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These Owners Know Small Business

Learn how to optimize the online side of your business. Our expert mentors are here to share the experience, tips, and tricks gained from their own successes.

Ready, set, global.

Whether you’re new to going global or have been open to an international market for a while, we’re here to support your ambitions for growth and keep you connected to the world with best-in-class shipping and a suite of ever-evolving small business resources.And that’s just the beginning.

Stories to Inspire Your Success

Think of these stories as mentorship in just a few minutes. Learn from small business owners who have been there before and take away lessons earned from their experiences.

Go-To-Market Strategy For Growth
Business Growth
0
Min Read
Go-To-Market Strategy For Growth

For businesses wanting to expand internationally, a go-to-market plan will help them identify countries where there is the greatest demand for their products, and create marketing campaigns tailored to local customers. In this article, we will explore the main components of a go-to-market strategy, with guidance on creating one.

When do you need a Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy?

There are three main scenarios when a business may need a go-to-market strategy:

  1. Launching a new product in an existing market – For example, an established wellness brand adding a candle range to its product portfolio.
  2. Launching an existing product in a new market – For example, a furniture business looking to sell to China for the first time.
  3. Testing a new product’s market for growth – For example, a tech startup soft launching an app to limited users to measure demand and response.

In such instances, a go-to-market strategy will minimize their risks via in-depth planning and research into the market they’re entering.

Go-To-Market Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

A go-to-market strategy focuses on how a business will introduce a specific product to the market and reach its target customers. It’s focused on immediate revenue and customer success.

A marketing strategy is a longer-term, ongoing plan for the wider business and covers messaging, content creation, and campaigns – essentially the touchpoints that make the brand memorable in a competitive market. It should be flexible to help the business adapt to demand and find the optimal market-product fit.

Go-To-Market Strategy Benefits

  1. Establish potential problems: A go-to-market strategy ensures due diligence is paid to all the components of a product launch, identifying potential problems early on.
  2. Know how to position your product in the existing market: Thoroughly researching target customers helps create powerful, effective, and tailored marketing messaging, defining your product’s value proposition in a competitive market.
  3. Increase revenue: Emphasizing extensive research and planning before launching a product minimizes risks, ensuring the product reaches the most relevant audience for maximum sales. Understanding the target customer allows adjustments to enhance the product's chances of success.

Components of a Go-To-Market (GTM) Plan

Each business’s go-to-market plan will vary, but general components include:

  1. Market research and analysis
  2. Product promotion
  3. Sales and distribution
  4. Logistics and supply chain management

How to Create a Go-To-Market Strategy

Step 1: Market research and analysis

Thoroughly analyze the existing market, conduct competitor analysis, and define your buyer persona.

Step 2: Craft your Promotion Strategy

  • Construct a value matrix mapping out buyer personas’ pain points.
  • Identify where your target audience spends most of their time and allocate resources accordingly.
  • Continuously track and optimize marketing content performance.

Step 3: Establish your sales and distribution channels

Define where consumers can buy your product and streamline the buyer’s journey for increased sales.

Step 4: Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Prioritize timely product delivery and consider aspects like inventory management, warehousing, and packaging.

Product-led

Here, the product itself is the salesperson, empowered with all the information a buyer may need. A product-led GTM strategy involves analyzing customers’ behavior and interaction with the product to ultimately drive customer acquisition, retention, and growth. This strategy is well-suited for businesses aiming to scale fast at a low customer acquisition cost.

If your business is launching a new product or entering a new market, you’ll need support from the experts. With a DHL Express Business Account, you’ll join thousands of other businesses benefiting from the logistics leader’s international and e-commerce expertise.

A Pair of Truths: Sustainability vs. Responsibility
Business Growth
0
Min Read
A Pair of Truths: Sustainability vs. Responsibility

When my brother, sister and I took our brand Triarchy offline in 2017, we had one goal: Find a better way to make jeans. We gave ourselves 6 months; instead, we took 18-months collectively learning about all sorts of sustainable practices, tools and rigours we could apply to our brand. And that’s what we did. We relaunched Triarchy and set it off in a shiny, new, sustainable direction.

Fashion has always had seasons. And just like fast fashion that hits store shelves as quickly as it does landfills, the word sustainability became the ‘must-have’ accessory of the season. It turns out that the actual sustainability work Triarchy and other independently-owned fashion brands were doing ended up being lost in the pile. “Sustainability” was losing its integrity just as we were pivoting to our mission of responsibly and ethically made denim.

From rituals of self-care to limiting food waste, the pandemic made it clear that responsible consumption is here to stay. You’ve likely felt it yourself, especially when your customer asks about the origins of what you’re selling. Brands responded — either by doubling down on making their businesses better or by amplifying minimal efforts to look like sustainability is their entire ethos.

Reveal the camouflaging of greenwashing by asking questions

Greenwashing happens easily because it’s labour-intensive to put a lens on every brand. It’s like seeing the ‘low-sugar’ sticker on a box of cereal — maybe it is! But unless you’re going to read the nutritional label, a lot of people, as well as the people making supply chain decisions, are going to take these claims as “facts” at face value. These get passed on to the buyers, and how we spend our dollars end up perpetuating this cycle by giving these brands a pass. We need to be asking harder questions.

If something is too good to be true, it probably is. I realized that by not asking tough questions. If I don’t know the truth behind what I’m passing along to our customers, then I can’t operate a business. With that revelation, I discovered that Triarchy’s entire sustainability journey would be a tasting menu to the regular buyer, but it’d be up to me to define it, shape it and tell that story.

