For the passing weeks, we have been discussing a general framework meant to help you simplify your approach to cross-border operations. In the first part of this series, we showcased some of the advantages and uncertainties an online e-commerce manager has identified in his pursuit of international growth. Part two, shone light on how to approach the necessary tools to answer each uncertainty in such a way that the company's efforts are maximised. In this last chapter, we explain the importance of setting and monitoring the company’s international strategy, independently from your domestic efforts. In any business, good planning and strategy make the difference between losing and winning. International expansion makes no exception to this rule.
As you are most probably aware, most terms encountered in business planning are derived from military operations. In case you have not previously thought of why this is, the answer is quite simple: the business landscape resembles warfare. Companies find themselves at war for the attention, money and loyalty of their customers. In order to be victorious, they need to equip themselves with strategies that differentiate upon their expertise and that position them among the leaders in the market of their choice.
Borrowing from the tactics that the military employs: understanding the market in which they operate, surveying the competitive landscape and agile planning, bring businesses one step closer to success. Setting targets and reviewing them regularly renders any organisation with the power of stirring its growth course and a great chance of emerging as the victor in its pursuits of attaining a bigger market share.
While all those concepts apply to both international and domestic operations, the difference comes from the frequency with which organisations review their international milestones. The reason for this being that uncharted territories present a higher operational risk than known markets.
For the purpose of this argument we set out to illustrate the benefits of agile planning, in cross-border last mile operations, by carrying forward the context set by uncertainty#3 in the first part of this series.
You have made it! You have laid out the plan for your cross-border operations and successfully launched operations in three new markets of your choosing. Your marketing efforts drive the demand towards your online store and your product offerings. Wanting to reduce the associated risk of cross-border, you have chosen to integrate with Postis and dispatch by parcel in all three markets.
Everything is great and orders storm out of your local warehouse towards your domestic and foreign customers. After the initial enthusiasm and hype of launching internationally has passed, you decide to sit down and review how your efforts translate into the overall business growth you forecasted. Despite your rigorous planning, your company does not meet the operational goals for the time you find yourself at. You want to understand how this is possible, with all the orders you have been shipping. Luckily for you, the integration with Postis has enabled you with a series of performance reports that help you dig deeper into what causes this outcome. You quickly discover that out of the three markets, only one is a perfect match for dispatch by parcel model you have chosen for your last mile efforts. In the other two, the situation is a bit different, as both markets drive the majority of orders and this dispatch model drives unreasonable costs for your operations.
By deep diving into the power of Postis statistics and visual dashboards, you understand that market#2 generates more orders than your predictions, however the spikes do not have a clear predictable pattern and the frequency with which this occurs is different from MoM. Due to this market’s morphology and the KPIs provided by the integration with our last mile SaaS platform, you are able to test a new operational model for market#2: direct injection.
Furthermore, you realise that market#3 is in a somewhat similar position, with the sole difference that orders are storming in, but with a generally lower NPS than both other markets. Another particularity of market#3 is that the buying power of consumers is bigger than the rest of the markets you now operate in, and there is huge strategic potential for your product offering in this market. Wanting to understand your low NPS for this market, you carefully read your customer’s feedback in the section with the same name in Postis’ platform. You soon discover that some of the issues raised by your clientele is that 1) their orders are arriving generally late, despite your efforts to dispatch the parcels on an immediate basis and 2) your clientele wants a broader product offering than the one you have used to test the market. Luckily for you, your domestic market has more variety that, in part, could be shifted towards market#3.
This quickly promoted you with a new solution to your initial expedition model: start understanding your localisation options and essential requirements for dispatch by warehouse model in market#3.
By integrating with Postis, you have allowed your company to monitor its cross-border operations strategy at the time of your choosing, and thus you have leveraged the power of agile resource allocation to strengthen your position in markets#2 and #3.
To recap the essence of this last chapter, when tackling international expansion, make sure you build upon your current company’s strengths and start small in the new markets of choice. Furthermore, allocate a considerable amount of energy to plan, prepare, operate and review your strategy. Remember, having a flexible outlook on strategy will set you up for success.
If you are curious to find out more about how Postis can help you expand your local operations don’t hesitate to write to email@example.com.