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How to Implement the Crawl, Walk, and Run Approach

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International eCommerce Planning & Execution

International eCommerce can be extremely expensive to develop in full beforehand. Therefore, the most effective way to build your international eCommerce business is by starting with a minimal capital expense. Then, you can utilize the increased profits and revenue for ongoing operating costs and further expansion.

The most optimal scenario would be to spread out the capital expenses into operating expenses slowly. So, you would only have to deal with small monthly costs rather than large capital expenditures upfront. Therefore, with international eCommerce, we recommend taking a "crawl, walk, run approach."

The Tried and True

So, What is the Crawl, Walk, Run Approach?

It means when you start to see some results, you can make more investments to improve. You can continue evaluating and adjusting as you scale into different markets and regions. For example, in the beginning, the only thing you should initially focus on is the shipping and fulfillment of orders. After that, you may start working on other aspects of your platform, such as translation. So that users can easily navigate and purchase items through your international eCommerce site.

Incorporating Industry Best Practices

Data-driven Decision Making

One of the most significant benefits of the crawl, walk, and run approach is that you have to make a relatively small investment upfront. Then you can start identifying the regions that are getting results. Analyzing the underlying data and using it to make your next move can help drive profitable results.

So, if you have this culture of data-driven decision making and scaling into specific regions, it is going to result in a profitable growth model overall. You can magnify growth with external or internal investment based on results.

It makes it easier to raise external funds, either through debt or equity, and then scale into something more efficient. Moreover, figuring out how to use cash that is on hand, whether through venture capital or private equity, becomes more manageable.

To conclude, this approach will allow you to validate your business model in particular regions at a much lower cost. Otherwise, you would have to spend heaps of cash on building the "perfect solution." Taking this route is a high risk because you may not get the desired results.

It's Time to Advance to The Next Step

Shifting from Crawl to Walk

One of the most challenging aspects of this approach is going from crawling to walking. It should generally happen when your platform starts to get significant traffic and results.

The things you need to do for the "walking" stage include: You have to look into setting up actual distribution within a region. It is necessary to eliminate some of the overhead from shipping overseas. The platform should provide accurate and detailed translations and seamless currency conversions. So, instead of using Google translate, you should get everything on your platform manually translated. The product and category data, different labels, and the overall user interface should match the dialect of the targeted region.

However, you do not have to shift from the crawl to walk for all regions at the same time. You can set up distribution centers only for particular successful areas. Even translation experts can be hired to translate specific languages common in popular regions.

Again, you need to analyze the results before you determine profitable regions. After that, you may only focus on the regions that are getting the most results for the same amount of investment. This way, you can optimize your expenses and improve what is already going well. Similarly, you can make changes or reduce costs on what seems to be not working in your favor.

So, you can always iterate and try something new in the regions where your business may still be in the "crawl" or low investment stage. It is always a better idea to tweak and iterate small operating expenses, as opposed to massive capital expenses.

Learning How to Run

The "Running" Stage

Finally, the "running" stage involves putting in a significant, and possibly ongoing, investment into a region. Whenever it makes sense to shift to that stage, the first thing you need to do is focus on organic and local SEO. After that, you can work on other low-cost strategies such as retargeting and marketing via transactional emails, referral programs, rewards programs, etc.

You may also improve the translation of the site further. Get into the nuances of the region's language and culture and ensure the overall site content is reflective of that region. At this stage, it would make sense to invest very heavily in the region. You can get into a high level of fidelity with the content translations, imagery, and the overall presentation of your platform.

The end result should match the standard level of detail expected for a particular region. Everything- from the content and language to the presentation and branding- should be optimized according to the region.

Again, thanks to the crawl, walk, and run approach, you do not have to do this for every region. As you begin to generate cash flow and profitability for a region, you can scale into it. You can then work on growing that profitability and scale your business in the region further. It should mainly be a constant and never-ending improvement cycle where you make changes and test them on low investment regions. Once you notice improvements in the region, you can build out distribution partnerships, set up more robust translations and currency conversions, etc. Finally, when it makes sense, you can fully immerse your business in that region.

How Clarity can Help

Clarity International eCommerce Experts

To conclude, when you are evaluating all the international eCommerce solutions, it is essential to consider whether it can support all these capabilities. Will it enable your business to start small yet function effectively as an international eCommerce platform? Does it allow you to improve on your business according to the current needs incrementally? Fortunately, the team at Clarity discusses the concept of the crawl, walk, and run with every international eCommerce client.

If you have any more questions related to this topic, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team. They can provide a complimentary analysis. Or answer any questions about the next step in the process of expanding your eCommerce platform internationally. We certainly look forward to answering your question and talking with you about your upcoming international eCommerce project. As you plan how to expand your eCommerce platform internationally, we encourage you to go through the resources below. Some of these can be helpful for your project.

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