Give your buyers a crash course in your responsible practices

There are few governing bodies or certified labels and certifications out there that buyers can rely on to do the hard work and measure a brand’s commitment to sustainability. Sadly, vendors often misrepresent themselves and tell designers one thing, which can lead to splashy marketing campaigns that attract a customer’s eye. Once someone sees this plastered all over their website or bricks-and-mortar store, the common thought is, “hey, this is amazing!” But we want to be pushing them to think: “that’s interesting, I want to know more.”

For example, when you see a claim that a fabric’s stretch comes from recycled water bottles, that’s great. But what’s added to it to give it a new life? Is the process still producing microplastics in our water? Is recycled plastic just making new garbage from old garbage? At its end of life, will this sit in a landfill for 200 years, just like regular plastic?

Why ask these questions? Well, I bought into the recycled water bottle stretch story at one point, but I knew something didn't feel right. I needed to do the critical work and suss out whether this technology I claim to be responsible and sustainable is actually responsible and sustainable! If I don’t, I risk damaging Triarchy’s brand, as well as my own commitment to being a responsible, professional and personal citizen.

The responsible work.

The most sustainable thing you can do, as a small business, is hire a third party auditor. We work with Greenstory and Retraced to do just this. Greenstory investigates our manufacturing practices and Retraced, our supply chain. Businesses like theirs can vet your practices and your products and then report back to you how sustainable you really are. This does a couple things:

  1. It puts your money where your mouth is when discussing sustainability
  2. It provides a framework to work within that highlights where you can be better, giving you a clear understanding on how to improve your practices.

Seeing actual metrics for every product Triarchy makes in real time is inspiring to us and easy to understand for customers. It’s a win, win for everybody, even when you don’t like the report, because that’s the only way to make the report better. To me, that is running a business responsibly.

Think responsibly. Think sustainably.

As small business owners, we have to work harder to maintain the integrity of the word, sustainability. At Triarchy, we did a simple exercise. We took the definition of “sustainability” (“Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”) and applied it to what we were doing. We took stock of our industry — a lot of brands were leaning into sustainability but all with very different comprehension of the word. This is where greenwashing comes into play. It’s also where we saw an opportunity to forge a new path — instead of touting our sustainability, we were leaning into our responsibility.

If we’re going to throw the word sustainability around, then we need to start thinking about its intended meaning. Start asking questions. And start acting responsibly. Responsibility is a word I want to stand behind because it offers a framework to operate a brand within when trying to make jeans better, and therefore, better jeans.

___________________________________________

About the Author:

Adam is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Triarchy, a sustainable denim brand whose mission is to conserve the planet's most important resource by reducing the massive water consumption of the planet's most beloved piece of clothing, jeans. Learn more about Adam and Triarchy here.

Why Your Voice Matters in Your Business and Your Brand
Business Growth
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Min Read
Why Your Voice Matters in Your Business and Your Brand

I’ve been running my business and brand as a speaker and coach for the past 8 years. In the beginning, I thought I needed an agent or speaker’s bureau to help me get started and get my name out into the world. I didn’t have any of that, so instead I used something I was born with — my voice.

I pitched a television show, and ended up being on air for six seasons. From there, I started to deliver more talks and used my voice to show up on social media. I began telling event organizers that I was what their events needed. The more I networked and spoke, the more people were introduced to me and the more opportunities came my way.

In 2015, I was invited to host a TEDx event in Toronto. I was excited for the huge opportunity and proud that my voice had taken me there. As we were preparing for the event, I was told the TEDx organizers needed to review my pre-written introductions. This request came from their public speaking coach (which I didn’t even know was a thing at the time) and I told her flat out: “No.”

I explained that my style is to speak in real time, from the heart. She told me that wasn’t how TEDx worked, and that they needed to see my content ahead of time. Instead of changing my style and approach for this event, I explained that it wouldn’t feel like me if it was scripted and prescribed. I showed her videos of my television show and other talks I had given — none of which had a script. She was so surprised to find out I had been winging it in everything I showed her. I was allowed to proceed without pre-written introductions and at the end of the event the speaking coach gave me her card and said: “This isn’t for you — this is for somebody who needs it. Pass it on to someone else.”

I trusted my voice and my ability to speak on the fly — which enabled me to be fully present and in the moment as TEDx’s host that day. Two years later, I became a speaking coach.

Your voice is the secret sauce of your business strategy. You use it to introduce yourself, reassure yourself, ask for what you need and negotiate. The beautiful thing about your voice is that it’s a renewable resource — you don’t have to buy a monthly subscription or a license or pay a fee — it’s yours. And the more you use it, the better it gets.

These are five of my favourite affirmations to help me feel more confident. When you feel stuck or scared to use your voice, I encourage you to take a couple minutes to say these words. Put your hand on your chest and say each out loud with confidence and conviction:

1. Every time I open my mouth I’m improving

This one is dedicated to the perfectionists out there who think that the first time they deliver their elevator pitch, introduce themselves or make a sizzle reel, that it’s going to come out perfectly the first time. Breaking news: it’s not always going to happen. Don’t focus on perfection, focus on growth. Every time you talk about your business, your ideas, or your brand, you’re getting better. And with every opportunity, you’ll be more connected and learn to trust yourself more. Allow yourself room to grow each and every time you open your mouth to speak.

