US wholesale inventories rose in July

Charlie Taylor

This is how Facebook can help you expand your business to new markets E-commerce has increased dramatically in the past year and for Sweden it has become a significant export income. The advantage of investing globally is obvious: the customer base is multiplied, but there are downsides in the form of increased competition, high development costs and a greater risk of setbacks in everything from local laws to customs and logistics problems. Therefore, we have asked questions to three people with over 60 years of combined experience in international trade with a digital focus. Piet-Hein Kerkhof is Vice President of the advertising service Smartly and has more than 20 years of experience in international e-commerce at some of the world's largest e-retailers. Linda Laszlo Ek helps Swedish companies that want to take their e-commerce out into the world in their role as Senior Trade Adviser and expert on international e-commerce at Business Sweden. Johnas Liljegren is Head of Retail on Facebook where he works closely with many of Sweden's most successful e-commerce exports.If you had advice for a traditional B2C company that wants to start with international e-commerce, what would it be?Linda Laszlo Ek: – Stepping out in other markets online can mean a multiple customer base. In order to withstand an increasingly tough global competition, where e-retailers are fighting for customers, it is becoming increasingly important to plan and set up an export strategy for how to position oneself and stand out among its competitors in each market. Therefore, understanding and getting to know each market you are going to enter and make yourself as relevant as possible to your target group locally will be crucial for your success. It is about everything from being seen in the right channels, understanding customers' behavioral patterns and preferences and instilling a trust that makes local customers feel safe in shopping for your products.Johnas Liljegren:– Today it is important to be discoverable, not just searchable. The physical store has historically accounted for most of the inspiration for purchases, this has now moved to mobile. Just as we want to be recommended what to watch or listen to, we want to be inspired to buy. Just as entertainment platforms work with personalization through data, so do our platforms for both organic content and advertising. Working with insights, automation, creativity and product offerings gives platforms such as Instagram or Facebook the opportunity to inspire more people to choose the advertiser's products.Piet-Hein Kerkhof:– The boundary between online and offline has been blurred. With everything fluttering around in users' feeds and screens, the content must stand out and engage. To be relevant, you as a company must adapt. You succeed by bringing together ad buyers, creators and data analysts to work together to create ads that stand out, reach out and deliver measurable results. Start by digitizing a thing first and do it well. What do you need to know about the laws and regulations in the countries you sell to?Linda Laszlo Ek:– It depends on a few different circumstances and where in the internationalization process you are and how much you should invest in a specific market. Factors such as which products you sell, which markets you should enter and which channels you should use also play a role. But in general, you can say that the more targeted and localized e-commerce you drive towards a certain market, and if you start to reach high sales volumes, the greater your responsibility to follow local regulations. It can be about everything from local product requirements, registration requirements, VAT reporting, marketing rules to information requirements on your web shop to name a few examples. – Everything is regulated more in the e-commerce area than before, so it is important to look at what responsibility you have in each market. There is a lot of work going on within the EU, where new regulations and directives are constantly being added. There are probably few who missed the new VAT rules with the new e-service OSS, which enters into force on 1 July and which will affect EU e-traders. Next year will also see new rules for consumer law in the EU. Can you work with international e-commerce in B2B? What is a good first step to get started? Johnas Liljegren:– Reduce friction at all levels. How can you be more accessible, easier to shop for, better at meeting the customer? In B2B, you often have a small customer group and in a specialized area. Work smart with insights and knowledge you have in your product area and share these with your customers. The role of fairs, events and physical encounters had in the past is increasingly moving online.Linda Laszlo Ek:– It is clear that there is also great potential for many B2B companies to invest in e-commerce and digital channels, something that we see becoming more common and also necessary to create competitive advantages. A good question to ask if you have not started with e-commerce yet is: "Can I improve the customer journey by offering my corporate customers e-commerce?" Then, as with e-commerce for B2C, it is important to set up an export strategy and make yourself relevant in each individual market by understanding the e-commerce maturity locally for the industry, as well as preferences and behavior patterns locally. What works in one market may not work in another.Johnas Liljegren:– Yes, the right questions are important to ask: Do you need to get more companies to know your service or product to be eligible or do you need to be available when the customer is considering different suppliers? Depending on which category you work in, e-commerce will be more or less planned. The big difference from consumer trade is probably that a larger part of the purchases are planned. Can you establish yourself in many markets even though you do not sit in them physically with the help of technology today? Piet-Hein Kerkhof:– Absolutely. Advertising on social media is structured so that you can scale it up to new markets without any major increase in your marketing budget. Through automation, you can easily manage and switch between a large number of accounts and campaigns from one place. Another benefit is that you can find customers who are similar to those who are already buying from you, no matter where in the world they are. You can also automate multilingual campaigns to promote your products in local languages.Linda Laszlo Ek:– Yes, that is the big advantage of e-commerce and digital channels. That, thanks to technology and digital channels, one can today become a globally successful exporter without having to establish oneself with physical activity in every market. Then, of course, there are some advantages of local establishment and registration as you start to get started with sales in a specific market and want to invest more properly. Local establishment makes it possible to play on equal terms and to some extent receive the same benefits as their local competitors. This could be, for example, acquiring a local inventory to be able to compete for fast deliveries, offering local payment solutions or recruiting local customer service.Johnas Liljegren:– Global platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are good examples of how digitalisation and globalization are blurring national borders. As a brand, you can have a presence in all countries where the global platforms operate. Selling your products through e-commerce has lower capital costs than physical commerce. Through e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, salespeople can create e-commerce and payment solutions without large initial costs, and they can work with personalization and effective marketing with tools provided by, among others, Facebook. Today, we often see how newly started so-called "digital native vertical brands" think globally from the start and can control most things centrally and with small teams with the help of technology.This is how Facebook can help you expand your business to new markets

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