[copperpress-advertserve-ad zone="3"]
 December 3, 1999

Attention to detail critical in global Web strategy

According to the IMEX Exchange president, foreign hits to U.S. Web sites number 30 to 40 percent. But only 10 to 15 percent of foreign browsers buy, and 46 percent of international order requests are not filled.

Indeed, there is more to international e-commerce success than launching a product or service into cyberspace. Creating a global Web site is key.

“Whether a company’s e-commerce strategy is to attract foreign customers or not, it must keep in mind that its Web site is visible to the world. Why drive business away?” says Bernie Weiss, president of Business Development International in San Diego, Calif.

At an international e-commerce seminar sponsored by U S West at the World Trade Center in October, Weiss presented ways companies can attract foreign buyers on the Internet.

“Don’t put up a Web site just because everyone is doing it. There needs to be an objective such as to increase sales or product awareness,” Weiss says.

And a market focus.

Internet resources, such as the National Trade Data Bank and Strategis-Canadian trade site, can help companies identify their top 10 export markets and zero in on a target country or region.

Attention to detail can turn a Web site into an international marketing tool. Provide a direct dial phone number by using an international format that includes both country and area codes; specify service hours in both 12 and 24-hour time and include the time zone; spell out dates; include metric weights and measurements in addition to U.S. conventions; offer payment options; and format the order form for an international address.

To avoid credit card fraud, Weiss advises purchasing risk detection software.

“Companies should add international savvy to their Internet strategies,” says Rachel Bloombaum, managing director of Boulder-based Pangaea International Marketing.

A U.S. price list on a Web page could cause problems when selling to foreign firms. Before putting a page on a search engine, or connecting to links, check out what is most popular with users in your target country, she adds.

Founded in 1999, Pangaea helps small and medium-sized businesses research, initiate or expand international activities. Bloombaum’s background includes 10 years as a senior trade specialist for the Colorado International Trade Office where she helped companies explore and expand business in Europe, Canada and Australia.

Can business relationships be built over the Internet?

“Relationships are much more important internationally than in the U.S. In some ways the Internet facilitates these relationships because it breaks down time and geography. Maybe the one-to-one idea of dealing direct with the customer could take the place of the face-to-face relationship. But the dehumanizing factor of the Internet does concern me,” Bloombaum says.

Databases listing customer preferences could be one way to initiate and maintain relationships.

“Customer service is possible without direct human intervention, but with personalized human contact. For example, I could give my name, e-mail address, and particular clothing interest, such as Polo shirts, to a Boulder clothing store that could notify me when the shirts come in,” Weiss explains.

Companies selling over the Internet should be aware of legal issues.

“Once you enter the Internet world, you must realize that your company becomes subject to the laws and jurisdictions of all the people that it reaches out to,” says Dave Stephenson, an intellectual property and licensing attorney with Enichen & Stephenson LLC in Boulder.

A company could be liable, for example, for non-delivery of a product promised in an informal e-mail. Competing with a firm having a similar name or logo also could have legal ramifications.

Stephenson plans to have a Web page with an international focus on the Martin Dale Hubbell attorney directory site after that firm completes negotiations with America Online.

“The Internet has a lot of marketing advantages. You can reach out to a wider audience, use at any time of the day, and exchange information that can be interactive,” Stephenson says.

??

According to the IMEX Exchange president, foreign hits to U.S. Web sites number 30 to 40 percent. But only 10 to 15 percent of foreign browsers buy, and 46 percent of international order requests are not filled.

Indeed, there is more to international e-commerce success than launching a product or service into cyberspace. Creating a global Web site is key.

“Whether a company’s e-commerce strategy is to attract foreign customers or not, it must keep in mind that its Web site is visible to the world. Why drive business away?” says Bernie Weiss, president of Business Development International in San Diego, Calif.

At…

[copperpress-advertserve-ad zone="3"]

Related Content