2. My story is worth sharing

We’re not all tech CEOs with a heart-wrenching story about starting on the streets, surviving only on Goldfish crackers, and overcoming many obstacles to make millions. Your story is your story. You don’t have to go through something monumental or fight a dragon along the way for folks to find your story compelling. There is value in your story, people will resonate with it, and it is worth sharing.

3. Can I wing this? Yes I can!

This one is especially for the people who think they need to write everything down or memorize every single word they want to say. You can wing it. Your audience does not know what you’re going to say. You are there to talk about you, your ideas and your brand. They are ready to hear what you have to say and receive it. The more you improvise or wing your talks, the better you’ll get. Show yourself that you trust your ideas and your ability to share them in real time. (Because every time you open your mouth you’re improving, right?)

4. I have the ability to captivate any audience

I don’t care who is in the room, what their title is, how much money they make or how many social media followers they have — you can wow anybody. And whether it’s the first year or the fifteenth year of your business, your energy, your presence and your story plays a role in how you impact others. You have the ability to captivate any audience just by being you.

5. No one will hear me unless I open my mouth

If you’re not talking about your ideas, introducing yourself or telling people why they should support your business, no one is going to hear you. People are not mind readers — they need to know about you, your brand or your business in order to seek you out. Now is the time to start using your voice.

Eight years after starting my business, I still don’t have an agent and I’m not part of a speaker’s bureau. My voice has been the number one thing that has given me opportunities, opened doors, and put me on stages I never thought I’d be on. Your voice can do the same for you. Utilize that free resource that you were given, and believe in the power of your voice.

___________________________________________

About the Author

Jahmeelah “Jam” Gamble is an award winning media personality, sought out keynote speaker, and CEO behind “Slay The Mic”, a program that helps aspiring speakers, content creators, and entrepreneurs transform their voice.

Learn more about Jam at iamjamgamble.com or on Instagram at @iamjamgamble

Levelling up your small business starts here.
Check out these quick reads for some lasting lessons.

How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How Milk Jar Became a Philanthropic Company

My love for candles began in my early 20s; I’d always loved their beautiful smells that filled my room and their glowing ambiance. I remember I couldn’t wait to move out of my parent’s house and go to University, just so I could finally decorate my own place. The Bohemian style of decor was very popular at the time – crafted candles and earthy smells were a must-have to create a natural and cozy atmosphere. They say that your 20s are about self-discovery. You try out different paths, interests and styles, with every year of getting older also getting to know yourself deeper and closer to your authentic self. It’s our way of finding your life’s purpose – and I found mine through candle making.

In my undergrad, I studied Kinesiology. Early on in my schooling, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but chose the degree based on my interests in sports and healthcare. I come from a family of healthcare professionals, so I always assumed that I’d end up working in that field as well. My parents taught me that a meaningful job is one where you can help others, and that’s what started me on my journey.

By the end of my degree, I had gained a lot of experience in sport therapy, exercise, rehabilitation, biology, etc., but the area that I became most passionate about was adaptations and accommodations for disabled people. I only had one class in my entire four-year degree that taught me about this, but when I took the class, I jumped at the opportunity to do a practicum with the Special Olympics and volunteered to facilitate a pool therapy program for a teen with Cerebral Palsy. That semester, I built a strong bond with the teen and his mother and we decided to keep swimming after my work experience contract was complete.

I was hired to swim once a week for 6-8 months of the year, and sometimes I visited their home to do some on-land therapy and stretching. We did this for 7 years, until he turned 20. Being a part of this family’s life and witnessing their dedication to making sure their son lived a full and rich life was a life-changing experience for me. In all the beautiful moments, I also saw the really hard ones: the exhaustion from medical visits, the back-and-forth for funding support, and the struggles of raising a child with a disability in a world that does not offer equal opportunities. This really opened my eyes to how hard this world can be for people living with disabilities, and their families, and it sparked my desire to find a career where I can help this community.

Milk Jar was not my first attempt at a job with my new-found passion. My original plan was to get my master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Unfortunately, it was a competitive program and I wasn’t accepted. I was disappointed, but I still wouldn’t have traded those evenings in and out with friends for a few extra days of studying. I’m a strong advocate for living life to its fullest, so I have no regrets – and everything happens for a reason! Enter Milk Jar.

The idea of creating Milk Jar came to me, about four years after finishing school, during a time when I was feeling quite lost. I had worked a couple jobs that I cared very much about, but none of them made me feel like I was making the impact that I knew I was capable of. I was making candles in my home as a way to experiment with soy wax when I learned that burning common paraffin wax candles released carcinogens and soot into the air that could cause respiratory issues and other health concerns.

I mentioned before I loved burning candles and had them in every room in my home. Because of my family and background in Kinesiology, choosing healthy lifestyle options has always been important to me. I could’ve just started purchasing other candles made with natural waxes, but it seemed easy enough to make myself – and more fun! I quickly learned that it wasn’t that easy, but I enjoyed the process of learning how to blend fragrances, vessels, waxes, and wicks. And my favourite piece to candle making? Developing scents that capture a memory, place or feeling.

After a year of making candles and also feeling like I wasn’t connected to the disability community that I cared so much about, I decided in April 2016 that I’d start a business selling my candles that donated a portion of its profits to organizations that were doing amazing work that. I launched Milk Jar that November and reached out to the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing and offered to donate $1 from the sale of every candle to them that following year.

I was just as terrified as I was excited to launch into entrepreneurship. I had no idea what I was doing, let alone running a business, but I was passionate about creating a company that was more than just Milk Jar. By inserting a philanthropic purpose into Milk Jar from the start, all my nerves about whether it would succeed or fail didn’t matter. It would’ve already been a success even if I donated $50. That first year we donated $2000 to CADS Calgary.

