Episodes > Season 3 Episode 8

We Make Websites

How to take your ecommerce business international

Alex O’Byrne, Founder & Managing Director @ We Make Websites

What's in this episode?

On this episode we’re chatting with Alex O’Byrne, Founder & Managing Director at We Make Websites.

Alex’s experience in founding and scaling an agency with more than 5 office locations lends itself perfectly to a discussion about taking a merchant’s store international. While the concept may seem simple, Alex shares his perspective on each of the major challenges to selling products in a different region of the world.

We tackle currency, shipping, taxes, language translation, and more and specific ways to overcome each obstacle so selling internationally can be as smooth as possible. Once we lay out all the blockers, we start breaking them down so your brand can have a clear road map for how to reach your goals.

So let’s get started!

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn. Check out We Make Websites.

Episode transcript

Chase Aldteron: On this episode, we're chatting with Alex O'Byrne Founder and Managing Director at We Make Websites. Alex's experience in founding and scaling an agency with more than five office locations lends itself perfectly to a discussion about taking a merchant store international. While the concept may seem simple, Alex shares his perspective on each of the major challenges to selling products in a different region of the world. We tap a currency, shipping, taxes, language translation, and more and specific ways to overcome each obstacle so selling internationally can be as smooth as possible. Once we lay out all the blockers, we start breaking them down so your brand can have a clear roadmap for how to reach your goals. So let's get started. Alex, thank you for joining us.

Alex O'Byrne: Thank you, Chase. It's a pleasure to be here.

Chase Aldteron: Tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about We Make Websites.

Alex O'Byrne: Okay. So I am Alex. I am the founder and now managing director of We Make Websites, which is a big Shopify Plus agencies. So we help some of the bigger or faster growing brands on Shopify Plus really get the most out of it. Start off in London. I now live in the US in Miami. We have officers in, well here in New York, in London, in Toronto, Vancouver, LA, Montreal. So all spread out all over the place. And the reason I say managing director now is, were actually part of born group, which is a much bigger agency now, which is part of Tech Mahindra. So that happened last year. So We Make has gone to the next level and still servicing the same brands and just providing a superior level of service. So that is the company. And then yeah, my background, I was originally a developer started the company about 10 years ago, building Shopify sites for all sorts of brands. And if it's being done on Shopify or can be done on Shopify or even can't be done on Shopify, we've normally done it at some point.

Chase Aldteron: Love to hear it and so many offices. That's pretty impressive being all over the world.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah.

Chase Aldteron: It's right on topic for what we're going to dig into today, which is internationalization. So a lot of what we're going to talk through is how to take your store from essentially one region to multiple. I think that you have a really cool story at We Make of how you started in London. You were looking at growing the business, was unsure how to do it and you were thinking, do we add more services? Do we have more locations? It's an interesting parallel how internationalization works in the first place. So I want to quickly tell that story of how We Make has grown and how you started to go international with yourselves.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So we've been building Shopify stores in London for years. The company started 2009, but I'd say we really got serious, like 2013. So for about five years, we were growing as one of the predominant European and UK Shopify agencies. And we were trying to figure out how to increase our revenue as an agency and grow and we came up with two options. One of them was add new services to start doing something new. Like for us, that might be like digital marketing, for example, or whether we should do the same thing, but elsewhere. So we decided that we would expand internationally and we had a short list of places around the world and decided that New York would be the easiest let's say than if I would call it easy in hindsight, but certainly the easiest of list.

Chase Aldteron: Sure.

Alex O'Byrne: So I came out to the US in 2018 and really just started from nothing. I remember walking around New York, just thinking, I don't know how we're ever going to do this, but pretty quickly we got a really solid team in place, which is all on agencies. It's just people. So we found the right people. Luckily we already had some clients there and that just snowballed. And our US team has grown hugely. And like I say, it was quite a big team in Canada now. So that's our tale of internationalization. And so I could definitely relate to some of the stresses of expanding internationally, but it's been worth it for us in the longrun. So yeah, and actually that's where our international expertise we realized was survival because being part of Europe as we were then UK, anyway, in the 2016.

