There are still many myths and ambiguities surrounding cross-border e-commerce. It is true that expanding your online business to new markets is not the easiest thing to do, but it is also not the most difficult. With the right approach and preparation, it can be a huge success. 

Today, more and more e-commerce companies are seeking to expand for a very clear reason – to be more stable by getting incomes from 2-3-4 markets instead of Latvia alone. 

The e-commerce specialists at MakesYouLocal show you how to turn difficult, expensive and pointless into achievable, affordable and rewarding.  All in 5 steps:

1. Choose a market!

Choosing the country you want to expand into is crucial. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of investing in markets without first doing a thorough analysis. Their shops are not properly prepared, they fail, and as a result, the owners not only lose money, but also the will to expand further. If it’s the very first expansion for you, we would recommend starting with Lithuania and Estonia, since all Batlic countries are very similar and if you are successful in Latvia, you already have huge chances to be successful in neighbouring countries. 

But here are some tips to think about:

2. Localise your shop.

Fully localising your online shop abroad is the second essential step to successful expansion. Why? 

Customers abroad, just like in Latvia, have their own shopping habits. They should not be underestimated. You should meet their expectations and thus win their trust. Remember one thing: try to understand what local customers would expect from the professional web shop? Would he/she expect professional translations, easy payments methods, local delivery methods, easy returns, local social media, local customer support etc? Probably yes. Otherwise, they will choose your competitors to place the orders. 

3. Ensure customer trust.

A foreign buyer should feel at home in our shop as in a local shop he knows and trusts. Trust is the key factor in whether or not a customer makes a purchase in the webshop. Now that we’ve taken care of the local language version of the website and added the necessary logistics and payment measures, here’s what else you need to do to build trust in a new market:

4. Create a strategy 

Once your shop is ready to enter a new market, it is essential to prepare a launch strategy. An effective strategy must include your fixed and variable costs, such as warehousing, shipping costs, customer service and returns. It is also essential to calculate how much you need to sell to be in profit. If you continuously monitor what works and what doesn’t, you can react quickly and make changes. But of course, first get the basics done (such as Adwords, Social media, newsletters etc) and later expand marketing channels according to the first results.

5. Be patient!

Expansion abroad is only possible with concrete plans and actions written out over time. And this takes time. Although we would all like to see immediate results, success is rarely achieved overnight. Building up customer awareness and interest in a brand or online shop is tedious work. Realistic expectations translated into defined marketing and optimisation activities will help accelerate the achievement of goals. The goals should be clearly defined and included in a schedule – necessarily with milestones marked accordingly. 

Whether you are experienced in cross-border trade or not, it is always a good idea to consult with a local e-commerce specialist who can tell you how they think your shop’s website works (and looks!) and what could be improved. Such a ‘local hero’ will help you deal with official matters – for example, with taxes – opening a bank account or registering a company abroad.

If you run an online shop and are thinking about expanding overseas, the specialists at MakesYouLocal are happy to help you prepare and succeed. 

Chatbots – an ordinary digital marketing solution or a tech bubble? The development of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies has allowed customer service tools such as chatbots, or chatter robots, to be on the upswing in the recent years. Such virtual assistants are a versatile solution for customer service in companies and public authorities of all sizes. Take the opportunity to find out about the industry trends and to chat with bots in Latvian at the business technology event RIGA COMM 2020 at Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre, October 15‒16.

We are currently at the height of the fourth industrial revolution, and virtual chat assistants are rapidly becoming as self-evident and integral part of the reality of life as cell phones or social networks. By 2024, the chatbot market share is expected to grow by 30% .

Kaspars Kauliņš, International Business Development Director at the Baltic Language Technology Research Centre Tilde, points out that this rapid growth of the industry is determined not only by user demand, but also by improving productivity and efficiency: “People appreciate the possibility of receiving useful information and virtual services at any time of the day via a convenient channel and in a perceptible format – text, voice, image – and without wasting time.”

From an organizational perspective, a virtual assistant is able to perform monotonous tasks, including answering frequently asked questions, allowing employees to focus on tasks with greater added value. Everyone is the winner ‒ customers, employees and business as a whole ‒ and this motivates companies to invest in these technologies.

No euphoria ‒ it is the right time to invest in chatbots!

The general enthusiasm and exaggerated euphoria about chatter robots, or chatbots, is over for some time, tells Aldis Ērglis, a head of the Machine Learning Lab at Emergn: “We see chatter robots here and there, but they are nothing special yet. We can still talk about their promised intelligence and benefits to business in the future tense. The COVID pandemic is likely to change this and chat robots will be given a second chance.”

Today, many businesses and people are working remotely; more services are being consumed remotely than in the past. If you have to choose not to receive any information or help, or to cooperate with awkward and unadapted chatter robots, people will choose chatbots. A. Ērglis believes that it is the right time to invest in the development of chatbots now; they do not have to be very smart, they simply have to be able to respond promptly to most commonly asked questions.

Tet’s virtual client assistant gets a voice

The technology and entertainment company Tet offers contemporary and accessible artificial intelligence based customer support solutions to companies that care about their clients and efficient resource planning. In company’s stand at RIGA COMM 2020, visitors will have an opportunity not only to find out about effective solutions for business and receive expert advice, but also to acquaint with the new speech synthesis project. Thanks to this, Anete, a virtual client assistant, will start talking.

Tilde’s virtual assistants help public authorities

Virtual assistants and intelligent chatbots developed by Tilde, the leading technology localization company in the Baltics, operate in all communication channels and are equipped with the latest algorithm for understanding the Baltic languages. The company’s chatbots provide answers to more than 4000 users every day: the virtual assistant Signe by 20% eases the workload of the customer service staff at the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre, while the 24/7 virtual assistant Toms of the State Revenue Service advises residents on tax and customs issues, shares recipes and tells jokes. Following declaration of a state of emergency, Ieva, a digital consultant at the Rural Support Service of Latvia, shared the most up-to-date information with farmers, helping to solve problems and receive consultations that would otherwise require a face-to-face meeting.

By the way, Kaspars Kauliņš, International Business Development Director at Tilde, will talk about language technology in intelligent process automation at the RIGA COMM Machine Learning Conference on October 15.

RIGA COMM is an annual business technology event in the Baltic States where developers and suppliers of enterprise resource management, document management, HRM and security systems, suppliers of cloud services, internet and digital marketing services, web solutions and mobile application developers, and ICT product manufacturers offer ready-to-use and tailored solutions for companies in different industries and of different sizes, municipal authorities and organisations to facilitate efficient operation.

The technology-rich exhibition is complemented by an extensive conference programme. In two days, more than 80 lecturers will speak from four stages in at least six events. In recent years, the RIGA COMM business technology event has been attended by approximately 5000 managers at different levels and professionals from Latvia and the rest of the Baltics.

RIGA COMM is held by the International Exhibition Company BT 1 in cooperation with Intelligent Machines Riga, Riga TechGirls, SmartHR Latvija, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mailigen, Finance Latvia Association and other partners.

Tickets to the RIGA COMM business event are available online, or at the box office. Ticket price will increase as the event approaches.

Venue and opening hours:

Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre (Ķīpsalas iela 8, Rīga)
15 October 10.00–17.00
16 October 10.00–17.00

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