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Take advantage of ecommerce opportunities and develop the right skills and knowledge to expand your international reach.

Looking to expand your ecommerce business into the overseas market? For practical advice, solutions and support, come along to one of our introduction to ecommerce workshops taking place around Scotland.

Kristell Clunie from the trade and investment team of Scottish Development International (SDI) – the international arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies – outlines the benefits of attending.

Benefits of ecommerce

  • Raise brand awareness and recognition
  • Gain a presence nationwide, across Europe or globally, enabling you to reach customers who would not otherwise know about your products and services
  • Achieve competitive advantage
  • Grow sales and build traction in markets, particularly for industries which have been slow to uptake ecommerce to date 
  • Test the water without major investment
  • Operate your business around-the-clock
  • Achieve a quick return on investment
  • Avoid third party mark-ups/costs
  • Maintain direct control over your marketing
  • Improve customer service by analysing online customer behaviour and ecommerce data
  • Retain existing customers

Boost your ecommerce skills

So, what can you expect from an introduction to ecommerce workshop?

Learn from our expert trainers in the field of online business for the overseas market. We start off with an overview of how international ecommerce works, to give you broad understanding – looking at things like, which countries use which search engines, which use the web the most, which shop online the most, and so on.

Best practice guidance

You need a specific strategy for targeting overseas markets – even ecommerce companies who are doing well in the UK need help with this – and this is what we cover in these workshops, starting with the practical considerations. 

For example, there's the question of translation. If everything in your site is in English it won't get very high up the rankings in the international versions of Google.

However, it may not be economically viable, or worthwhile, to translate the entire site. Sometimes just translating keywords is a better strategy – these will still be picked up by non-English language search engines. 

There is also the risk that if the site is entirely translated, customers will most likely expect the people at the other end of the phone to be fluent in the language used. Smaller companies do need to stay realistic and avoid raising expectations too high.

Selecting your markets

Learn how your company should go about selecting international markets – the strategy we recommend is focusing on one market initially, putting all your efforts into that, and then once you have that going well, move on to the next. 

Technically, yes, once your site is online it is up there for the whole world to see, but in reality this is not the case – people don't really see it unless it has been targeted to them, by managing to get it a decent place in the rankings in foreign versions of search engines. 

We can help your company look at which factors should influence your decision on where to start – the place with the highest demand for your product is usually the best starting point.

Culture and language considerations

Explore the cultural aspects of what your business should be doing when looking to move into overseas markets. For example, when targeting the US market, there is less to alter - a few small tweaks of language is usually enough. 

For example, a company which selling shortbread and other biscuits will need to change the name to “cookies”, or at least add it in as a keyword, as those searching for biscuits in the US are looking for something else entirely. 

Similarly, when corresponding with customers, for example about shipping times, the word “fortnight” will not mean anything to US customers.

When it comes to expanding to the Chinese market, as another example, companies need to be aware that China uses different search engines, not Google, and the results displayed by them are checked by the Chinese government for anything disrespectful or offensive. 

There is design and content considerations for selling to the Chinese market too – incorporating red could be a good idea, as it's considered lucky there.

Another consideration with China is that of copies and fakes. Some companies who have attended our workshops have refused to ship products to certain Chinese buyers, as research has indicated they will almost certainly be used to make replicas.

Learn from others

This is another benefit of attending the workshops – the chance to learn from other business owners who have experience of branching into overseas markets. The workshops are very collaborative forums, where companies will talk about pitfalls they've experienced, and what has worked for them in overcoming them. 

People tend to be very open, even about problems they've had, and really are keen to learn from each other, despite the fact that they are effectively each other's competition. In a market as small as Scotland, the chances are they will already all know each other anyway.

Who should attend?

These workshops are open to all, but are primarily targeted at beginners and newcomers to international business – perhaps small to medium-sized companies which are already thriving in the UK market, or individuals who have just joined a larger operation and need to get up to speed. 

The workshops are suitable for all sectors, although if there is demand, we're happy to run subsequent sector-specific workshops. The workshops are also about making you aware of who Scottish Enterprise is and what we can do for you, most of which is free of charge.

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