Today’s online merchants are able to expand eCommerce sales to new markets and regions easier than ever before as there are many businesses and services that enable merchants to reach customers in these markets as well as fulfill orders and reduce the complexities associated with international shipping.
Even in the world of eCommerce opening sales to a new region or country can be a big investment considering the need to create a new localized website while understanding the customer preferences, regulations and other requirements for successfully entering a new market. Rather than creating a full website when first entering a market, an alternative that many major brands have taken in China is to open an online store in the popular and well established Tmall site. Tmall is the B2C arm of Alibaba which also operates Taobao, the largest auction site and marketplace in China, and AliPay, the largest alternative payment brand in China and the world. Recently the National Basketball Association opened a Tmall store to expand sales to Chinese customers and other major brands with stores on Tmall include Reebok, Dell, Proctor & Gamble, GAP and Chevrolet.
The advantage of a Tmall store is the ability to open sales in a new market with less cost and time investment than building a dedicated local site, but fulfilling orders to new regions is the next major step. While eBay will soon be launching an international shipping service for their auction sellers there are services independent eCommerce merchants can utilize as well. Retailer Toys“R”US recently partnered with a B2C parcel shipping company called i-parcel to expand international shipments to 68 countries. When international customers checkout they are transferred to web pages operated by i-parcel to confirm delivery information while including all tax, duty and shipping costs. The company also provides customer service support for these internationally shipped orders.
Shipping internationally can be complicated, but using such services enables merchants to begin reaching new markets, even if just for international customers shopping from the domestic site. But as sales to new regions grow merchants can also consider catering more to local markets through B2C online shops like Tmall or creating new localized websites to appeal to consumers in these countries and regions.
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