How post-Covid-19 export will look like

Traditional and digital exports are becoming even more integrated

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Internationalisation Export International marketing Digital Export

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Traditional export or Digital export? Someone defends the first one, others the second one.

The decision to invest in digital channels to sell abroad has to be based on an analysis of company's internal factors and targets. Most companies can achieve better results than the market average if they consistently integrate offline with online.
The reduction of sales costs through automation (order management, logistics, etc.), the improvement of customer relations and the 24 hours a day sales opportunity are just some examples of the advantages that can be obtained by leveraging digital channels.
The distance between online and offline is becoming even more indistinct.

For many customers there is no difference anymore between physical and online space

Digital Export


Let's see some aspects that it is important to think about when using digital channels to sell abroad.

The company website

The corporate website have to be the hub of all your digital activities. Consider the website as a means to generate business contacts and not as a mere showcase. Try not to be self-referential and focus on easy and direct communication that encourages visitors to get in touch with you.
The site have to be user-friendly. Translate contents at least in 2 languages: Italian and English. To generate traffic you can leverage social media, marketplaces, etc.. always having clear that the goal is to bring the visitor from digital channels not owned by you to your own website to make it a new business contact.

Social network

Be sure to choose the right social networks for your business: the best ones are those frequented by your potential buyers. Even a heavily populated social network may still not be suitable for your product. Often companies choose to be present on a social network just because there are so many members.
The aim is to use the great potential of social networks to carry visitors to your website.

Marketplace

Either you sell to end consumers (B2C) or sell to other companies (B2B), marketplaces can be a shorter way than creating your own e-commerce site. If you choose marketplaces, you certainly have less control over marketing mix and what you do will be visible to those who manage the platform. But you will have the great advantage that you don't have to take care of IT and transaction security, platform maintenance, etc.. So you can concentrate on selling your products, by setting up your digital store inside the marketplace.
In general, starting your own platform is expensive, challenging and you will have to wait months, even years, before reach a good position in search engines.

Proprietary e-commerce Platforms

If you make this choice, you should be aware that you have to employ more economic and human resources than selling through marketplaces. But the big advantage is that you can control the whole process and all information will be your exclusive domain (sales statistics, marketing campaigns, etc.).
Then consider how much you want to invest and how long you are willing to wait before generating your first sales.

Amazon effect

When you activate your own online sales channel you have to keep in mind that Amazon has created a standard that buyers demand. Surely you can't be like Amazon but the closer you get to its standards, higher will be the probability that customers come back to buy.
Think of the shopping experience as a whole. Product is only a part of the commercial offer. There are many other elements that are just as important, such as the readiness to process and fulfill the order, delivery, after-sales service, etc..

Nothing is done with nothing

Insiders often use words like "cheap", "free", etc. to promote digital. Actually, the choose to engage in foreign sales on digital channels should not only be based on the cost but mostly on the effects that activation of these channels have on your overall strategy and on the sales increase.
Digital export is possible and desirable and, like all entrepreneurial initiatives, requires investments commensurate with the expected results.


Valerio Ronci
is an experienced Export Manager who has been involved in international business development since 2004. He deeply believes in the importance of using data to make better business business decisions. Valerio writes about internationalisation best practices on the blog exportlinked.com. Since 2019, he has been a member of the ExportPlanning Scientific Committee.