Alex O'Byrne: We always had this idea of SI multiple currencies and multiple languages front of mind. And I found when I came to US, that was less common just because with size of the market, it's just enormous. And you could sell an US dollars and in English and not really worry about it for a long time. But over the top end, the brands are wanting to expand internationally and do it optimally, so localization, so that they're getting higher conversions in those markets and better customer experiences. So that's what we do.

Chase Aldteron: It's one of the biggest turn off I think is when you hit a landing page for whatever reason. And it says, I'm obviously in the US and it says, oh, buy this thing in pounds. You're like, well, I don't know how to convert that. I don't know how that works. What's going to happen here in the back end. So I think it's a super important detail that's often overlooked if you are going in into different markets. So let's start from the very beginning before we get into all the details here, why go international? What's the overall value?

Alex O'Byrne: So the big one is revenue growth that you're tapping into a new market with something that presumably you've got some traction with in another market. And if the market is similar, you would expect that it's quite an easy win to be able to be in those markets and generate revenue that way. So that's the big one. You also get access to new wholesale and retail opportunities. So if you enter a new market and then you can go to the distributors in those countries and say, actually, we've already got some traction as clearly demand. That can be a good way of expanding as a brand. And then I still think as well that there's a lot of prestige associated with being international so especially in industries like fashion. And we actually found that in our case, actually, that being in London and New York is quite common for businesses. So the fact that we were also there was worked in our favor. But I think as an online brand selling goods online, you also get a similar effect of... It's like brand positioning, I suppose, is what I'm saying.

Chase Aldteron: Totally. I think fashion is a perfect example of a vertical that works really well for that. If you look at brands that sell products outside of just the US or outside of just one country, really. If you can position yourself as like we're an international brand and we sell in Europe and we sell in Asia and we sell in the United States, it's a lot bigger of a field than just, oh yeah, we're a United States brand. So I think that's an interesting one that might not have a direct line to revenue or growth or anything like that. But it's that prestige is an interesting bullet point there.

Chase Aldteron: So let's hop into some challenges. I think that's the big focus of this podcast today of what we're going to talk through. It's very easy to just say, yes, we're going to go international and that's a buzzword and everyone's talking about it, but there's a lot of factors that may inhibit a brand from going international. So toss one out, lets talk through it. Let's maybe do like a pro and con of why it is something that you actually maybe want to tackle and maybe a way that we can kind of overcome that challenge.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So you mentioned currency already, and that is number one. That it is hard in so many ways to sell in different currencies. So there's a few ways of solving this. The most basic is you just shown indication of price on the front end of a site. The customer still checks out in the stores' currency like your currency of business, but at least they have an idea of what it's going to cost. Not the best, but it's quite a quick way of at least having a bit more of an international friendly store. Getting more advanced you can allow the customer to check out in their own currency. So some of the features in recharge and in Shopify allow you to do that with a single store. So you can actually let people check out in different currencies.

Alex O'Byrne: That's great, very slick, but the main downside there is you're not in full control of pricing because you're just using the FX rate, which you might need to be able to say, actually, this product is $20 in the US, but it's £18 in the UK and have that level of control rather than letting it be dictated by the FX rate. And the other thing is, if you've got a single store, you are not able to merchandise locally, which isn't exactly a currency problem, but it's something that you might want to do later on. So the more advanced version or most advanced version is you have a multi-store architecture, so you have a store for each region. So you often see that on stores, including Shopify, when it's like uk.brand.com or us.com. And that means you've got actual separate stores that are configured differently. So they'll probably connect to different checkouts processing the local currency. So in that example, US dollars and British Sterling.

