Ecommerce strategy: how to manage online sales channels around the world?

If you are selling consumer products, online sales platforms like Amazon, e-bay, Alibaba or Lazada may be the way for you to reach your customers.

The key to selling online is localisation

About 2 billion people in the world order online, but only 360 million people are native English speakers. And although there are about 1,5 million people who understand English, you may have better sales chances if you present your products in their own language. And that is only one aspect of localisation. These are the four aspects that you have to think about:

  • having the right products, that are in demand locally
  • being on the right platforms, in the local language
  • doing enough promotion, on local (social) media
  • optimising your process for delivery and returns

Marketplaces work faster than own websites

Global retail ecommerce sales is now around 2.8 trillion and will reach $4.5 trillion by 2021 (source). A number of especially larger retailers sell through their own website, but are in a constant struggle for visitors, looking at the growth of advertising on Google and Facebook. For B2B and for recurring sales this may be the best option, for attracting new customers making use of online marketplaces can be way faster.

Marketplaces account for more than half of global online retail sales, with $1.47 trillion worth of goods sold on multi-merchant shopping portals in 2017. The top 75 marketplaces account formore than 90% of global marketplace sales. (source). 42 are based in the U.S., and they sold $473 billion in 2017, which is about one-third of the total sales volume. (source)

Look outside the USA for better opportunities

The US population is less than 5% of the total number of people and together they generate around 20% of the world’s GDP. At this moment the US is leading in e-commerce, but other countries will catch up. And although US online marketplaces growth was 24% in 2017, the growth in the rest of the world is over 50% (source), driven by increasing populations, internet penetration and disposable income.

This means that smart traders and producers focus on local platforms instead of or Typically price competition on these large platforms is very high. If you put some effort in product translations and further localisation, you may find less competition on smaller platforms.

Sell more online in the native language and the right currency

Shopify research reveals that there isa clear preference for buying local (source). Out of the active buyers on the internet:

  • 75% want to buy products in their native language
  • 59% rarely or never buys from English-only sites
  • 67% prefer navigation and content in their language
  • 92% prefer to shop and make purchases on sites with prices in the local currency
  • 33% are likely to abandon a purchase if pricing is in US dollars only.

However, there may be differences per country: according to Nielsen (source), in Japan only 32% of online shoppers ordered something from abroad in the last six months, while in Italy this was 79%. There may be various drivers behind this: knowledge of the English language, credit card penetration and the lack of good local vendors may play a role.

This entry in online was updated on April 30, 2020 by specialist.