Tips for Small Business Success: Setting Up an E-Commerce Website to Sell Internationally

One of the key features of the Internet is that it opens up a world wide market for buying and selling. This means that with very little in the way of extra effort, a company can reach a massive market place that at one time would have been almost impossible with out significant time spent in travel and planning.

Planning an E-Commerce Website to Reach International Customers

While this is a great opportunity for small companies and individuals to enter the world wide market, there are some key elements that often get overlooked. Selling internationally is not simply a case of setting up an ecommerce website and sitting back and waiting for the orders to come rolling in. There are some important pieces of planning and preparation that need to take place first. This is as applicable to the company selling high end and high value products as it is to an individual looking to make a few dollars by selling handmade items through a small ecommerce site. Getting the foundations right will help to build a good, sound international business.

Reduce Any Barriers to Purchase

Anything that makes the purchase decision complicated or protracted is putting a barrier in front of the potential customer. In addition to sorting out obvious features such as whether or how to take international payments, there are some other key aspects of setting up an ecommerce web site to sell internationally.

Language

Even if the target customer base is solely English speaking, understanding language differences is an important part of the planning process. It is important that the website is clear and concise with any product descriptions and that there is no room for any misunderstandings. The saying, ‘divided by a common language’, is as relevant today as it has always been . Many countries outside of the US call ´Diapers‘ by the name ‘Nappies‘. A website selling baby products would need to know this so international visitors to the site could find what they require quickly. This is also important for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes to ensure that the website is actually found by prospective international customers.

Measurements

Many countries use different measurements values and as such providing decimal or imperial equivalent measurements will be a service to prospective customers. While it is tempting to think that a customer can easily find out the information themselves, when building a successful international ecommerce website it is important to make it as easy as possible for the customer. At the very least, when building the website a conversion feature should be included so the customer can make their own conversions.

Delivery

Unless it is absolutely necessary, telling a customer to ’email for a delivery cost’ should be avoided. Not only does this mean that the customer may go elsewhere while they are waiting for an answer, it also means that somebody needs to be on hand to give an answer. Many products are a standard weight and giving a delivery options and costs is a significant benefit to international customers.

Advantages of Having a Small Business Brochure

Every small business should have a brochure. The brochure helps your small business to become better known in the market place. It helps the customer get a detailed account of your company or service. Brochures are not just for large corporations, but for small businesses and consultants also.

Here are some advantages of having a brochure.

A Brochure Gives Credibility to a Small Business.

The brochure lets prospects know that your small business is reputable and that they can take you seriously. Your company is here and ready to compete. “Anyone can spend $50 on letterhead and business cards and call themselves a corporation. But a brochure proves you are in business and shows you’re more than a fly-by-night operation,” according to Mr. Bly’s book titled, The Copywriter’s Handbook.

 The Brochure Tells

This is the perfect way to tell the customer everything in detail about your small business. This may sound obvious but there are many small business brochures that I have read that are merely just a long list of items, giving no details about the company, the service, or how it works. According to Ms. Maas’s book, Better Brochures, Catalogs and Mailing Pieces, “Tell customers what is included, what are the costs, what are the hours. Graphic devices can help to spotlight important information.”

A Brochure Can Help to Sell Your Business

A small business brochure can help to sell your business and make a big difference, when prospects ask for more information. Customers want to read about your business or product, especially if they are about to spend a lot of money. They want to make sure they are making the right decision.

The Brochure Can Support Your Advertisement

It can be used along with direct mail; after the sales letter the prospect wants more information. The brochure is another sales tool. The brochure is designed to fit into a standard envelope and can be mailed along with the sales letter. It provides information about your sales points, list features and contains photos about your product or service. They are used by salespeople to leave behind after a presentation. Brochures are great to take along when networking.

Keep in mind that people will read the brochure as long as it informs and positions your product or service as the solution. The brochure for your small business is a great way to give your customers enough information about your product or service.

Small Business Continuity Disaster Recovery Plan Templates

A small business disaster can take many forms. Natural events, such as a fire or flood, can wipe out all equipment, while a virus or theft can result in data loss or other problems. Planning ahead with a disaster recovery plan template helps small business owners maintain continuity in any emergency.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

For business continuity, disaster recovery planning is critical. With this disaster recovery plan template from IBM, businesses can make sure that all of the most important aspects of a data recovery plan are implemented before disaster strikes.

  • Data Recovery Personnel Lists – For emergency data recovery, maintain a list of data processing personnel. The list should contain names, positions and contact information, to allow administrators to call in critical personnel in the event of a disaster.
  • Emergency Data Recovery from Critical Applications – Maintain a list of applications and software that run on company computers, and the level of importance of each type of software.
  • Computer Hardware Inventory – This list should contain a full list of of all computer hardware on-hand. This list allows business owners to quickly replace equipment after a total loss or determine the value of losses for insurance purposes.

Backup for Disaster Recovery

Backup all software programs regularly to ensure a timely disaster recovery process. It may seem tempting to backup files, then secure the backups in a filing cabinet or in a desk drawer, but this does not protect the files in the event of a natural disaster. All company files should be stored both locally and remotely, to facilitate a swift restoral of business.

Physical backup medium, such as a data CD or a thumb drive are adequate for small backups. Online backup services can also provide a safe and reliable place to store business data.

Small Business Disaster Recovery Plan

After filling out the small business disaster recovery plan template, a business owner will have a comprehensive list of software and hardware, lists of emergency contacts and action plans, and a clear idea of the best and fastest way to restore operations after a disaster. Perform tests of the disaster recovery plan at least quarterly, and update the plan information whenever there is a change in personnel, software or hardware. The use of a detailed and thoroughly researched plan for recovery after a disaster or emergency is essential to the swift restoral of business services.