The German market is not enough for you? This is how your online shop takes off internationally

The world is your marketplace. At least it can be – if you dare to take the step into international business. You can read here why you should do this and what you need to consider on the way there.

“Made in Germany”: We rock!

Products from Germany enjoy great popularity all over the world. An elaborate study on the quality assessment by country of manufacture by Yougov in cooperation with the British Cambridge University showed in 2019 that German products are in first place worldwide. Only six percent of the survey participants attribute a negative image to German products, with over half of the respondents they are associated with a positive impression.

So why not sell German products internationally?

Granted, Germany is of course already exporting very successfully. It was not for nothing that Germany was the third largest export country in 2018 (after China and the USA). Internationally, you can not only sell classic export goods (in our case these are primarily cars, trucks, machines and electronics), but also all other goods. Preferably, of course, those that are already being sold online in Germany.

Many e-commerce retailers still shy away from entering foreign markets, because the decision to sell their own goods internationally comes with a number of challenges. But it’s worth it, because foreign markets offer huge potential – with a huge potential clientele.

This is especially true for German providers. While German online shoppers only obtained 32 percent of the goods bought online from abroad in 2018, the proportion is significantly higher for many European neighbors. 72 percent of the goods that Belgians bought online came from abroad, 81 percent for Austrians and as much as 84 percent for Irish. The best conditions for German e-commerce providers.

But what should you watch out for in e-commerce across national borders?

Other countries other manners!

What seems pretty obvious at first shouldn’t be underestimated. Not only is the language different, the (online shopping) mentality may also differ from country to country.

A translation of your shop page and product descriptions (possibly also machine-generated) is not enough. It is important to strike the right note and make overseas consumers feel that you are actually speaking their language.

This also includes an appropriate design of the shop and a structure of your shop page that corresponds to the country. While Europeans prefer more sober and structured online shops, for example, things can be more opulent in Asia, with a wide range of products right on the first page. The worlds of color and images also differ greatly from region to region. Working with professional translators, designers and people who know the new target group well is therefore essential.

You should also have (at least) a lawyer on board, because the legal situation also differs from country to country. We are talking about various tax rates and customs fees, certain delivery conditions and other terms and conditions, and data protection. Within the EU, this is at least uniformly regulated by the GDPR, but completely different provisions apply in other markets.

Shipping and the logistics behind it are also important issues, as is payment in different currencies and payment systems.

And all of this is only a fraction of what has to be considered when opening up international markets.

If the thought comes to you at this point: “Phew, maybe it’s not worth the effort”, let me tell you two things: First, it’s worth the effort! Second, with the right strategy, everything is half as wild!

Your strategy for getting started on foreign markets

Every journey begins with a first step

This also applies to your goods when they make their way to a foreign buyer. You don’t have to start your very own shop abroad. You might not even want to.

Instead, it can make sense to set up a brand shop on a marketplace established in the target country (e.g. Ebay, Amazon, Allegro in Poland and Bol.com in the Netherlands) and initially offer a few selected products there. If you achieve good results with this, the offer can then be expanded until you can finally set up your own shop in the target country.

The use of a marketplace not only means less risk and less effort for you, but also a lot of linguistic, legal and logistical relief, as the operators deal with many matters (such as language and structure and the web shop, payment systems and clarification of complaints and Returns) yourself.

On the other hand, the use of already existing marketplaces is sometimes accompanied by restrictions, for example with regard to the product range or certain requirements for pricing and the delivery process.

ChannelAdvisor provides assistance

So marketplaces can be a complicated business, too, but you can get support. ChannelAdvisor has specialized in supporting e-commerce providers (with international sales) and offers a platform with which various marketplaces (including, of course, Amazon, Zalando, Otto and Co.) can be managed. The platform was honored with the E-Commerce Germany Award 2020 as Best Solution for International Expansion, combines all essential marketing, sales and fulfillment activities and can make your start in international markets much easier.

If you first want to deepen your knowledge of marketplace management or digital marketing specifically for e-commerce, you can do so with the free e-book from Channel Advisor . It explains step by step which challenges await you on the way to international sales and what you should consider as an online retailer.

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