In this episode of Ask Jana, we welcome you to the captivating world of international customer service and market research, two pivotal pillars of success for Amazon sellers venturing into global territories. Jana answers questions about the profound impact of international customer service, and sheds light on why market research holds paramount importance. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of these critical aspects, equipping you with the knowledge to thrive in the ever-expanding realm of global commerce.
Why is Market Research Important?
According to Investopedia, market research allows sellers to evaluate the feasibility of a new product or service through research conducted with potential customers. It also allows sellers to identify their exact target market to get opinions and feedback on their interest in a product or service. Before jumping into new waters for your product, market research is a crucial step, for it will help you gauge your potential success in new marketplaces. We’ve heard stories of perfectly optimized listings – PPC, product images, keywords, you name it – that failed miserably in new markets, because the market research was lacking in thoroughness.
Jana goes deep into the intricacies of market research, how to go about it, and how to conduct it successfully.
- Market Research: A Compass for Success: Market research serves as a guiding compass for Amazon sellers seeking to expand their footprint internationally. By conducting thorough market research, you gain invaluable insights into your target audience, competition, and market trends. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions, reduce risks, and capitalize on lucrative opportunities. Forbes notes that many business sellers choose not to conduct market research because it’s a cost that doesn’t directly result in revenue, but without full awareness of who your competitors are and what your consumer wants, you can’t expect to be successful.
- Identifying Market Demand: Effective market research enables you to identify and understand the demand for your products in different regions. By analyzing factors such as sales data, trends, and consumer preferences, you can gauge the potential success of your offerings in specific markets. This knowledge allows you to tailor your strategies and offerings to meet the needs of your target audience, increasing your chances of capturing market share. Jana recommends starting with Helium 10’s Black Box, and exploring the sales of your competitors in your chosen country. Then heading over to Product Opportunity Explorer in Seller Central and checking which products have good trends. How much profit is your competitor making? How much revenue? Then ask yourself if that revenue makes sense for your profit margins. Check as well which of the top competitors have expanded internationally. If no competitor in your category has expanded to other marketplaces yet, you might want to rethink your expansion strategy.
- Mitigating Risks: Market research acts as a shield against potential risks and pitfalls. By studying your competitors and market saturation levels, you can assess the viability of entering a specific market. Understanding the competitive landscape helps you develop strategies to differentiate your brand, identify gaps in the market, and position yourself for success. Jana even recommends going to Facebook expat groups and creating a poll. This is a great venue to identify if people are into your product, if they can use it, and if they see a need for it. Use surveys and polls to give you “valuable, actionable answers that you can create something with” (check out QuestionPro’s advice in this article here).
- Optimizing Resources: Conducting market research aids in optimizing your resources effectively. By understanding the profitability and revenue potential of a market, you can allocate your budget, time, and efforts strategically. This targeted approach ensures that you focus your resources on markets with the highest potential returns, maximizing your chances of success. In other words, keep an eye on the bottom line. A product that’s doing well in Germany may not do as well in Japan. Market research will help you answer these inquiries, and help you allocate your budget better. If you’re really set on expanding to Japan, you might want to put up a poll or survey that asks your ideal Japanese consumer why they don’t resonate with the product, and what about the product needs changing in order for it to cater better to the Japanese customer.
Then, there’s also YLT’s AMOR, which eliminates the guesswork by providing comprehensive insights and analysis tailored to your specific needs. With AMOR, you can make data-driven decisions and increase your chances of success in international markets.
International Customer Service: Elevating Your Brand’s Global Presence
Customer service on Amazon is tricky, especially since communication channels with customers are limited due to Amazon’s terms of service. Customer service plays a pivotal role in differentiating your brand from competitors. By delivering outstanding support in your customers’ native language, you demonstrate a commitment to their satisfaction and build trust. As Jana says, “Customer service is so important; it is what makes your brand stand out from the others.” Let’s say you speak English as your first language, but you’re selling in markets where you don’t speak the language. How will you continue to service your customers’ needs given the language barrier? Jana has some tips.
- Templated answers for common questions: To efficiently handle customer inquiries, create templated answers for frequently asked questions. These templates can be translated for different languages, allowing you to provide consistent and prompt responses. This is an excellent solution for common questions about size, fit, etc. – you can run your templated answers through a translator, then have those on file to copy-paste when the need should arise.
- Native language support for new questions: For new or unique questions that require a personalized touch, it’s crucial to have someone native to the target market handle them. This ensures that your brand’s tone and manner align with the local culture and effectively address customer needs. Remember, only 6% of the world’s population are native English speakers, and 75% of people don’t speak English at all. (Cochrane.org) “If you (communicate with) someone in their native language, if they understand your response, they’ll appreciate that,” Jana comments.
- Avoid relying on automated translations: Avoid using tools like Google Translate for customer service responses, especially in Q&A sections on Amazon. Automated translations can lead to misunderstandings and negatively impact the customer experience. Translation errors can lead to confusion, which can lead to a lack of understanding – and when a customer doesn’t understand what a brand is trying to say, they’re less likely to develop a relationship with that brand. “The customer gets confused because they don’t understand what you’re trying to say,” Jana points out. “(Conversely) once a customer understands the brand fully, they’re more likely to buy.”
- Packaging and imagery: Tailor your packaging and product imagery to the target culture’s language. When consumers see your brand presented in their native language, they feel a stronger connection and understanding. This localization helps your brand stand out and increases the likelihood of a purchase. (For more information on the best practices in Amazon infographics, check out our blog here!)
International customer service and market research are two vital elements that underpin the success of Amazon sellers expanding into global markets. Market research acts as a compass, enabling you to navigate through unfamiliar territories, identify opportunities, and mitigate risks. Meanwhile, international customer service, with its emphasis on cultural alignment, language proficiency, and personalized support, helps build a strong brand presence, foster customer loyalty, and drive business growth.
As you embark on your journey of international expansion, remember the significance of these pillars in shaping your brand’s destiny. Let market research be your compass, guiding you through uncharted territories, while international customer service becomes the bridge that connects you to customers around the world.
Hope that answers your questions on market research and international customer service! If you’ve got questions you’d like Jana to answer, let us know and we’ll see about featuring it in an upcoming blog!