Today, what is happening in the offline world of retail is being replicated in the online world as well. With brands moving to overseas locations to cater to a larger chunk of clientele, the same strategy has made way into online retail. The buzz today is not about taking a brand to the virtual world, it is about extending boundaries in the virtual world. Reaching out to customers not just through brick and mortar stores but giving them the convenience to shop sitting in a foreign country. Pawan Gadia, Vice President, Ferns n Petals Group, says, “Today, the world is becoming a global village and customers are present all across the world. In order to achieve the targets, one needs to go out and be present 24x7 for the customers.” Abhimanyu Lal, Head-Category Management, eBay India, adds, “There are 90 million users across the world, who can be potential clients for those targeting a global clientele. One can move ahead keeping in mind the laws of the land.”
Once a brand is online, it strives towards driving traffic to the portal, increasing reach, extending product portfolios, offering attractive deals, etc. Increasing the reach of the brand online, however, calls for extensive work. Asking experts is always the best thing to do. If you feel you don’t have the expertise or that you would not be able to handle technicalities involved
in overseas transactions, hire the experts. There are third party vendors that specialise in carrying out activities like international shipping, country specific labelling, handling custom issues, etc. They will help you to spell success in a better way. The call on roping in a third party player is relative to every brand. Gadia says, “Depending on the scale of operations today, there are specialised players available to provide these services. Taking a decision on this depends on
the volume and cost effectiveness.”
The primary concern when going e-global will be – would there be enough traffic to drive sales overseas? Increasing traffic to the portal is something that needs to be worked upon even to generate inland sales. However, when we talk of bringing people from different countries to buy from an Indian portal, it calls for spreading the word right. Gadia suggests, “Advertising on geography specific locations, where you can promote your brand through Google and print ads; creating awareness of your brand and products; and thereafter good product and timely delivery will ensure spread of your brand awareness.”
Attracting the eye of a nation with over 1.2 billion people from different walks of life gives retailers an edge to cater to the needs of the global audience. If you wish to play safe, start with one country at a time and then spread your wings farther. Commenting on the same, Arun Sirdeshmukh, Co-Founder & CEO, Fashionara.com, says, “Prioritising is the answer to moving overseas swiftly. The concept of ‘Market by market’ should be adopted. Also, identification of the target consumer and further devising targeted marketing strategies will aid in the realisation of this dream.”
For existing players, the game is easier as they have already tasted the waters and would have a greater edge as compared to the new players. Daily hassles as well as transaction related issues would not be new to them. Conversely, there can be some obstructions for existing players as well in terms of constrained technological processes. Sirdeshmukh says, “The game can be dicey for existing players in terms of constraints in processes built for domestic operations, which might not align internationally. On the other hand, new players can wire their back end accordingly. Nonetheless, existing players have hands-on experience of execution, which can prove valuable.” Adding to the same, Lal says, "The acceptance of the brand becomes higher with an international recognition and with people having some awareness about the brand."
Localisation is the key word for determining success at an offshore location or a new locality. The same rule is applicable here as well. Brands need to cater to this facet while squeezing out their benefit from the same. Ferns n Petals offers services almost across the globe. Pointing out what works in their favour, Gadia says, “Customers abroad normally have a bigger ticket value they can afford, thus we offer bigger value products for overseas customers.”
Trade barriers, country exclusive restrictions, forbidden goods, customs concerns, etc are some key issues that will come in your pathway to growth. Sirdeshmukh adds, “There can be a serious hassle pertaining to infringement of brands, especially for a multi brand e-retailer, wherein he may not have the right to sell a particular brand at some international location as someone else may have the selling rights.” These are little hiccups that can be dealt with and, in return, will give you a better understanding of the trade.
At the customer end
Convenience is what customers look for while shopping online. For overseas customers, the website should be made available in local languages. The biggest roadblock that can spoil the shopping experience for a customer is currency conversion for the price of a product, so make sure to either have a currency converter or have precise pricing for every country. The collection available online should also cater to a global audience to drive sales because that will be a booster for sales once a customer lands on a website.
Pricing will be a serious concern for customers overseas. The price for a product will shoot up once it crosses the Indian borders and makes way into another country. Shipping costs, import and export duties all add up to the price tag amplifying the cost in some cases to over 200 per cent of the original price. For some, it may not be a concern as the same product may cost about as much in their currency.
Going e-global can give your brand greater visibility and recognition. Taking brick and mortar stores to foreign locations demands greater efforts than taking it global in the virtual world. If done right keeping in mind all the potholes, it can work wonders for your business, thus helping you pocket greater revenues.