Fast forward to today and Milk Jar has donated over $100,000 to various non-profits including: CADS Calgary, Between Friends, and PaceKids Programs. Last year, we became an inclusive employer, hiring people in our community living with disabilities to help hand craft the products we make. This has fundamentally changed the culture in our company, we experience more joy at work and everyone is more motivated. We are learning from each other everyday. It’s a beautiful atmosphere to be around people that may appear different from us but recognize that we all want similar things in life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a little home-grown business could raise this much money and touch as many lives as Milk Jar has in 5 years. I finally found my purpose – and it wasn’t something I waited to find me – I created it.

I’ve learned a lot over the years of starting and running this business, and if there is one thing that you take away from reading this, it’s to ask yourself what else? What else does your business do besides its obvious sale of product or service? What does your company stand for value, and contribute to that gets you out of bed on those tough days? And believe me, you will have them. How have you added purpose into your company that you can speak to, are passionate about, and that every member of your team can be proud of?

A business that cares will be your greatest return on investment. Now more than ever, people want to know that their dollars are being spent on companies that care about economic and social sustainability. When you show that your company is more than just the business of sales, you will have lifelong supporters that’ll be dedicated to helping you succeed.

There’s a lot of inequity in this world. Supporting an important cause that elevates your community can come in many forms: donating, volunteering, advocating, befriending, etc., and it feels really good to give your time, energy and/or money to initiatives that need and benefit from it.

I believe it’s our duty to take care of each other and our planet, and it is the way to lead a purposeful life. Owning your own business is a privilege. A privilege that should be used to make this world better for others, not to make ourselves better than others. If we could all experience the same opportunities, access and treatment, then what a beautiful world we would be living in.

___________________________________________

About the Author

Holly Singer is a compassionate and inspirational 32-year-old entrepreneur and philanthropist. She grew up in Victoria BC, moved to Calgary for university, and has since built Milk Jar to what it is today in what she now calls home. Holly enjoys relaxing at home with her dog Bowie and plans to do a diving trip in Indonesia sometime in the near future.

Learn more about Holly at milkjar.ca or on Instagram at @milkjarcandleco

10 Quick Wins to Improve Your Logistics
Going Global
0
Min Read
10 Quick Wins to Improve Your Logistics

So how can you optimize your logistics today? Here are 10 quick tips to turn logistical headaches into successful deliveries.

Efficient logistics operations can save your business time and money while ensuring timely delivery to your customers. While some improvements require investment and planning, there are simple changes you can make today to enhance efficiency. Here are 10 tips to supercharge your logistics:

  1. List your weaknesses and identify the changes
    Determine areas in your logistics operation that can be improved, such as inventory management, storage, picking, packing, or invoicing. Write down actions that could increase productivity and divide them into short-term and long-term changes.
  2. Measure performance
    Set specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to target and measure improvements. Speak to logistics experts, such as DHL, to find out what kind of metrics you should be tracking—and what the numbers mean. Are you hitting the industry averages or falling below?
  3. Ask your employees
    Your on-the-ground team members are on the front line and talking to customers and suppliers every day. That makes them a valuable resource for identifying areas of improvement. Gather their input and ideas, as they often have practical insights into inefficiencies and potential solutions. Consider implementing incentives to motivate and reward improved performance; did they deliver consistently on time or receive positive customer feedback? Make sure your people are recognized for great logistics work.
  4. Optimize warehouse layout
    Arrange your warehouse to prioritize popular items closer to the shipping station while minimizing bottlenecks. Consider vertical racking systems to maximize space utilization. Use inventory management software to forecast demand and plan stock accordingly.
  5. Streamline packing
    Simplify the packing process by allowing pickers to place items directly into pre-addressed boxes. Use mini mobile printers to generate address labels instantly. The upfront cost of the printers and software will pay for itself in just a few months.
  6. Offer green options
    Consumers increasingly want more sustainable e-commerce options, from green delivery options to recyclable packaging. In 2020, only 58% of consumers were willing to spend more for sustainable e-commerce options. Just two years later, nearly 90% of consumers said that they would be willing to spend an extra 10% or more for sustainable products1. You can read our guide to greener packaging here.
  7. Get external help for international shipping
    Ensure accurate and detailed descriptions of goods and correct Harmonized System (HS) codes to prevent customs delays. Explore resources like the DHL Express International Shipping Toolkit for guidance on global brand strategy and reducing cart abandonment
  8. Get smart about your delivery routes
    Some items just always seem to get damaged in transit. It’s worth analyzing which products get damaged—maybe there’s a pattern that means you can treat those packages differently. Evaluate different shipping providers for reliability—the cheapest option in the short term sometimes means more expensive over the long term once damaged items and lost customers are taken into account. Also, consider load planning software to optimize the way goods are loaded for safer transport.
  9. Embrace technology
    AI, analytics, and automation are making waves in the logistics sector. AI adoption in logistics is growing by 43%2 every year, so it makes sense to seriously consider your own AI strategy. Explore software solutions that automate and optimize elements of your logistics operations, such as stock analysis, staff scheduling, and inventory management. Route management and optimization—making sure drivers take the best route to make all drops quickly and economically—is a common application of AI and has been for a number of years.
  10. Focus on last-mile delivery
    Depending on which survey you pay attention to, the last mile of your logistics process—getting the product to your customer—is between 41%3 and 53%4 of the cost of the total logistics cycle. In other words, it’s the hardest part. Partnering with a reliable logistics expert like DHL can enhance the customer experience by integrating express, on-demand, and international shipping options into your checkout process. Ensure a positive final impression by delivering goods on time and in excellent condition and give customers regular tracking updates: 82% of consumers expect tracking updates.5

Implementing these changes can yield quick wins and improve your overall logistics operations. Ready to ship? Get essential market insights from the DHL Express International Shipping Toolkit, or talk to one of DHL's 160,000 logistics experts today.

