The importance of a web strategy for SME’s online commerce in foreign markets

Xsolla Founder and CEO Aleksandr Agapitov

Web communication and in particular Online Shopping can help SMEs to approach international markets, in a faster and cheaper way.

#DigitalTalk with Alexander Agapitov, CEO of Xsolla

Gabriele: “SMEs internationalization is a delicate process that needs budget and time. What we call “Digital Disruption” is changing the way companies do business, as well as they can communicate with their customers all over the world. Web Marketing is leading the way to a new era where companies stop advertising to (re)start communicating. E-commerce is one of the channels companies can use to communicate and sell on Internet. Online Shopping can be a great opportunity to start or evolve a business outside the domestic market, giving to SMEs the possibility to approach now countries with a portion of the costs of a traditional internationalization process. This doesn’t mean it will be easy.”

Alexander: “To succeed in foreign markets, SMEs must break down language barriers. Sometimes tedious and costly localization efforts must be tackled to deliver quality translations. Second-language oddities can often be dismissed as unprofessional by discerning locals. In addition to conveying meaning, savvy enterprises must also identify regional product preference and prejudice (don’t sell ice to an Icelander) while juggling the logistics behind locally warehousing and distributing physical goods to mitigate international shipping issues and cost. Once a product is priced to compete in local markets against targeted competitors — another undertaking — sales can be generated. So, not easy, no. For an internationally minded Digital Disruptor, challenges abound. And just when an entrepreneur thinks it well in-hand, there comes the complexity of actually accepting payment.”

Gabriele: “And here it comes the complexity of payment procedures. This is an issue a lot of companies don’t take seriously. Find the right payment methods is one of the challenges for online shopping, even in the domestic market. When we talk about international markets, this challenge can lead to tremendous headaches. This is a strategic decision to make as important as choosing the right products or the right pricing.”

Alexander: ”Despite being an essential part of international commerce, even professionals can be overwhelmed by the complexities inherent with accepting payments across national boundaries. Understanding regional preference is the first step toward demystifying and mastering payment. To convert customers and generate sales, SMEs need to appreciate local paying preferences. For example, while credit cards and PayPal cover most American transactions, China is dominated by Alipay, Tenpay and Union Pay, whereas European customers prefer inter-bank transfers such as Sofort and iDEAL, while Russian e-commerce moves through Qiwi and Yandex. Accepting a wide spectrum of local payment methods often requires SMEs to have a local presence (in the form of a legal entity) and also complicates payment vendor management and reconciliation. Regulations, tax legislation and currency conversion add yet another layer of complexity. Thus, it’s often recommended that SMEs work with, and defer responsibility to, a payment partner with applicable local experience.”

Gabriele: ”As said, web communication and in particular Online Shopping can help SMEs to approach international markets, in a faster and cheaper way. This doesn’t mean companies can drop the traditional steps of internationalization. Talking about Online Shopping, in some countries is mandatory to have a local presence, like in Russia for example. In general, a local presence can still lead to necessary benefits such as the possibility to provide local payment methods. I strongly believe that web communication is a great opportunity to shorten the cultural distance between two different countries with small investments. Otherwise is still important to have people on the territory, because people can talk to people, and make business with people. This is a human attitude that will never change. Social Media, in particular, can help to start this process even if the physical distance is huge.”


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Defined by Going Global UK: "LEADING EXPERT IN INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES". Coordinator of the Networking Club of Philip Kotler at the Italian Marketing Foundation. The only Italian who accomplished the MIT Digital Business Strategy Executive Program about Digital Transformation (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Co-founder of Weevo, co-publisher of Il Giornale delle PMI, author of "Strategie web per i mercati esteri", Hoepli 2016 (Digital Strategies for International Markets).

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