International Business

Build an International Business: Tips for Creating a Successful International E-Commerce Website

The Internet presents the perfect opportunity for small business all over the world to meet and do business in a true international market place. In addition to building the perfect e-commerce website and planning the business, there are a few key tips that will help establish a good business and build a solid customer service reputation.

Make It Simple for the Customer

Remove any potential barriers that might stop the customer from making a purchase. This means making the buying process as simple as possible and to ensure that there is no room for confusion.

Some simple ways of avoiding any potential pitfalls include:

  • Use good close up photographs of products. This will help to avoid any confusion and this lets the customer know precisely what they are buying. Photograph products clearly in a good light, showing details of labels, measurements or other features that might be important to an international customer.
  • Set out clearly the terms and conditions of sale: This might include the policy labelling packages for customs. Some less than scrupulous customers may also ask that the value of the goods is incorrectly declared on the customs slip. Specifying that this is firmly against the company’s policy will help to stop this question being asked.
  • Clearly state if there are any countries that goods will not be shipped to. Some companies prefer not to ship goods to countries where there is a strong likelihood of the goods going missing or getting damaged en route.
  • Give customers an idea of delivery times. While it is important to let a customer know that this is for guidance only, it helps to set the customer’s expectation for when the order will be received. Most delivery and courier companies are able to give an estimate of how long parcels will take to reach even the most remote countries.
  • Have a customer service policy. Specifying how long it will take to respond to customer questions, bearing in mind difference in time zones, will help manage a customer’s expectations. Many customers will find it useful if the company makes it clear which time zone is being referred to. Most people will naturally assume, unless told otherwise, that a time zone is their own, and therefore may find it frustrating if they cannot get hold of a company, not realizing that it is out of business hours.
  • Consider having a free phone number for international calls. If this isn’t feasible then encourage customers to use low cost Internet call services such as Skype. Other low cost customer service options include online ‘chat’ facilities that operate in a similar way to online messenger systems. These allow customers to ‘chat’ with customer service or technical staff at little or no cost.

Selling a product or service into an international market isn’t difficult and can be very rewarding. Keeping it simple for the customer can help to build a strong international business.