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Export in an online world

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There has been a lot of press regarding the impact of Australians purchasing online, particularly from overseas suppliers, and the erosion of the market for our local retailers. Many of those retailers are now recognising the change in buying habits is permanent and are getting on the bandwagon. This acceptance of online sales has positive implications for sectors of the Australian market with a product that suits an international consumer market.  The costs of transport to main destinations abroad by parcel can be reasonably standardised; and after also ensuring payment is made up-front, and the entry documents (where required) meet the overseas customs requirements, it can be an exciting and lucrative addition to the domestic consumer market. Of course 1) getting found by an overseas buyer and 2) capturing their interest so that they want to buy, are two key steps that precede the sale.  This involves refining the website so that it receives a high ranking on the main search engines, and for Google, perhaps paying for positioning.  Then, having been found, you have a very short time span to capture the attention, interest and desire of a potential buyer once they land on your site. Structuring a website for domestic and overseas visitors requires some finessing.  Some companies set up separate sites in major markets so that they are perceived as a ‘local’ supplier.  Another check point is ensuring your IP is protected in your key target markets, and equally that you are not infringing someone else’s IP already registered in that market. You need to succinctly outline your USP....why would someone in say Tokyo buy from you? Having text in Japanese may be a good start. Then outlining the originality/quality/uniqueness of your product in values a Japanese consumer would appreciate. Finally clear pricing and a simple delivery process will be the things that clinch the deal.  Many suppliers include delivery in their pricing, or if not, set out standard costs per region so the buyer knows exactly what they are up for.  Are there guarantees for delivery, returns, exchange (for clothing sizes) etc that take the risk away for the buyer? There are some very successful Australian suppliers currently doing very well selling to the global consumer market.  To do it properly though requires focus:  monitoring hits, responding to questions and refreshing information so it is always current.  Your website does become the shop front for your business, open to the world 24/7. So for all businesses with a consumer focus, you need to actively consider the potential overseas customer. 2012 might be the time to start, or your competitors could be taking your market!

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