Alex O'Byrne: And it also allows you to actually merchandise differently. And if the countries are different languages and you can also set up each thought, have different language too. So the way you set up your currency does affect a lot of other things as well. So those are the three levels. So indicative price charge in the customer's local price, if you can. And then the top level is actually being able to set a price in different regional store.

Alex O'Byrne: Just on the final one. The reason a lot of brands end up doing that, especially if they have wholesale agreements, is they've got to be able to say exactly what they're selling the product for. So if it's fluctuating each day, because you're just using an FX rate, but you've got wholesale agreements with retailers in those countries, they might get a bit upset if your product that's going below what they're charging in store. So the multi region approach is what we've been doing for most of our brands, I'd say.

Chase Aldteron: And I think that goes against one of the main value drivers of subscriptions in the first place, which is being able to kind of project your income or project your revenue over the period of months and quarters and years, whatever that is just because you know people are going to be subscribing. So if that price is constantly fluctuating, it's going to be really hard to project that revenue out and figure out what's going to happen in a few months.

Alex O'Byrne: Actually, that's a really good point. So FX rate, so the rates that you get between currencies. FX rate risk is something that is definitely very real with this. And it doesn't matter how you do it. You're going to have the risk somewhere. So in the case where you're just letting the checkout determine the FX rate, it's great. It's simple. And you are getting the FX rate on that day, but then you're accepting the risk there. Now, if you are paying for your suppliers in a different currency, then you've got a bit of an FX risk between what you're signed for and what you're receiving. In the multi-store approach, you might have the various checkouts going into bank accounts underlying that are in those currencies. You might have a Euro, USD, GBP bank accounts, which is great, but you still have the FX risk. There's suddenly one of those currencies tanks then you've effectively got less money than you did before. So that's definitely a thing. And I don't think there's a right answer, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

Chase Aldteron: Just one of those things that you know, that as you go international, there's going to be risks inherently. And this is just one of those things that there are ways to mitigate it, but there isn't necessarily, like you said a right answer, like this is the best practice for how to do it.

Alex O'Byrne: Yep. And a lot of it will depend on where your suppliers are and what currencies you're paying for them in and so on.

Chase Aldteron: So let's go into what I think is going to be your next potential hurdle to get over for multicurrency, which is shipping and suppliers. How does all of that play out? I know there's a couple different approaches there.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So shipping and related to that taxes actually are another extremely, even more sophisticated area. So the most simple way of shipping is you have your distribution center in the country you're in, and you're just exporting and that's where most brands start. And then you can work up from there to actually having local fulfillment centers once you have got a decent scale in those markets, and that has a lot of ramifications operationally. So for example, if you're shipping from one location, let's say in the US returns becomes a bit the headache if you're shipping stuff to Europe and people are wanting to return it are suddenly a lot of costs there. That you're having to think about your policy around rules, around exporting and tariffs and so on is a big thing. So also, so if you are shipping from the US, let's say in shipping into Europe, you need to be charging a VAT in those markets, So sales tax, and probably some import duty as well.

Alex O'Byrne: And there's a whole topic there go around who pays for the taxes. So like, do you charge on the checkout, your customer for the duties that you're expecting in that market? Or do you just ship it and then the customer basically deals with it on their end and they get a bill from customs for whatever the amount is. And if anyone is old enough on here to remember buying stuff on the Internet in the early days, if you bought like ban t-shirt from the US and it arrived, you might get a note from the postman saying, Hey, you also owe like $30 to the government basically.

Chase Aldteron: Which is probably more than what the product costs in the first place.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that's generally not the approach that you want to take, and instead you want to be using some technology and we checkout to calculate what it's going to be in that country price it in charge customer, and then you just pay the carrier that fee and they deal with it with the government. So that's duties. Tax is slightly different. So, like I say, VAT is what you charge going to Europe or in the US it's sales tax that you're pay in different states. And it's a bit like if you... A lot of brands will know by now that ever since Wayfair versus the State of South Dakota, I think it is. The ruling in 2018, which is that you have to pay a sales tax in states that you ship into. Ever since that ruling, it's become a bit of a headache for ecommerce.

