How to target overseas customers

Follow our simple steps to increase your visibility overseas

Exporting is exciting, particularly when using an online medium to promote your business. The internet opens up a global market, and has the potential to fuel exceptionally fast growth. There are currently more than 2 billion internet users in 200 countries, with nearly 100 million of them in English speaking countries. So how can you target international customers?

Selling abroad is not as complicated as you might think. We have compiled a simple set of steps to help you.

Offer international delivery

Many companies still only deliver to the UK, with some not even reaching out to the islands and Highlands. By offering international delivery, you instantly reach a global market. Provide information on shipping costs, taxes and duties and estimated arrival time for each country targeted.

Make your delivery charges affordable

When we asked overseas shoppers what prevents them from buying from UK websites, most mentioned the delivery charges. It is vital that retailers offer affordable delivery to overseas customers, otherwise they won’t buy. Other research also suggests that the cost of carriage should not exceed one third the price of the goods and that free delivery is an attractive option.

Be clear about customs charges

Most non-EU shoppers are concerned about customs charges - many websites have intimidating and punitive warnings, suggesting that customs charges can often be prohibitive. However, sales within the EU incur no customs charges.

Make sure international payment works

It should be easy to take money for an online transaction. Most international buyers use MasterCard or Visa and Maestro is becoming increasingly popular. Also consider offering Paypal.

Translate your website

If you have identified a target market overseas that is non-English speaking, then translate your website and make sure it is searchable in the target language.

Convert prices

Create a tool that will translate your prices into euros, dollars or the currency of your target markets.

Provide customer support

Unless targeting a country where a majority of the population can speak English (e.g. Sweden, Netherlands), it is important to offer some degree of support in the local language. Offer an email, phone number or live chat support and remember to consider time differences.

Check out the local competition

Make sure you understand the local pricing structures, service expectations and nuances of your target country.

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