References

1 – Forbes, March 2022

2 – Interactive AI – DHL - Global

3 – Statista, 2018

4 – Insider Intelligence, 2023

5 – My Customer, 2016

6 Principles of Marketing for Your Business
Business Growth
0
Min Read
6 Principles of Marketing for Your Business

What is marketing? Is it just a fancy word for selling?

It’s way more than that. While selling is mostly about the transaction of goods for cash, marketing concerns itself with the entire business process. It embraces product development, the people who are most likely to buy your product, your pricing structure, promotional techniques and more. If you see a pattern developing here, you’re right.

What are the 4 Ps of the marketing mix?

The 4 Ps of marketing are Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

It’s generally believed that there are four Ps in what people call ‘the marketing mix'. (Some stretch the term to include seven or even nine, but there are four main ones.) Whether you sit down and construct a formal five-year marketing strategy for your business, or tend to 'freestyle' things, you should always be thinking about the four Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

6 Basic Marketing Principles

At DHL, we always go the extra mile (excuse the pun). So rather than four, we focus on six marketing principles: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People and Packaging. That’s right, we’ve added People and Packaging into the mix. Let's take a closer look at each one:

1. Product

This is presumably why you’re here. You’ve got a good product and you want to sell it. For the sake of brevity, our use of ‘product’ also includes things like apps and services, and applies to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales. Right from the start, you need to forget that you’ve got anything to do with the product at all. Instead, examine it afresh from the perspective of a potential customer. Channel their thoughts like this:

  • Hey, that looks cool. I wonder what it does?
  • I could use something like this in my study/garage/kitchen
  • I wonder if it’s available in black?
  • Maybe there are cheaper versions elsewhere?
  • This would make me look good to my boss/partner/kids
  • Not sure about that name. How am I supposed to pronounce it?
  • Why all this packaging? Don’t they know plastic is the enemy?
  • It would make a great gift. Maybe it’s cheaper if I buy several
  • Ah, the instructions...‘Utilize’? ‘Enablement’? Who talks like this?

By forensically examining every aspect of your product – maybe asking impartial observers to do likewise – you’ll find ways to enhance it or make it more appealing to more people. You need to think ahead too. Just about everything for sale has a ‘product life cycle’, a period after which sales naturally decline. You must be ready for that, and plan to introduce new and/or improved versions of the product long before your sales curve starts to head south.

“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.” – Bryan Eisenberg, Author & Keynote Speaker

2. Price

Ever noticed anything odd about men’s grooming site, Dollar Shave Club? They’re wildly successful at what they do, but nobody’s ever bought a razor from them for a dollar. It can’t be done. Not once the cost of shipping is included. That’s just one example of how a clever pricing strategy (together with a catchy name) can reel the shoppers in. Determining the price of your product is a balancing act. Set it too low and you might appear cheap and inferior. Set it too high and people will quickly look elsewhere. There are exceptions, of course. A Dyson fan will blow the same air around your living room as a regular fan, but advanced technology and a unique design mean the company can command a cost per unit many times higher than other manufacturers.

Rather than going with your gut feeling, do some research. Look at what your competitors (if any) are charging and learn what your potential customers would be willing to pay. Consider offering bulk discounts or introductory offers, or adding value in other ways such as a user guide or club membership. Dive into the consumer psychology of pricing too – you can read more about nudge techniques around pricing, here. Then consider which pricing strategy you should implement. There’s a range of different strategies to suit different objectives and marketing environments. Some of the main ones are:

Market Penetration

This is where your initial price is set artificially low, then hiked once you’ve achieved a predetermined market share. New subscription services like TV or broadband providers typically use this model. As we’ve seen, the Dollar Shave Club is pretty much just the name on the door.

Price Skimming

Price skimming occurs when a first-to-the-market company can afford to charge a higher price, but then has to lower it when cut-price competitors arrive on the scene. Most hi-tech items are eye-wateringly expensive at launch.

Neutral Pricing

Here, you set the price to match whatever the bulk of your competitors are charging. It’s not a strategy to adopt if your products are demonstrably superior to others. Once you’ve settled on a price that brings the orders trickling in, turn your attention to how you can modify your pricing strategy so that the trickle becomes a stream, then a torrent, then a flood. Never stop testing, in other words. (But always have that other P word at the back of your mind – profit.)

3. Place

'Place' in a marketing mix context refers not to a single location but to several: where your business is located; where your customers are located; and any points in between such as warehouses, distributors and retailers. How you get your products from you to the end user is, as with most things in marketing, customer driven. You have to find out where your customers are, where they might look to find your product, where they’d feel most comfortable buying it, how long they’re prepared to wait for it to be delivered, how often they’re likely to place an order and so on. Knowing the answers will help you determine the best – i.e. quickest, simplest and most cost-efficient – method of getting your stuff out there.

