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International ecommerce

More and more companies in Scotland are selling online to international markets as a key element of their export plan. In 2023, around 2.64 billion people buy products and services online — almost a third of the world's population.

Doing business abroad doesn’t mean you have to set up operations in-market. If your sales are doing well in the UK, then it’s a no-brainer to get set up to grow your international sales quickly online, whether you’re a product or service-led business. It’ll save you time and money.

What’s more, recent disruptions have led many companies across Scotland to start or accelerate their use of ecommerce platforms to reach new and existing customers. Ecommerce is a vital tool in Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic and the development of its future trading relationships with the EU and beyond. 

We’re here to offer you support if you want to start selling to international markets online. 

There are several things you can do to prepare.

Preparing for international ecommerce

Your website and online capabilities

  • Ensure your website is set up to engage with your target audience and that transactions can be made digitally
  • Ensure you have the capacity and stock in place to undertake online sales effectively to meet demand
  • Look to translate your website into the target market language or, if this is too expensive or you don’t have language skills in-house, translate a simple landing page and keywords into the appropriate language
  • Look to register a domain name in the target language – for example, .de for the German market and .fr for the French market
  • Consider local currency price points on your website, but make sure these prices match and don’t undercut the prices your export partner may be selling your goods or services at in market
  • Ensure your website and any accompanying social media activity complies with local laws for online sales and data protection, and you have the terms and conditions of sale clearly stated on your website, including your delivery terms and any refunds policy.

Your marketing and customer base

  • The next stage is to build your customer base online. Your website address should be on your business card and any marketing or point of sale material you have in place for your target market.
  • Using social media can be a very effective way of creating brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. It also allows you to engage with your customers and get immediate feedback on your product or service. Do your research into social media channels/usage for your target market and develop a social media strategy to support your marketing efforts.
  • Alongside more traditional forms of social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you might also consider using market influencers or bloggers in your target market to endorse your product or service.

Technical and practical development

  • Have a plan for selling online into your target market – we can help you with this
  • Ideally ensure your prices are converted to the local currency on your website
  • Be clear about postage and packing terms, delivery times and insurance on your website
  • Ensure you are compliant with distance selling legislation on the GOV.UK website opens in a new window
  • Consider putting in place a trustmark or accreditation on your website to help encourage and reassure online customers
  • Research social media channels/usage in your target market and have a social media strategy to support your marketing plan

How we can support your business

  • International ecommerce programme

    There’s never been a better time to sell online.

    Our international ecommerce programme offers focused, action-based support to help you develop an online strategy and prepare to sell in new markets.

  • Online marketplace guides

    Selling via online marketplaces gives you a simple, but effective shop window in countries and regions you may never have thought you could reach.

    Our marketplace guides contain registration information and pricing for over 60 marketplaces around the world, including Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

  • Ecommerce events, webinars and masterclasses

    Free insight, training and tips from our network of experts and those who have been there and done it.

    Our regular workshops and training sessions are designed to help businesses make the most out of the many ecommerce opportunities available.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to talk with one of our advisers, we're always ready to help.