Alex O'Byrne: Brands that have got a big customer base in different states.

Alex O'Byrne: Well, it's a similar of thing if you're selling international. So if you are shipping a lot of goods to the EU, you have to charge VAT to those customers and then remit that to those governments. So there's definitely an overhead there financially in terms of what you need to do to meet compliance. Just a small thing there that could save your audience a lot of time. And there is distinction between how tax is charged in the US and how it's charged pretty much everywhere else in the world. So when you buy something in the US, including in store, the sales tax is added at the checkout. Like it's added to the amount, and it's very much like a American way of looking at it. That's the government, that's nothing to do with business.

Alex O'Byrne: But in certainly in Europe, the sales tax is in the price. So if a product costs £100, that includes a 20% VAT in there, and the business pays that to the government. So it might be broken out on a checkout, so you can see it, but it doesn't alter the actual price of the audit reason. That's important is if you want to be optimized locally, you need to think about what your configuration is. So you might want your US store to be adding the sales tax at the checkout. Otherwise, effectively, your customer thinks the thing is more expensive it's going to be, because if it's $100 here and it gets to a checkout, but the store is configured in the EU way is still $100. Your customer's thinking, no, they're expected to be paying 110 here. So you want your US ones to be adding the tax on and then you want your international stores to be pricing in the tax with the actual purchase.

Chase Aldteron: So there's a ton there. I want to dig into a couple different things there. Most recently though, and I know we're going to touch on this in a little bit, but that sounds like it's just culture difference a little bit. And as you start to sell in different markets, there's a huge thing to be looking at is how do these customers want to receive this product? Want to even view the product? So like you said, if you're building tax in versus adding tax on at the end, it's just to different cultural thing. It's something I didn't even understand, because I don't obviously buy much from the UK, but that's something you have to be aware of as you start to kind of branch out and sell internationally.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So that very true. So cultural differences and language as well, of course, is different between different culture, even British English versus us English.

Chase Aldteron: Totally.

Alex O'Byrne: So on the nuance front, I think that comes down to things like, well, payments is a good thing. Sorry. Tax is a good example, but payments is another one which we can get into a bit more detail. But what payment methods are expected in different countries varies. Also you want to be able to merchandise differently for different regions. So depending on what you're sell, presumably there are sales and seasonality is around the year. That mean that you might want to merchandise differently. So an extreme example might be if you're selling fashion and you have summer on winter seasons, obviously they're the opposite way around in the Southern Hemisphere. So trying to have a different store, for an experience, the multi-store experience for each region should help with making sure the site is optimized for each of those regions. Language we should talk about a little bit, sorry.

Chase Aldteron: Right before we get in the language, I want to interrupt you real quick. So you're just talking like fashion's a perfect example. Like, Hey, here's our new sweatshirt line launching that in an April or may in the United States is thinking, this is totally backwards because we're coming into summer. I don't need these long sleeve heavy stuff. Whereas it's the absolute opposite, the other way around, that's exactly what Southern atmospheres are going to need. So it's not just to flip a switch, let's turn it on in Southern hemisphere lift. Like you have to essentially rebuild an entire store.

Alex O'Byrne: Exactly. And there's tons of different examples of that. Like if you've got something that's seasonal around, let's say people going to college or whatever those dates are different or national holidays. If you sell something that's gifted quite a lot, then just sometimes there are slightly different. So yeah, there's a lot to think about that. One of the interesting thing black Friday phenomenon is interesting because that we used to be a US thing because it's Thanksgiving. The Friday after Thanksgiving where everyone's sat around at home and wanting to buy the Christmas stuff. And it's an interesting anti example of something being exported. And now everyone seems to have black Friday, even countries without Thanksgiving have got at black Friday, like the UK. But yeah, generally having some awareness of what works locally is going to be important.

