Our partners at Volo Commerce offer online sellers advice on selling in the US.
The US eCommerce market is vast. In 2015, 57.4% of the US public shopped online compared to 46.7% in Europe. Online sales have grown from $306.85 bn [£189.26] in 2014 to $398.78 bn [£245.96 bn] in 2016. The opportunity is there, but it doesn’t come without barriers. Below are 5 hurdles you’ll encounter when making the move to selling in the US…
Set realistic expectations
You shouldn’t expect your US sales to replicate your UK ones as you may not be competitive on the same lines. But you may find niches you didn’t expect or foresee so flexibility and scalability are critical. Without doubt, you’ll more form a wider customer base, but make sure you set realistic expectations.
Look at local laws
Apart from the usual business practices (sales forecasting, A/B testing, Brand building, reporting and analysis, best practises, etc), the main stumbling block when selling into the US, is missing your Tax bracket and VAT registration. The main way to remedy this is to make sure you track sales per region and know thresholds (and the next steps) for when you reach them. You might also need to check specific local laws and whether there are any products that cannot be sold in certain states (like firearms, e-cigarettes and contact lenses).
Make small changes to your website
There are many small, but important changes you can make on your website to make the US customer experience more appealing. Showing exchange rates and giving prices in both sterling and dollars will help with quicker sales. As well as currency conversion, translating text can also be useful. Although most people in the US speak English, Americanizing text on stores makes a better buyer experience. Translation software providers and currency conversion companies like World First are at hand to offer any help needed.
Fulfilment – using Amazon FBA
A great fulfilment process should sit high on the priority list of retailers wanting to sell into the US (especially if they don’t have a ‘base’ there). Best practice works in much the same way as if you were selling at home. If you are using FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), then fast moving products should be prioritised and shouldn’t be kept in storage (otherwise you’ll be charged fees).
Shipping and delivery partners
In terms of shipping and delivery to the US, finding a good shipping partner who’s able to keep a seller’s shipping costs lower (and their customers) is key to a good international selling strategy. You’ll need to be able to get goods to customers reliably, and at a reasonable cost. You also need to be able to process returns easily. Customers want hassle free returns and many who have bought cross border in the past have been stung by expensive returns shipping costs, meaning they show preference for national retailers. Providing a seamless and efficient returns process is key to getting ahead of the (local) game.
At Volo Commerce we believe in success without borders, so we’re here to help when it comes to international selling. If you’d like to learn more please visit our website or call us on 0203 856 1999.