Now, you could be lucky in that your business might thrive just through selling handmade watches to a handful of high net worth individuals every year. In which case, distribution is a pretty simple matter and your main concern is ensuring you have hefty insurance. But for most SMEs, a more structured system will be required. It’s no exaggeration to say that distribution can make or break a business. But help is at hand. Because when it comes to national or international logistics, whether for global corporations or bedroom-based start-ups, nobody can offer more hands-on experience or helpful advice than DHL. With offices in over 220 countries and territories, we’re the first name in crossing borders, reaching new markets and growing your business. And, as our software aligns with many e-commerce platforms, your customers can see shipping costs transparently.

4. Promotion

This is what most people think of when you talk about marketing, but promotion is just the communication aspect of the marketing process and is often one of the last steps you take.

Promotion can take many forms:

  • Advertising
  • TV and radio
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Posters
  • PPC (pay per click) advertising
  • Online banners
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Social media – including influencer marketing
  • Sales Promotion
  • Money-off coupons
  • Loyalty programs
  • Product sampling
  • Competitions
  • Point of salePublic Relations
  • Press releases
  • Exhibitions and events
  • Sponsorship  

5. People

It goes without saying that your customers should be at the heart of everything you do. After all, without them, there is no business. Ask yourself:

  • What do people want from your product or service?
  • Are they using it in ways you hadn’t envisaged?
  • How are they interacting with your brand?
  • What are they saying about you on social media or review sites?
  • Do you value your customers or feel they somehow ‘get in the way’?
  • How can you improve their experience of your website or products?
  • When was the last time you wrote a personal note to a customer?


And people doesn't just refer to your customers; the people who work for you are also vital to the success of your enterprise. A lot of companies claim to be people-centric, but this should always be more than a buzz phrase for your ‘about us’ page. If you’re passionate about your business, you’ll clearly want people who share at least some of your commitment. This shared idealism not only creates a happier working environment, it also helps gives you a competitive edge over less united rivals. This topic is explored in our article investigating how to build your team for success.

6. Packaging

Unlike traditional advertising like television or press ads, digital media lets you test the effectiveness of promotions very accurately. You can launch a marketing campaign online and immediately see how many people interacted with your ad, visited your website and bought a product. The trouble is, your competitors can do exactly the same thing – and their marketing budget might be bigger, meaning they can reach more people, more often. So it’s here that you balance the science of responsive marketing with creativity and impact, so that your advertising stands out from the crowd through the use of striking images or a distinctive ‘tone of voice’.

Incidentally, pay no heed to those who claim advertising doesn’t work on them. They’re often the ones who drive a VW ‘because it’s reliable’, wear Levis ‘because they’re hard-wearing’ or use Persil because it ‘washes whiter’. And finally...You may be a marketing whizz, but remember, no form of promotion has ever bettered the authenticity of word-of-mouth recommendations. But that takes time and continual investment in your product and customer service. In the meantime, focus on "the golden six"!

Exporting To China: How To Maximize Every Sales Opportunity
Going Global
0
Min Read
Exporting To China: How To Maximize Every Sales Opportunity

Export to China: market overview

It’s no secret that China is a thriving hotspot of global trade. Data from the DHL Trade Growth Atlas found that between 2016 and 2021, the country generated a staggering one-quarter of global trade growth. Whilst the West has long thought of China as the world’s manufacturing capital, it provides plenty of import opportunities for international brands, too.

The penetration rate of online shopping in China has grown rapidly over the last ten years, from 42.9% in 2002 to 79.2% in 20221, making it one of the key emerging markets for cross-border businesses to target. But what are consumers there buying? And from which countries?

China’s imports

Which countries do Chinese e-commerce users buy from the most?

Distribution of goods purchased by cross-border import e-commerce users in China as of January 2021, by region of origin:

Source: Statista2

For these countries, China is a huge cross-border e-commerce opportunity.

Exporting to China: understanding the Chinese market

To successfully sell to a new international market, you need to understand local buyers’ behaviors and preferences. These insights can inform your sales and marketing strategies.

What do Chinese online shoppers buy from cross-border brands?

Cross-border e-commerce retail imports by product (as share of total transaction value), 2021:

Source: Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China3

Mobile commerce

China is a mobile-first country, driven by the government’s prioritization of the development of 5G wireless technology. 64% of all e-commerce transactions in China are completed on a mobile device4, predominantly ‘super-apps’ (see below) where users can socialize, shop, and pay for products on a single platform. International brands wishing to attract these mobile buyers will need to invest heavily in a Chinese-language smartphone app.

Online marketplaces

Chinese consumers like shopping at online marketplaces as they allow them to browse and compare several products at once. The leading marketplaces in China are Alibaba, Taobao, Tmall and JD.com. Selling on these platforms is tricky for cross-border brands, as sellers have to be registered in mainland China to qualify. But, there is a way in – Tmall has a dedicated sister site, Tmall Global, specifically set up for foreign brands; you don’t need a physical entity in China or a Chinese business license to sell on the platform, and you can accept payment in your local currency. Discover the full pros and cons, here.

Customer service

“Guanxi” is a Chinese concept which describes how personal and business relationships are built on trust. It filters down to Chinese consumers’ expectations of exceptional customer service – with personalization, fast and reliable shipping, and a stress-free shopping experience cited as the top priorities. As customer reviews play an important part in Chinese buyers’ decision-making, underperforming on customer experience risks your business being named and shamed online.

Value and quality

Price is an important factor to Chinese consumers – they shop around for deals, coupons and discounts. Cross-border brands often struggle to compete with domestic brands’ pricing and product choice.