Chase Aldteron: I know we're moving pretty quickly. I do want to go back to taxes and shipping really quickly. Shipping is a really interesting one. Because I think you mentioned two big pieces there. One of them is just shipping internationally from a single shipping center. The example you gave was shipping in the US over to UK. Having local fulfillment centers and doing regional fulfillment centers also presents its other problem. Even though that seems like a good answer because now you just have to manage separate warehouses and separate shipping centers and you have to determine, okay, if you're ordering from this location, you have to figure out what's the close shipping center to that. And then you're still looking at international taxes and buying and all that stuff. So I think the theme of this is going to be just understand and be aware of everything that's going on. But is there any way to get around this? Like you might not have to pay customs front if you're shipping from one location, but now you're managing three or four potentially even more different shipping centers across the world.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So it is one of those things that even if the technology was perfect, it's still hard selling internationally, whichever way you look at it there's challenges. And I think figuring out the right solutions there, if you're moving stock around the world to different locations, that's quite a big thing to manage. And I think a lot of that to comes down to an optimization once you've proven scale that. So it's probably fine in the early days to be tolerating a slightly higher shipping fee because you're shipping stuff from the US and passing out onto a customer usually. And then as you can see this demand, you might decide to open distribution centers and then ship freight to those distribution centers. Then normally you also get a tax benefit there because you are not importing anymore. Well, you will pay that somewhere else, but you're not paying it at, at the point of purchase.

Alex O'Byrne: So after Brexit, some UK brands that were a bit biggest started using German distribution centers where they were shipping from the UK before because even though those distances, aren't very big in the scheme of things, it was just way simpler compliance wise and tax wise to be shipping stuff within German if you're like or within the EU. So yeah, complicated topic.

Chase Aldteron: Definitely complicated topic. And I think it's worth noting here that this is podcasting this episode in this conversation is more to just enlighten people and have them understand what's going on in this world. Because it's a lot harder to just jump into this and have this be slapping you in the face and figure out, oh, I didn't even think about all these things. So this is by no means to try to dissuade you from selling internationally. This is just an understanding of these are some of the hard truths and some of the realistic things that you have to deal with if you decide to go international. Let's talk back into language now let's keep moving forward. Any solutions to this language barrier or is it just different stores is what solves that.

Alex O'Byrne: Different stores is one you can use Shopify's multilingual API on a single store and that's getting more and more support from different apps as well. So that is another approach. The plans we work with would never be using automation for this. They would be actually going and writing copy in those different regions, maybe using an agency to write copy there because for most brands we work with tone of voice is important. So you can't just translate it willy-nilly. So that's the key thing, getting the content in on the store in a way that matches the ethos across different regions. You've also got to think about all the other different touch points. So all the different emails that are going out and confirmation pages and all these different parts of the site that a customer sees need to be translated to and customer service needs to be available in those languages as well, which is quite a big thing to find a multilingual customer service team.

Alex O'Byrne: So I think that's, again, a good example of even if the technology just did it all for you, there's quite a lot that still needs doing. So yeah, we tend to go the multi-store approach there with a different store for each region. An interesting thing there is how much you can share translations across different regions. So all of your English stores should be pulling from this same content and all your Canadian French and French thoughts could use the same translations potentially. So that gets a bit more into architecture again, as where is your content thought and how are you syncing that between the different stores?

