How do I grow my US business using e-commerce?

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How do I grow my US business using e-commerce?

  • e-commerce, export, US growth, US Market

At this well-attended event, DABF members and guests got a variety of perspectives on how to improve the way they sell online to the US and beyond. We had an impressive record of 9 speakers on the program, including 2 fantastic and very different company cases: Airtame and Maileg.

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The event was kindly hosted by IIH Nordic in their light and beautiful office space and conference room

From Niels Preysz, Head of Projects at  FDIH Foreningen for Dansk Internethandel (The Danish E-commerce Association), we got an introduction to the growth of e-commerce in Denmark, Europe and US. A few examples of the learnings:

  • Danish companies are no. 3 in Europe in online sales, with 27 % selling online, but only 13% selling to countries outside Denmark – this means there is room for improvement!
  • The B2B e-commerce market is going to be twice the size of the B2C by 2020
  • B2B shoppers are looking for digital interaction, time and cost savings with a smooth digital process, a quick and flexible order process, and a 100% transparent level of information

Next we learned from Sofie Hermansen, Head of Content, and Martin Trasmundi, Senior Digital Business Manager, IIH Nordic, about how to target the US with online advertising, content and social media, to be sure that the right target group sees your ecommerce site. Their first point was that today 67% of the buyers journey is done digitally, which means that it is crucial for businesses to make smart decisions when it comes to digital marketing. A few of their many well-illustrated points were:

  • Remember people are filling needs, not searching for products: show your audience the experience they’ll get, not the features and functions
  • Find your niche: Many big companies are not losing share to other big companies, but to small players who have really found their niche. Find your key value proposition and consider how to make your company stand out from the crowd. Remember that the US market is huge and the competition is fierce!  With clear targeting you can ensure you use your money wisely
  • Take the differences between US and Denmark into account: First of all, keep in mind the time difference when planning your campaigns. Also, the US is a (much) bigger country than Denmark, so you might want to focus your campaigns more locally, rather than targeting all states at once. Finally, note what it means for your advertising and tracking that the US Google algorithm is different from the Danish version
  • Think mobile into your strategy: 40% of consumers search for products via their mobile, and more than 50% of Facebook and YouTube users are only logging onto Facebook via their mobile. Often people will move their desktop when they want to make a purchase, but that is changing rapidly, so be sure to plan for mobile NOW.
e-commerce

Show consumers how you’ll meet their needs.

Thirdly, Steffen Hedebrandt, Head of Marketing at Airtame, talked about how the company increased monthly turnover 7x by using Amazon to identify, harvest, and direct American customers’ goodwill. Some of his key points were that:

  • Today, the review economy is growing by the minute. it’s almost like you are being rude to customers when you DON’T ask for their review and feedback – is more and more expected these days. Good reviews have been proven to drive revenue for Airtame. Airtame created customer goodwill by caring about every single customers’ opinion. If you ask people to review, you must make sure to react accordingly
  • You need to harvest the good reviews by building a system that identifies happy users and direct their goodwill towards an online action (e.g. create an Amazon review). Needless to say, if you get a bad review, you must make sure that the customer gets the relevant help or guidance quickly.
  • Retargetting is critical – it’s a form of online advertising that helps keep your brand in front of potential customers after they’ve viewed your site – very important to use it

After a short break with refreshments, networking and snacks, we learned from Lars Jul Andersen, President and Hanne Andersen, Sales Director in Maileg USA, about how they set up their e-commerce in the US to help consumers who were frustrated by not being able to find a retail shop nearby. When establishing your B2C setup, Lars and Hanne would advise you to:

  • Make it easy for yourself by ensuring a good platform, including integrated solutions when it comes to accounting, payment, shipping, Q/C, returns, customer service, and analyzing tools. They, like many others, use Shopify and find it super simple to use, even for non-digital people.
  • Make it easy for your customer by ensuring that it’s easy to find you, your product descriptions and pictures are clear, you offer free shipping and different shipping options, free returns, gift packages and special messages.
  • Remember that your US customers will expect your service 24/7 365.
Next, Partner at Hutchinson and Bloodgood LLP, California, Hanne LeLoup, provided a brief overview of sales tax rules and what can trigger sales tax “nexus” for e-commerce.
  • A sales tax is a transaction tax imposed on intrastate retail transactions. It is calculated as a percentage of the price paid for taxable goods and services. Nexus literally means “connection,” and having nexus means that a company has sufficient contacts or presence within a jurisdiction to make it subject to that jurisdiction’s tax laws.  They key is to avoid nexus, which is tough to do – even having backlinks from a website in another state, to your e-commerce site, can be legally seen as “click-through nexus” meaning you have a physical presence in that state, and you will need to charge sales tax
  • Every state is different and use their own rates and rules for sales tax. Therefore, you should monitor your sales and activity by state and understand where your business really is
  • Note that the rules change – what is true today, may not be the case tomorrow. Seek guidance when in doubt.

Finally, Thomas Krøyer, Group CEO, and Jay Frank, Business Development Manager, Logistics at Leman Transport taught us about what happens “behind the e-commerce curtain” from the perspective of a logistics service provider.  Leman began originally in Denmark and has helped Danish companies grow in US since the 1970’s, Stelton being a good example, where they help with everything that happens between production and final sale.  When you choose a warehouse and distribution assistance, you must be sure to evaluate them carefully:  things like warehouse condition (for example, humidity); warehouse staff quality; size of minimum order; ability to pick and pack; ability to do Web Portal Orders (build a digital bridge to your website), EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) to ease exchange of documents with the large retailers; pricing models, and much more.

There were many more details from all speakers, and great Q&A discussions, so we hope you can join us next time! Participants received the full presentations from the session. If you are a DABF member and would like this information, just let us know at business@dabf.dk!

See link to the event agenda here.

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