Selling Online: how to start and grow

Get set for a borderless future

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With Asia proving a booming market for Australian products, local businesses have the chance to expand with a great online strategy

As SMEs get savvy with online retail, they need to think without borders. No longer are customers, staff or suppliers around the corner – they could be all over the world.

South East Asia is proving a developing market for Australian small businesses, as Frank Granziera, of Olive Oil Skin Care Co has experienced. The Olive Oil Skin Care Co launched in 2012, with its online store offering a range of soaps, body washes, candles and balms.

“We find that [international customers] buy our products at local stores [when visiting Australia] and when they go back overseas, they keep in contact through our website,” Granziera says.

“When we started, we were getting enquiries once a month. But now it’s two or three a day, asking us to send our products overseas.”

Sell with strategy

Selling products to international visitors is one thing – but making major inroads into a new market is another. If you’re looking at expanding into the South East Asian market, you need to have the right connections and platform to sell your products on, says Granziera.

“The most important thing with South East Asia is that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” Granziera says.

“There are some great trade seminars about selling in South East Asia,” he says. “Go to them and make connections.”

He says it helps to understand all the touch points in the selling process.

“It’s important to network with people across all facets of the process – from suppliers, to distributors to agents – you have to do the whole lot.”

Opportunity abounds

China in particular represents an amazing opportunity for Australian companies to expand, explains Granziera. But with such a huge population, you need to identify your target audience.

“When you segment the market by age categories and requirements it’s staggering,” says Granziera.

“For example, we’re launching a baby range shortly and our figures show that in China there are [approximately] 16 million babies born every year. Our product is designed for children under the age of five, so at any one time we have a potential audience in China of 80 million people.”

Delivery to count on

Granziera says Australia’s reputation for quality and reliability is a boon to small businesses seeking to sell their products internationally.

“There is a tendency overseas to view Australia as a reliable country in every aspect – politically stable, with reliable products and pollution free – and you need a website that helps to project that image.”

Having a delivery partner to support this process is of paramount importance.

“You could spend millions of dollars trying to find the right segmentation, but you need to find the right partner to get it there,” he says.

This means an efficient website for selling, and prompt, transparent delivery operations.

“It’s the interface between you and the client, and you need to have reliable and informative system in place.”

Tracking door to door

Granziera is impressed with the sophistication of logistics now available to online retailers.

“We sent a product to Taiwan yesterday and we know through our tracking system exactly where it is in the process. That information is transmitted to the customer, and they can track it from the moment it leaves the warehouse, to when it’s on board an aeroplane, to when it’s on the way to their door.”

Granziera says his company have taken advantage of their partnership with Australia Post to gain exposure in South East Asian markets, while the reliability of the delivery service has helped foster repeat customers.

“We’ve been very fortunate with our partnerships in South East Asia and, in particular, with (Chinese online marketplace) Tmall and Australia Post,” he says.

“People have already moved the waters to help Australian businesses crack foreign markets – so take advantage of that.”

Australia Post can help you go global by reaching international markets and even setting up an online shop front in China. Find out more on Australia Post’s Small Business site.

Written by: Jacob Robinson

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