6 Tips for Expanding into the European E-Commerce Market
Expanding into the European market can be a great way to increase your e-commerce business’s revenue. By pursuing markets outside of North America, you are mitigating potential risk through diversification of your market presence. Entering markets where there may be less competition than in the saturated United States e-commerce ecosystem is another great benefit.
There are many advantages to branching out into Europe but there are also some issues that you will have to be aware of when doing business overseas. Europe is not a homogeneous place when it comes to business and setting up an e-commerce presence will require you to be mindful of the differences with the U.S. but also between the European countries themselves. Fortunately, the benefits of expanding into Europe far outweigh any hurdles you will have to overcome.
1. Assess Opportunities
Before embarking on your journey of expansion into European markets, you will have to make sure that your products will have enough of a demand to make your presence sustainable. In past decades when companies wanted to enter overseas markets, a sizable piece of their budget for the project entailed doing marketing research in the target country. With the plethora of online tools and strategies available to businesses, research is less costly and can be done primarily from your home office.
Doing SEO keyword research and looking into competitors with similar products can give you enough of an idea as to whether or not you should move forward. Here is a list of research topics that will play a role in determining the viability of an expansion into Europe.
Location and Demographic-Related Analysis
- Age, education level and income of target market
- Cultural factors that may affect your brand
- Consumer habits
Keyword and Website Analysis
- Searches done for relevant keywords
- Top buyer intent keywords
- Competitiveness of keywords
- Where competitors’ websites rank
- Penetration and market share of competition
2. Work Around Language Barriers
The UK is the biggest European market for your e-commerce services but countries like France and Germany are close behind and provide a great opportunity for American e-commerce companies. In the case that you decide to enter a non-English speaking market, being able to get around the language barrier is very important.
If you do not speak the language of the country you want to do business in, it is wise to hire a reputable translation service. Another option is to work with a local SEO or e-commerce consultant that will be able to provide seamless communication for you.
3. Hire a Knowledgeable Accountant
Despite the European Union providing a greater framework within which countries can do business, accounting regulations vary between nations. To avoid making decisions that can prove costly due to accounting standards, hire an accountant that is knowledgeable in the local accounting practices.
You can also consult with them in your initial research to determine whether conducting e-commerce in that country will be profitable for your business.
4. Have a Competent Lawyer on Retainer
Another important area where differences between countries can affect your business’s bottom line is legal framework. Having a good lawyer that is well-versed in business law for that part of the world can alleviate a lot of stress when expanding your e-commerce business in Europe.
5. Hire the Right Consultants
Being successful as an e-commerce business will require you to achieve a high search engine ranking for your products and your brand. Just as there are differences in accounting practices and legislation, you will find that getting your e-commerce website ranked may be best left to an experienced local SEO agency.
For a business that is operating in a country but is based overseas, having sales come in as soon as possible is essential for making your presence viable. If you are expanding into a large European market such as France, you will want to hire a French SEO company like SmartWeb that will be able to get you ranked in the top results in the shortest time possible.
6. Be Wary of Tariffs and Trade Wars
A concern that has been increasingly important for businesses to consider in recent years is that of tariffs and the ensuing trade wars that result from them. If you will be doing business in a country that is a close ally to the United States, this becomes less of a concern.
However, it is always a good idea to stay up-to-date with relations between the U.S. and the country in which you will be doing business. This is especially relevant for businesses that will be importing any of their products from places such as China.
The European e-commerce market presents a great opportunity for companies that are looking to enter unsaturated markets and develop an international presence for their brand. With some focused research and the proper consultants by your side, you can boost your sales while reducing your reliance on a single economy.