Selling online

Your checklist

Prepare to sell online to EU markets

More and more companies in Scotland are now selling online to EU markets as a key element of their export plan. It allows them to reach a wider base of customers in their target EU market, and use a range of tools to convert interest in your product or service into real sales.

With 90% of sales being exported, Michael Corrigan, co-founder of innovative travel pillow company TRTL, shares his ambition and insights on how to grow a successful global business online. 

"Selling online has been a huge opportunity for us, " explains Michael. "That’s key for a brand like us because we can keep the brand communication with the customer as clean and as clear as possible."

To sell effectively online you need to ensure your website engages with your target EU market audience, and you are able to make transactions digitally. 

You also need to ensure you have the capacity and stock in place to undertake export online sales effectively to meet demand.

For EU market online sales, look to translate your website into the target market language. Or, if this is too expensive or you don’t have language skills in-house, translate a simple landing page and key words into the appropriate language. 

Also look to register a domain name in the target language – for example, .de for the German market and .fr for the French market.

Consider Euro price points that can go up on your website. But make sure these prices align and don’t undercut the prices your export partner may be selling your goods or services at in market. 

Also, ensure your website and any accompanying social media activity complies with EU law for online sales. Your terms and conditions of sale need to be clearly stated on your website, including your delivery terms and any refunds policy. 

Build your customer base online

The next stage is to build your customer base online. Your website address should be on your business card and any marketing or point of sale material you have in place for the EU market.

Using social media can be a very effective way of creating brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. It also allows you to engage with your customers and get immediate feedback on your product or service. 

Alongside more traditional forms of social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you might also consider using market influencers or bloggers in your target market to endorse your product or service.

Use online marketplaces

Another option for selling products is to register with an online marketplace which covers EU markets such as Amazon, Ebay or CDiscount in France.

The awareness and use of online marketplaces is growing rapidly across EU markets. It's critical you choose the marketplace with the best fit for your product. 

Online marketplaces allow companies to register their products on the site for either a listing fee or on a commission basis, and all sales transactions are processed by the market operator.  

However, you may achieve greater volume of sales in your EU markets through direct trade sales to retail outlets, either directly or through your export partner, rather than through individual consumer sales online. And note you'll still be responsible for dispatching the individual orders.  

You'll also have to cover the listings fee or marketplace commission in your pricing, and be able to manage demand for your product generated by the marketplace.  

Read our further hints and tips for selling online

  • Learn from experts at Scottish Enterprise's free ecommerce workshops
  • Have a plan for selling online into EU markets
  • Ideally ensure your prices are converted to Euros on your website
  • Be clear about postage and packing terms, delivery times and insurance on your website
  • Ensure you are compliant with online and distance selling legislation
  • Consider putting in place a trustmark or accreditation on your website to help encourage and reassure online customers

Get the right support and advice

Other resources to help you sell online in the EU include:

Discuss the EU opportunities for your business with one of our export advisers who will help you prepare and plan for selling online into EU markets – a free service for any company based in Scotland.

Contact us

Ask our export advisers about preparing an export plan.

Disclaimer

All information provided on this web page is for general guidance only. The contents of this guide have been provided by our training partners, Upper Quartile. Upper Quartile is not affiliated with any of the third parties or listings represented on our website. Third party listings are drawn from public domain and industry body data sources. Due diligence on a given third party or listing remains the exclusive responsibility of the end user. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the details represented, Upper Quartile and Scottish Enterprise cannot endorse, recommend or accept responsibility for any transactions conducted between the user and a given third party or listing provided on this web page.