Not only big companies are thinking about selling abroad, small and medium sized companies can expand their business too. In fact, there is no other possible way as promising as online!
Especially the European countries are the first destination for Greek companies to offer their products. This is true for selling to customers, called B2C (Business to Consumer) as well as selling to companies, called B2B (Business to Business).
Lets review some facts, first the positive ones:
- The market in almost any country in the EU is much bigger than the Greek market
- The brand “Greece” is positively known because of the millions of tourists that visit Greece every year
- Many thousand Greeks, who left Greece to look for better working conditions in the EU are missing their home products
- Within the EU, free flow of goods and services are guaranteed, without additional taxes
- To sell abroad now, is much easier & cheaper than it used to be, because of the online possibilities
The negative facts:
- Because of the crisis, the image of Greece has suffered, this will also affect the trust to Greek companies abroad
- The Greek online market is not nearly as developed as foreign markets, the specific Greek online knowledge is not so developed
- The markets and the customers abroad are much more demanding and the competition is much higher than in Greece
- Each country in the EU needs a specific approach, “one size fits all” does not apply
- The paying and shipping options differ from country to country
In this first part, we are going to put some light on the aspects of payment and shipping in cross border commerce for Greek companies aspiring to sell abroad.
Payment is always an issue in E-Commerce. On the one side there are the costs that payment service providers ask, usually between 1% and 3% of the revenue and also the costs of integration into the webshop, which need time and knowledge to do. Generally, it is always a good idea to offer more than one payment method for the customer to choose. Paypal has proven to be one of the most universal payment methods, so it can be used for almost any EU market. But then, many countries have their own preferred payment method.
Some examples: UK customers prefer to pay by Credit Card, in the Netherlands the most popular payment method is iDeal (direct payment through their bank). In France don´t even consider selling without having Carte Bleu payment, the Swedish want to use Klarna and the Germans like to have pay by invoice and a direct debit provider.
The best solution: Use an international Payment Service Provider that offers these options.
The other difference is the shipping method, again, there are big differences from country to country. In Sweden, customers are used to pick their goods up in a delivery station while in France this is almost unknown and customers want to get their goods delivered. And not all delivery companies have the necessary housecodes to enter the houses. While in Germany, it is usual to have the package delivered to a neighbor who will contact you.
Also, the shipping costs vary greatly depending if you send a letter or a package, so the question is, until what size is a small package considered to be a letter (lower transport costs) in your target country? Generally, you should do a research about which delivery service cost how much for your destination and choose accordingly.
It is of greatest importance to inform yourself about the necessary payment methods and shipping carriers for your target country. Don´t believe that what works in Greece also works abroad. You might have the prefect product, but if the customer cannot pay or get his good delivered the right way, he will not become your customer.
The next post in the “sell abroad online” series will be about how to present your products (or services) abroad.