local partners feel about you selling online?
- I have a local subsidiary, so there would be no conflict of interest.
- I have a dedicated distributor/agent with whom we could cooperate on running the international online store.
- I have appointed a few distributors, but they haven’t delivered much, so no hard feelings if we lose them as a consequence.
- Having an international e-shop would seriously jeopardize our distributor relationship, which we value highly as it is of a strategic importance to our international business strategy.
- How competitive is your target export market?
- There are no competitors or only a few indirect competitors.
- There are a few direct competitors.
- These is a moderate level of competition.
- It is a highly competitive market.
- What is the demand in your target export market?
- There is a high existing demand with a very positive future outlook.
- There is a low existing demand with a very positive future outlook.
- There is a high existing demand with an uncertain future outlook.
- There is a low existing demand with an uncertain future outlook.
- Shelf life - Are your products perishable?
- Yes, within months.
- Yes, within weeks.
- Yes, within days.
- Shipping - What best describes your products?
- You don’t have to ship them, you just download them.
- They are small and lightweight.
- They are fairly large and/or heavy.
- They are extremely large and heavy.
- Matching customer expectations and returns - What best describes your products?
- Standard products adhering to industrial norms. Low return rates. E.g. mechanical parts.
- Non-standard products that fit all sizes or where sizes can be specified with high accuracy. Low-to-moderate return rates. E.g. sport equipment.
- Products with more problematic sizing and/or important visual element. Moderate return rates. E.g. clothing.
- Other products whose characteristics result in high return rates.
- What best describes your typical sale?
- We sell many items to many customers.
- We sell many items to a few customers who re-order frequently.
- We sell many items to a few customers.
- We sell only a few items to a few customers.
- What is your business model?
- B2C direct.
- B2B direct.
- B2C indirect.
- B2B indirect.
Count your total of points as follows:
A = 3 points
B = 2 points
C = 1 point
D = 0 points
If you left any questions unanswered, add 1 point for each such question.
25-33 points: Good to go
What are you waiting for? It seems that your product and business model are perfect for an international online store. Your products fulfill most requirements to be sold into export markets and they’re easy to sell online too! Take advantage of this opportunity and make more happy customers all around the world! Find out how.
17-24 points: Nearly ready
You should seriously consider setting up an international online store! Even though there might be a few challenges and things to sort out in the process, it’s an opportunity worth pursuing. See challenge checklist below.
9-16 points: More work to do
Setting up an international e-shop might be a good sales channel for you, but it will require more research, preparation and hard work to achieve your sales goal using an international online store. See challenge checklist below.
0-8 points: Go for international online marketing
It looks like running an international e-shop would be quite a struggle for you and the benefits might not outweigh the cost at the moment. Maybe it’s a question of time getting the infrastructure ready, maybe this sales channel is not just meant for you. Consider an alternative sales channel and using online presence only for marketing.
Go over your answers again and make two lists:
- Challenges related to local standards (certification, technical compliance)
- Challenges related to selling products online (product size, characteristics, returns)
Which challenges outweigh? Local standard challenges suggest that the barriers to selling online internationally are the same barriers to exporting successfully using any other sales channel – your products are not just ready for your international market yet. Once you have this sorted, you’re ready to go!
Product challenges suggest on the other way that you’re ready to sell online internationally, but you just need to be a little more cautious in your planning. Having a local presence in form of a subsidiary or distributor can help mitigate most risks to a high extent.
How to sell products online internationally?
If you would like help setting up your international e-shop, get in touch! Together we will help establish the right strategy to help sell your products online internationally and help you get both technical, design and content components including translations and optimization for search engines ready!