E-commerce Business: Overcoming the Challenges of Going Global
There are many benefits to expanding your business globally, with easy access to multiple e-commerce options being one of the strong points that enables you to reach a wider audience. While the idea of expansion is attractive, running a global business has its fair share of challenges and difficulties that if not properly planned for will pose serious risks to your operational efficiency, profitability, and eventually your reputation.
As a business owner it is important that you have a better understanding on some of the common challenges faced by companies just putting their foot on the international stage. Moreover, equipping yourself with some solutions and ideas will guide you through the process of what you can potentially expect when running a global e-commerce business.
MANAGING A MORE DIVERSE SUPPLY CHAIN
Having access to more markets means needing more products to supply to a wider range of customers. To keep up with the increase in demand would mean increasing manufacturing, production, or stock count and this in turn presents a new set of challenges in the supply chain.
Maintaining a consistent supply of stock on an international scale might diminish the overall supply chain efficiency and affect the end customer experience. By building a diverse, more complexed supply chain, all parties involved will be required to increase their output to ensure there is a consistency, which might put a strain on their performance as margins increase.
Optimizing your inventory to continuously supply demand will require warehousing or storage planning with a reliable distribution network so that you can decrease last-mile delivery efforts. This would also be beneficial for your reverse logistics operations.
Operating on a larger scale would also mean that there are more returns, refunds, and exchanges happening within your supply chain. A well thought out reverse logistics process could end up saving time and money.
Focusing on optimizing your vertical supply chain is important to improve your turnaround and output for your end-customers. However, to sustain a reliable and resilient supply chain, you also have to put in attention to your horizontal supply chain. This means engaging in more (or alternative) suppliers, integrate more third-party logistics, or even work with other retailers or businesses to help with distribution.
DEALING WITH INTERNATIONAL RESTRICTIONS
Every country has different restrictions, regulations, and taxation brackets for different commodities. Running a global business means having to deal with these cross-border complications which might cause a company to incur heavy costs on duties and taxes. It could also mean that your customers might incur unexpected duties and taxes, which could seriously dampen their online shopping experience.
As your scale of operations grows wider, you will inevitably be exposed to the regulations of more countries which could lead to a more complicated string of restrictions. Even with proper education of these regulations, there can be unforeseen changes at the country’s discretion or some scenarios where the shipper’s involvement is necessary to clear the shipment.
This is one of the main reasons why third-party logistics providers are essential in liaising, coordinating or even lobbying with regulatory bodies, to assist both the shipper and consignee acting as a ‘middleman’ for a smooth transition of your shipments into various countries.
DHL Express has been expertly handling customs clearance for over 50 years and has built good relations with many governing bodies over the years with reputable and responsible clearance practices. Our well-trained team of international specialists is dedicated to maintain and improve our customs processes to ensure that they are cleared in the shortest time-frame possible.
CATERING TO DIFFERENT MARKETS
If your product has a demand in your local market, it does not necessarily mean that it will have a similar demand in another country’s market. Different consumers of different regions and countries will have varying preferences, and this is where the footwork of your research will give you a better depiction of what to expect.
With the help of online marketing and social media platforms, you can easily track consumers buying habit and have a sense of how customers feel toward your product or brand before officially deciding to launch. This is one of the reasons why a gradual launch in countries of the same region may be helpful to cater to a new market.
For example, if you are doing well in Singapore, your first point of expansion may be in Malaysia or Indonesia. This gives you better control of your operations while having a higher tolerance for errors due to cheaper logistics costs.
Finally, you have to consider the complications of distributing your product. Will you have your own stores after expansion? Or sell through retailers? Or just operate from 100% through your e-commerce website? Either way, distribution plays a significant role to ensure that you have access to your customers in a fast and safe manner.
ESTABLISHING BRAND REPUTATION INTERNATIONALLY
If you have done your fair share of online shopping, you would know that it is almost customary to do research on an item you are purchasing, especially if it costs a substantial amount of money and you would have to deal with returns, refunds or exchanges overseas. This process can be tiresome and off-putting for any shopper, B2B, or B2C, and similarly, demand a large portion of any international business’s focus.
The first thing you would have done is to read reviews from other consumers on their experience. In such cases, any negative review goes a long way in a buyer’s decision-making process. Understandably, it may not be possible to please 100% of your customer base, but offering quality customer service, reliable delivery options, and providing satisfactory resolutions will definitely paint your brand in a good light.
Establishing your brand’s reputation is not an easy task, but it plays a significant role in achieving international success. As your margins increase, you would have to employ more staff to handle the operations and customer services around the world, again, taking on more costs and lesser control.
PARTNERING WITH A REPUTABLE EXPRESS COURIER
Yes, there are many reasons why going global may be beneficial and attractive for your business. But it also comes with risks and additional responsibilities. Therefore, it is important to select the right like-minded partners to work with that can help you achieve your international goals while offering solutions that would remove the complications from your operations.
At DHL Express, we offer a speedy international delivery service, so we can take care of all your last-mile operations while also assisting with your customers' returns. We also employ a team of experts in every destination that we operate into work closely with the customs teams, so you need not worry about complicated customs procedures for your products in all parts of the world.
Our customer service agents operate round the clock, offering you flexible options and solutions to suit your business needs. Finally, wanting to support the growing e-commerce trends around the world, DHL Express has developed various e-commerce tools like On-Demand Delivery, MyBill, and our e-commerce plugin API that offers the seamless transmission of information from your website to us, allowing you to reduce the notification period of courier activation.
We aim to provide you and your customers better, more efficient solutions when it comes to international shipping. Learn how DHL Express can help you go global today!