Chase Aldteron: I know we're still right in the meat of this, but this is bringing up an idea that's been buzzwordy in ecommerce for a while, which is headless. Is there a way, I don't want to say silver bullet, but is headless an opportunity to where you have all of these different interfaces that you can pull on the backend in one way where you're talking like in English store and maybe a British store or using similar levels of English. So you don't necessarily need to totally redo every thing there.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So we've definitely done that. So using in the example, I'm thinking of, we had a Shopify store for each currency and then we had a Contentful instance that had every language in there. So English, UK English, and actually US English, we had as an option if the client wanted. Then we had French, German and all the other languages. And then the headless front end or the head of the front end, if you like, and maybe we should explain what headless is really. So headless is when the front end of the store is built in a different technology to the back end. So a Shopify theme is a monolithic approach where you have the same system rendering the front end to the customer as you're controlling the content in, whereas if headless the front end is built in different technology, so it might be more optimal for what you're trying to do.

Alex O'Byrne: So in this case, what we did was we built a front end that would pull in the translations from content for, and connect to the inventory and products and prices in Shopify. And then from that you've could end up with 20 or 30 different regions based on combinations of languages and currencies and so on. Including countries like the Netherlands and Canada, where you have two different languages. So you can actually have like both available plus the checkout and the relevant currency. So that's a good example of using headless to deliver a localized experience at scale, without having to build a different store every time.

Chase Aldteron: Again, though pros and cons you're building a lot more upfront and you have to build those pathways to make sure that everyone understands how you can connect everything on the front. It seems seamless not to use the same word, but there's a lot of work that goes into that. And obviously a lot of maintenance with a lot of headless builds.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah, the project took longer, I would say than a normal Shopify a project, but once it was live to add different regions became a lot quicker.

Chase Aldteron: Totally makes sense. And again, just doubling down on this fact that there is no one way to do this as you go international. There's obviously a lot of problems, a lot of opportunity as well, but it depends on your brand, depends on your philosophy. I think one of the things you said earlier, tone and voice is so important. And if you neglect any of these pieces, I would even argue on the marketing side, including tone and voice, it starts to feel not very genuine. And people start to see through that and then you start to have some problems.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah, I suppose a good way of thinking about it is what got you to where you are in your domestic market. And it's probably a combination of product positioning, slick customer experience and having a brand that resonates. So all those things are going to need to be done in those local markets to the same, or nearly the same degree.

Chase Aldteron: With the same type of culture in the home language and home currency and all those kinds of things. There's just so many levels that overlay this.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah.

Chase Aldteron: You brought up ship, I'm sorry. Not shipping. You brought up returns and customer service. Let's dive into that.

Alex O'Byrne: Okay. So returns are always a bit of a headache logistically even when you're just in one market, but suddenly you've got the prospect of having to get a customer to ship something internationally back to you. So that is another thing that you can mature once you get to the point of having local distribution, because it's a bit easier for someone to do that or cheaper anyway. So returns, like I say, always fairly difficult. What was your thing? Sorry.

Chase Aldteron: Customer service.

Alex O'Byrne: Customer service. Yeah. So that I think is one of the hardest things here, because a lot of the things I'm talking about are technology, architecture choices and so difficult, but at the end of the day, you just find the thing that works for you and get that set up and running. Customer service in different languages is an overhead just in turn of staff. And there are companies that can help with that. But I just think it means having a very clear strategy for personnel growth. Like is one thing saying let's just go and start selling in different market, but eventually you need a full plan to back that up and back up a success that you might see in those markets. And that might include like local hires or making sure that there is a budget for producing content in those markets and so on. So yeah, I don't have too much to say on that. Other than to say that it is something to keep in mind.

Chase Aldteron: Again, it seems like the theme is don't really have any specific suggestions because everything's going to depend on your brand and a lot of what you want to move on, but a lot of things to keep in mind.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah.

Chase Aldteron: Last, item on my list here, data protection and I think just data in general, that's obviously the big topic everyone's talking about now. How do you deal with data protection and regulations? It's difficult to do just in the US, just in one place. How do you do that across the world?

