Managing an Ecommerce business is nowadays a very popular dream profession for a lot of us, but you really need to prepare for a lot of different challenges if you are determined to follow this path. Even when you have managed to set up and run a successful online store, you can never silence that competitive dwarf talking to you every night before you fall asleep. You know you did good and your business is going well, but you can always do better. Like, for instance, you can enter other markets.
Bulgarian online stores who are only operating domestically are addressing to over 1 million online buyers out of a total of 1.5 million Internet users. Most of them like buying Fashion (71%), Toys (31%), Travel Services (21%), Tickets (21%) and Electronics (6%). The Average Order Value is around 72 BGN (37 EUR) and most orders are paid cash on delivery ( source: Bulgarian National Statistical Institute).
It doesn’t sound bad at all.
But what if you could start selling to a market that has almost 7 times more online shoppers and is rather easy to reach?
One of the very easy options for Bulgarian online stores is the Romanian market. This market has topped 1.4 billions euro last year (source: Gpec.ro), this figure excluding event tickets, plane tickets or travel packages, which, by the way, are all on the rise categories. Romania has about 11 million Internet users, out of which about 6.7 million are online shoppers. The Average Order Value for domestic orders is 40 euro and the highest sales levels were recorded in the IT&C, Fashion, Home&Deco and Children’s Products categories. The AOV in 2015 for the above categories are 557 RON (124 EUR), 150 RON (33 EUR), 261 RON (58 EUR)and respectively 189 RON (42 EUR) (source: 2Performant Network Stats).
Another reason why a Bulgarian online store should extend to Romania is the very fast and reliable shipping services that are available from certain companies.
Ok, so you already got excited about entering this neighboring market. But hold your horses and do not jump into it without considering these 5 very important things:
1. Reliable marketing channels – Affiliate Marketing with all the advantages
The concept is pretty simple: online marketers or publishers (affiliates) are promoting the stores’ products and they are paid by the latter a percent of each sale they are generating.
2Performant Network is one of the young but bold players in the Central and Eastern Europe that promotes marketing democracy: a place where everyone’s given equal chances, be it a big or a small advertiser, a blogger, an email marketing or a pay-per-click specialist.
One of the issues that most advertisers face when it comes to marketing is the lack of control over the channel. 2Performant decided to change that and it turned affiliate marketing into a totally controllable advertising channel. Thus, an advertiser is the almighty master of his own affiliate program:
- He decides the terms and conditions (the rules he wants his affiliates to follow in promoting his business)
- He decides which affiliates to accept and for how long and can also set customized terms/commissions for each one of them.
- He sets the commissions he wants to give and the cookie life
- He decides on what tools to use
By joining 2Performant Network, any Bulgarian store can choose to be promoted to several Central European Markets, especially to the Romanian one, where it has access to 47,000 affiliates.
2. Reliable shipping company
The list of important aspects in your online trading activity is long – interesting and desired product at a competitive price, good looking online store with multiple functionalities, good customer support both by e-mail and phone, safe packaging for all goods etc. Delivering your products to your client is as important as everything else in your online trading activity.
This is why working with reliable and effective shipping company is a MUST in the eCommerce business. They should be able to provide good coverage of the market, short delivery terms, of which clients are well aware, great software products by which they can save your time and minimise the possibility for mistakes. They should also be able to offer a variety of payment methods and of course popular client options for choosing, exchanging or returning of goods.
3. Customer service in Romanian language
Having a native speaker on the phone dealing with all the customer orders, questions or complaints is absolutely necessary if you want to build your brand and have regular audience for your online store. In some cases, stepping on a new market can be ‘pain in the neck’ with hiring new people with different cultural background that is hard for you to understand, dealing with local legislation that changes every single day and you that have to keep track of, registering a new company etc.
Sometimes having the right partner can save you lots of money, time and energy. Using shared services and outsourcing some of the corporate activities is a great relief and gives you the opportunity to deal with what you can do best – managing your business.
4. Optimisation and marketing according to the needs of the local market
There is nothing more annoying than a marketing campaign that is made for a different audience and later on is just translated to the language of the local market. Sometimes it is not understandable by the local people, sometimes it might bring the wrong message to your clients, but in most of the cases it sounds ridiculous and instead of grabbing someone’s attention you damage your brand’s name.
This is why having an experienced partner on the market you are aiming for is a very important element. Judge the company by how many previous campaigns and success stories they have instead of how many people work there or how shiny their offices are. Check their clients and success rates they have in the last few years instead of listening to their managers on how great they are.
5. Knowing and being prepared for the specifics of the market
Alexa is a great tool you can use to find your strongest competition. It works pretty well in Romania and you can see the rating of each online store you are interested in. Following the market leaders will guarantee you better performance.
The list above covers the most important issues you need to think out first. As an online store owner or marketer you should do your research and find out what are your best options and what are the exact steps to take – from legal to marketing aspects.
The first move you could make is to attend ”How to Be Successful in Romania”, an event organized by eCommerce Academy, in Rousse, Bulgaria. This is where you will find out:
- How to manage your Social Media channels for better results on the Romanian market
- How big the market is and how to penetrate it – advice from one of the well known players
- Why affiliate marketing will help you start out on the new market without substantial investment
- Which are the most used payment methods and services in Romania
- What are your options regarding shipping services and, without setting an office in Romania
Bulgarian Advertisers operating in 2Performant Network will be offered a 30% discount from the ticket’s price. All you have to do is insert the code 2Perf2016 in the comment field when making your registration to ecommercebg.com.
See you there! 🙂