A few years ago, almost all e-commerce companies focused on reaching customers in their own regions. This is starting to change, as a growing number of e-commerce entrepreneurs recognize the spectacular opportunities available in emerging markets. The e-commerce market in Asia alone is worth nearly $1.2 trillion.
Both established e-commerce providers and small e-commerce startups are pivoting to the Asian market. Larger online retailers view it as an opportunity to scale their operations. Smaller entrepreneurs target the Asian e-commerce market, because there is less competition, which increases their chances of succeeding with a smaller budget.
However, penetrating the Asian e-commerce market is not a cakewalk. You are still going to need to do your due diligence and invest in the right solutions to have a shot at this promising market. Here are some things that successful e-commerce entrepreneurs must do to thrive in this fascinating part of the world.
Choose countries to operate in wisely
There are 48 countries in Asia. They are remarkably different from one another, which means that some are going to be better for doing business than others.
Before trying to sell products to any Asian country, you will want to research the country carefully. You need to know how much revenue you could potentially generate, the nuances of the nation’s regulatory system and potential for economic growth.
The World Bank Group has a report on the ease of doing business in various Asian markets. You will want to review this report carefully and prioritize operating in countries with a high ease of doing business, unless you have a compelling reason to choose a more restrictive market.
Singapore is currently ranked as the best market to start a business. In addition to being the world‘s wealthiest country, Singapore also has a very friendly regulatory system for foreign companies. You can learn more about setting up a Singapore company if this is a direction that you want to take.
At the other end of the spectrum, Bangladesh is ranked as the worst country in Asia to start a business. Although the economy is growing steadily, the regulatory red tape is excessive. Government corruption is also worse than just about anywhere else in the world.
Make sure that you understand the regulatory structure and processes for any country before trying to operate there.
Research the priority imports for any region that you intend to operate in
Understanding the market is very important before you attempt to establish an e-commerce presence in it. It is a good idea to study the most popular imports. In the Singapore market, there is a strong demand for integrated circuits and cold. The demand for fine jewelry appears to be growing rapidly as well.
Choose reliable distribution partners
You can’t depend on the same supply chain networks that you utilized in the United States or Europe. You are going to need to build relationships with local partners to penetrate Asian consumer channels. Find out which distribution partners can help you expand your reach and offer the most dependable service for a reasonable price.
Learn about the best advertising mediums
Marketing to visitors in other parts of the world is going to be a challenge. You can’t necessarily depend on AdWords, Facebook and other mediums that most other digital marketers use, because the people in these regions may not use those platforms. Find out what search engines, social networking sites and publishers people in other parts of Asia use and how to market to customers on them.
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