Yet, they can win over Chinese buyers through product quality. The Chinese counterfeit market has created distrust amongst many shoppers there, who instead look overseas for better quality. Position yourself as a trusted brand with authentic products, and consumers will respond well.

Social commerce

Social media and e-commerce go hand in hand in China. Popular video platform Douyin (the country’s version of TikTok) allows users to buy products they see streaming on the app simply by tapping the video. Unfortunately, it is hard for foreign businesses to set up a Douyin account unless they have a base in mainland China.

An easier route to the Chinese market is through WeChat, the country’s most popular messaging app – with a whopping 1.24 billion monthly active users5a  who spend an average of 2 hours per day on it5b. With WeChat for Business, you can set up an e-commerce storefront on the WeChat platform to sell directly to Chinese consumers. The app has an in-built payment service, WeChat Pay, making facilitating payments seamlessly for your business and your customers.

Live streaming

China is the world’s livestreaming capital, where the feature has been a mainstream part of e-commerce for years. There are countless livestream platforms where “KOLs” – key opinion leaders, the Chinese equivalents of influencers – show and demonstrate a product, and interact live with viewers who ask questions. The personal touch of this engagement makes promotional activities more convincing and boosts sales. If you want to tap into the Chinese market, you should seriously consider marketing through livestreaming.

Shopping holidays

Much like the West’s Amazon Prime Day, China has several of its own major shopping festivals when record numbers of consumers head online in search of bargains. Two of the most popular are Singles’ Day (11 November), and the 618 festival (June 18th). Do your research and plan your marketing strategy weeks in advance to cash in on every opportunity.

Major shopping dates for your calendar

Digital wallets

Unsurprisingly in a mobile-first market, digital wallets are the leading payment method for Chinese consumers – with Alipay and WeChat Pay taking the biggest market share of transactions6. Online shoppers are 70% more likely to finalize a purchase if their preferred payment method is displayed as an option at checkout7, so always do your research into local buyers’ preferences!

Challenges of exporting to China

Selling to China does not come without challenges. But don't worry, DHL's expert on China exports and shipping has provided you with the key strategies to overcome them, so read the below which will help you create actionable plans to export to China.

1. Navigating customs & import clearance

Shipping your products into China can be a complex and time-consuming operation:

  • The country has strict customs procedures – even more so since Covid – which require shippers to provide detailed documentation and comply with specific regulations. Any incorrect or missing paperwork can cause shipments to be held up.
  • Certain products, including food, electronics and medical devices will have extra regulations to comply with to avoid delays, fines, or even seizure of the shipment.

The solution              

It is important for businesses to work with a logistics provider that has experience and expertise with customs processes so that their shipments are cleared quickly and efficiently. By partnering with international logistics leader DHL, businesses will receive support navigating China’s customs regulations. This includes guidance on how to complete the process of customs clearance, so that shipments aren’t delayed. For DHL account holders, this is offered as a dedicated service.

2. The cost of shipping to China

China imposes import taxes and duties on many products. This, added to the cost of shipping and customs fees, will quickly add up for your business – and make it difficult for you to compete on price with domestic sellers.

The solution

  • DHL offers competitive shipping rates – with its estimated cost calculator, you can gain a quote quickly. You can then factor this cost into your pricing strategy and how you charge your customers for shipping.
  • DHL’s Duties & Taxes Paid (DTP) service charges import duties, taxes and other shipping fees back to your business, rather than your customers. It’s more convenient for your customers, ensuring a seamless experience that boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Setting up a Chinese-facing website

Unfortunately, selling to Chinese consumers as a cross-border brand involves more than just changing the language of your website. To show up on Chinese search engines’ result pages, you need a site hosted in China. This involves several complex steps, including registering with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and obtaining relevant commercial licenses – all of which can take several months.

The solution: sell via an online marketplace

As previously mentioned, some of China’s leading marketplaces have dedicated “sister” sites for international brands to sell on – without the need for a legal entity or bank account in the country. These include Tmall Global and JD Worldwide. Take your time researching your options, factoring in fees, the type of products you sell (e.g. some platforms are more suited for luxury goods), and how long you may have to wait for approval.

4. Fast shipping

Chinese consumers expect fast delivery – even from overseas brands. The sheer size and scale of the country – plus poor infrastructure in rural areas – makes this a big task for cross-border businesses.

The solution: partner with DHL

DHL has a vast global network which means it can help your business reach customers in China quickly. DHL Express will deliver your shipment to China with full tracking so that you – and your customers – can check the delivery status of the shipment in real-time. Peace of mind for you, excellent service for your customers.

Market entry strategy: Steps to export to China

Preparing to export to China

1. Conduct market research

China is a vast country of over 1.4 billion consumers – but not all of them are prospects. You should have a clear idea of the demographic of your target audience – including age, budget, which online marketplaces they buy from the most, which social media platforms they engage with, their preferred payment method(s) etc. These insights will help you personalize your marketing segmentation strategy.

2. Localize your brand

Choosing a Chinese name for your business will help you appeal to consumers there. And of course, it’s important that your product listings/social media content/customer service are in the local language, too. Just be sure to use Chinese experts for this though – relying on online translators risks misinterpretations. Finally, ensure your business accepts payment in the local currency.

3. Select a suitable entry strategy

For many international small businesses and e-commerce startups, selling on a Chinese marketplace is the best entry strategy. You will benefit from these platforms’ vast customer base, local knowledge, and existing fulfilment services. Of course, there are some fees involved, but the time you save in dealing with administration will more than make up for it.

