Plan an Incremental Approach
Just like we mentioned before with building a physical location, then physical inventory, etc., many international marketplaces start by creating an online presence and enabling the ability to purchase in a particular region.
With this, you need to be able to translate the content and use the appropriate currency and payment providers that will work in that particular region with that currency. You’ll also need to manage taxes and handle the logistics of shipping across borders.
If you don’t have a logistics plan in place, then it will be challenging to operate in third-world countries that don’t have much established for logistics. You’ll need to assess this first. With a relatively small footprint of physical infrastructure and marketing activities, but a lot of analytical review and auditing, you can find out what’s performing well and what are good markets to invest in.
You can then reinforce any necessary physical infrastructure in those well-performing places. This can start with shared space in a distribution center, and then move to a dedicated distribution center, and then multiple distribution centers.
It’s important to take this incremental approach and constantly model what it would look like to get a certain threshold. Then you can plan where to get additional resources, and make those available for storage, distribution, logistics, etc., to fulfill the items.
Now, again, if you’re working with manufacturers and sellers who do the fulfillments themselves, you can coordinate with them to help them grow their fulfillment in these different regions.
So even if you’re not directly responsible for fulfillment, you’ll still benefit from an international marketplace business model by interacting with the vendors and making sure they understand what the opportunities are. You can even help create a joint venture or promotional opportunity for particular regions.
In a similar vein, as things continue to scale, you’ll want to invest resources incrementally based on certain thresholds on the marketing side, including the branding and content. That way, you can establish a unique presence within each country and region.
You can also look at the GEO IP or where someone specified their location to be, and cater the content, branding, presentation style, and overall experience with the marketplace eCommerce platform to match what someone would be used to in that particular location.