A simple, low-cost platform that reaches more than 128 million global shoppers 24/7 translates into a “must-use” marketplace in anybody’s language.
Now, eBay is set to capitalise on its popularity by offering selected UK customers free selling to four of its international websites from this week.
The hand-picked 14,000 users will enjoy no commission fees and zero insertion fees between now and October 7 when they directly list in Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
The offer applies to both auctions or fixed-price listings.
The offer, which came into force on April 7, is part of eBay UK’s plan to persuade sellers who want to overcome barriers to international trade and get their share of cross-border trade, to sell more overseas.
These barriers include language, shipping, law, regulations and payments.
Murray Lambell, director of international trade at eBay Europe, said that cross-border trade represents a “massive economic opportunity” for the UK.
He said: “This promotion – with no fees and free translation tools, gives micro-multinationals the opportunity to expand overseas at low cost, providing a great buying experience and even more choice for shoppers.”
The potential of selling products overseas is vast, escalating business confidence as well as profits.
Angus McCarey, UK retail director at eBay, said: “We know that over half of high-exporting businesses (59.3%) are confident about the next six months compared, with only two-fifths (40.7%) of low-exporting businesses.”
Recession opened traders’ eyes to overseas markets
The Eurozone crisis and domestic inflation has had an adverse effect on sales.
This has resulted in half of online businesses expecting to rely more on export sales from now on.
In fact, six in 10 online companies claim their exports have increased since the start of the recession.
So if the economic downturn had one good point, it was opening the eyes of more and more UK-based firms to the potential of overseas online trade and markets that they may not have contemplated before.
These include BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and even further afield to CIVETS countries (Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa).
An eBay survey of over 1,000 online firms shows that more than a third expect BRIC countries to become more important, while over a quarter see the need to look further afield to the CIVETS countries in order to expand their business base.
McCarey adds: “In today’s connected world, businesses no longer need to rely on one market for their income. International trade is more accessible than ever and online businesses in particular are perfectly placed to make the most of selling overseas.”
He urged the Government to take more action to make sure that services and organisations are equipped to provide specialist advice on exporting to all businesses.
That, McCarey said, especially applied to newcomers to this market who may regularly be subdued by a simple lack of understanding.
This is reinforced in the eBay poll. It found that nearly twice as many low exporters (24% versus 13%) see a lack of understanding of overseas markets – with the complexity of legal and regulatory regimes commonly cited – as a barrier when selling outside of the UK.
Part of this could be easily cut through with the help of professional translation services.
Karen E Klein, in a blog for Bloomberg Businessweek, has advised companies on how to translate their website to reach China’s 550 million-plus internet customers with the following points:
- do your maths: it will probably take only a few customers to get a return on your translation investment, which could range from a few hundred to a few thousand for a huge e-commerce website
- do your homework: market research is key. It’s no good launching a product if the Chinese consumer isn’t interested. Test the water by creating a web page about your firm and another that states precisely what you have to sell and have them translated. Link these two to your home page with a Chinese-language link in basic Mandarin
- start small: get the most popular pages translated first. But never use a computer-generated translation. Consumers may think that if a site is shoddy with spelling and grammatical errors, then its product and selling processes might be too
- keep things fresh: you’ll need to refresh pages and prices regularly. But this is just the start. With overseas consumers come overseas customer service, so your translation services will need expanding
Higher sales without raising overheads
Stuart Kirkwood’s Zest Clothing is one business that has benefited from being an eBay trader.
He said: “Exporting via eBay has allowed us to sell a higher volume of product without increasing our overheads.”
Kirkwood said that the internet, growth of mobile and the increasing importance of social media means that we are globally connected consumers. He added: “This being the case, there is no reason for UK businesses not to sell their products overseas.”
Over four in five small and medium-sized businesses on eBay now sell internationally.
The eBay site, founded in 1995, is an American multinational internet consumer-to-consumer marketplace and now a multi-billion dollar business with operations localised in more than 30 countries.