4. Know your Unique Selling Point

It may be tempting to go all in and adapt your products for Chinese buyers. But remember, many Chinese customers – particularly those of luxury goods – buy from foreign brands specifically because they offer something different. Knowing why customers want your products – whether it’s the quality or price, for example – will help you market them effectively. This is most probably something you will learn over time, using analytics data and customer feedback.

5. Plan logistics and shipping

For this, there really is no better route than partnering with an international logistics leader. With a presence in over 220 countries and territories, no carrier understands international shipping like DHL – and can help your business grow in China with ease.

Feeling inspired and ready to sell to China? First stop – open a DHL Express Business Account for expert international shipping advice and competitive rates.

References

1 – Statista, April 2023

2 – Statista, July 2022

3 – Mitsui & Co., November 2021

4 – J.P. Morgan, 2021

5a & 5b – Shopify, December 2022

6 – Statista, July 2022

7 – Verifone, June 2020

How To Sell To China On Singles' Day 2023
Business Growth
0
Min Read
How To Sell To China On Singles' Day 2023

WHAT IS SINGLES' DAY?

Move over Valentine’s Day, the singles want some fun, too! China’s Singles’ Day on 11 November (11/11 – all the singles!) was originally conceived by a group of college bachelors who wanted a dedicated holiday to celebrate their singledom. Then in 2009, spotting an opportunity, China’s leading e-commerce marketplace Alibaba began marketing Singles’ Day as a special sales event. Since then, it's become an annual shopping bonanza where it’s not unusual for sales to reach ten times that of an average shopping day in China.

So, how can your e-commerce business take a slice of this very lucrative pie?

Perhaps you’re already selling to Chinese buyers through an online marketplace such as Amazon or Alibaba, or maybe you ship internationally to customers there via your own e-commerce website. Either way now is the time to prepare. Here’s how…

SINGLES’ DAY 2023: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

It’s the world’s biggest shopping day

Singles’ Day sales are bigger than Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday combined!(1) In 2021, online sales on JD.com and Alibaba – the country’s leading e-commerce sites – reached US$139 billion(2), setting a new record.

It’s not just restricted to China

The shopping bonanza is gaining momentum across the world. One analysis tracked 290,000 brands from over 90 countries and regions participating in Tmall’s Singles’ Day sales in 2022(3). Of those, 70,000 were doing so for the first time. Will your business join them this year?

Tmall Global is your gateway to the Chinese market

As the largest e-commerce platform in China, you’ve probably heard of Alibaba4, a B2B business connecting wholesale exporters in China with countries around the world. The bit you should know about is Tmall Global5, Alibaba’s dedicated B2C platform specifically set up for foreign businesses. It allows cross-border sellers to build virtual storefronts and ship products to Chinese customers without the need for a physical entity in the country or a Chinese business license. You can also accept payments in your local currency.

There’s room for everyone

Singles’ Day isn’t just for the big retailers. In the first 28 hours of 2022’s sales, the transaction volumes of 50k small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and 70k SME merchants increased 100%(6).

Chinese shoppers like to buy from overseas brands

According to a survey of Tmall Global shoppers7, the leading reasons they buy from cross-border brands are:

Important information to consider when you’re planning your Singles’ Day marketing campaign!

Livestreaming is BIG business

Though relatively new in the West, livestreaming has been hugely popular in China for years. Customers enjoy being able to learn about a product in-depth, whilst for businesses, this engagement leads to greater conversions.

The challenge for overseas brands is to find a video hosting platform with the relevant clearance in China. Instead, they could focus on ensuring their product listings feature plenty of high-res photos, video tutorials and how-to guides, whilst being quick to respond to customer queries on social media.

Sustainability is entering the conversation

Despite Singles’ Day being associated with excessive consumption, in 2021, Alibaba turned its focus towards sustainability by partnering with 14 brands to promote greener production.

Consumers are embracing more considered choices, too: over 33 million of them purchased eco-friendly products on Tmall and Taobao during the 2022 Singles’ Day sales8. Meanwhile, keyword searches for green topics including “energy-saving” and “low carbon” surged on JD.com9.

Singles’ Day Strategies to Focus on This Year

  • Do your research

To appeal to Chinese consumers, you need to know their buying behaviors and preferences. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you: dive into our dedicated China country guide for all the local insights you’ll need.

  • Optimize your e-commerce website for mobile

Mobile commerce dominates Singles’ Day, so ensure your customers have an easy, fast and intuitive experience – otherwise they’ll abandon their carts.

  • Translate your content

Ensure your website copy and marketing messaging is converted into the local language for foreign browsers.

  • Offer payment in Yuan

Provide payment options and gateways where transactions can be done in the Chinese currency.

  • Use the number 11 as a hook

Offering a 11% discount on sale items, for example, will show your brand is joining in the fun!

  • Offer fast shipping

Chinese consumers may be deterred from buying from overseas brands as they think their orders will be delayed. By partnering with DHL, you can offer customers Express international delivery. Just be sure to highlight it on your homepage to incentivize shoppers.

  • Monitor your inventory closely

If something sells out, you need to be ready to quickly pivot to promote another item instead.

The fun doesn’t stop after Singles’ Day! Peak Season is upon us, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas still to come too. For advice to help you prepare, check out our dedicated holiday shipping tips.

References

1 – Forbes , November 2022

2 – CNBC, November 2021

3 - Queue.it, September 2023

4 - Alibaba

5 - Tmall Global

6 - Queue.it, September 2023

7 - Digital Commerce, June 2022

8 & 9 - Queue.it, September 2023

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