“All the world’s a stage,” Shakespeare wrote. But will your online business take a leading role or remain a forgotten spear-carrier at the back?
My love affair with Amazon waxes and wanes with the tides of world currency markets. Dollar goes up, lots of packages arrive on my desk. Dollar goes down, I start price-checking with local stores.
At the moment, I should get some kind of Amazon gold card for the number of cardboard packages causing backache for posties in Sydney. As I write this, the dollar is worth just under 57 pence and I can grab hardback editions for less than the paperback retails for locally and Blu-ray discs for almost half the usual price – and that’s with the shipping.
Why should more businesses start thinking global? Because the internet has created greater competition between international markets. Some websites capitalize on this and cultivate a strong presence in those territories
where their offer is more competitive. In fact, some businesses can make international competitiveness a virtue, central to their business model.
For example, I have a lot of families back home in the Old Dart. A few years ago, Christmas was made doubly expensive by having to ship heavy parcels halfway around the world. Now, like many of you, I’m sure, I merely log on to UK online retailers, pay a little extra for wrapping and tagging and ship them ten miles instead of ten thousand.
Some Aussie SMEs tell me the reverse is also true. Before Christmas, they see a spike in sales from overseas customers looking to locally deliver presents. Yet, so few businesses market this highly convenient aspect of their website or provide the necessary wrapping service to enable it.
The international market has pros and cons. Local convenience is a pro, high dollar is a con. Understanding these different motivations can help you target your marketing and develop more pros within your product offerings. When the dollar is high it’s harder to compete on price with international rivals so you might want to focus on the convenience of free or faster local delivery, unique specialization, or the economic benefits of ‘buying Australian’. If you sell books, you’ll never attract customers away from Amazon by marketing on price, and many other popular consumer goods have the same problem with other e-commerce Goliaths. Being the cheapest stockist in Australia means far less when the internet has no borders.
Alternatively, instead of focusing your entire marketing budget on Australia, why not see if a campaign in certain international markets, focused on their unique motivations, might generate a different response? Develop a Google AdWords campaign targeting UK pressie buying in December, perhaps. Or how about tweaking your online hat store’s SEO to appear in US searches for those ex-pats desperate for an Akubra?
Australia has always complained about geography keeping us from the rest of the world. That excuse no longer works, but we need to understand the different trends in the world market if we truly want to succeed in it.