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. So it's hard and you're probably going to need a lawyer for the markets you want to sell in to. The big ones GDPR, really that the EU was the progressive force here in making clearer data protection laws that apply to its citizens. And the big ones for an ecommerce brand are that you can't just opt people in to your marketing and you can't block services because people haven't opted in. If you see what I mean. So you can't just say, Hey, sign up here and get with discount code without getting some sort of opt in. So in the US CCPA, which is the California Data Protection Act is similar in some ways, but a bit looser. So the customer flow, you need to look at, you also need to be able to allow anyone to do what's called a subject access request so they can see what you are storing about them and also a right to be forgotten or request to delete, which means anyone can email you and say, I want you to delete everything you've got about me. You've got to be able to do it.

Alex O'Byrne: So this has been around for a few years and it's some good solutions now. So for example, Shopify implementation for all their apps requires that every app has got a GDPR hook. So if someone requests right to be forgotten, that's triggered. But I think marketing flows is the main thing to think about when you're selling into EU. You don't want to fall out of compliance there by having some opt-in that isn't allowed. So again, want to get legal advice on, but something that's worth considering when you expand internationally transfer of data is another one actually that you have to be a bit careful what you move around where, so definitely one to again, look into in more detail. Generally, more of an operation one or not something you need too much technology for, but yeah, nonetheless, a challenge.

Chase Aldteron: More, just one of those check boxes to make sure that you have eyes on this and you understand what you're working for.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah.

Chase Aldteron: Got you. So there's obviously a lot of things to take into consider there. I want to take a crawl, walk, run approach, and start to ask you, what do you do if you are a brand who's just starting and wants to go international. Let's assume you've found product market fail. Let's assume you've done all that research and you think that whatever X, Y, Z market is a good opportunity to go into. What's the first one or two thing you need to do just to get off the ground?

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. Okay. So I think first of all, finding a market, hopefully if you've got a bit of traction, you might see in your GA or in your reports when you store where you're starting to get a few customers in foreign market. So that might be a good way of trying to figure out where to go first. And I think the basics are getting the currency. So charging the right currency. Language, if it ends up being a country that is different language and just making sure that the store is, oh, then shipping. Yeah. So making sure that you're shipping options have got specific ones for that region that are not terrible, not super expensive. And you may even decide that as part of or investment in that market, you'll tolerate a bit of a loss on shipping, for example, just to prove that the market is one that you can sell into.

Chase Aldteron: Little bit of proof of concept and [crosstalk 00:31:52] get some validations out there. Yeah.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. And then I think the next level, then you would, like I say, start optimizing by maybe having more local presence, which will make your operations more efficient and optimize further for those markets perhaps by having a separate store that sells into those markets.

Chase Aldteron: So then it's just duplication by replication where you think, okay. Cool. We've done those kinds of things. We have this market set, our second market's running, well, you put a fulfillment center in that area. You can start to optimize a little bit more then as you just rinse and repeat for your third, your fourth, whatever next regions you want to go into.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And you might find that you only need, let's say like a German distribution center to be able to sell into all the Western European countries, for example. But I think you're totally right. That it's just the case of finding a formula that works and a go to market plan. And I suppose we haven't really talked about marketing, but that plan also would factor into this. That what did you use to build up that traction in each of those markets? And then, like you say, building a bit of a formula there for doing that multiple times

Chase Aldteron: And there's that whole cultural debate there also is how do customers like to get their marketing? Is it online? Is it TV? Is it direct advertising, direct mail works in some locations, that's all just another one of those. Like you have to AB test and see what works.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. Yeah, totally. And related to that is the wholesale agreements and building up what out that way of having retailers in those markets, which sometimes comes first actually. So maybe you already have the international distributors and then you're thinking, wow, okay, we have a decent, customer base in Sweden. Let's say, and maybe we set up our DTC site there.

Chase Aldteron: Interesting. Hadn't thought about that. So once you start talking about scaling, we walked through obviously all of the different things to be aware of. So we kicked around what do you need to do to get off the ground? Maybe taking a crawl, walk, run approach. What are the kind of final things to do to be the fully worldwide operational? Would you advise bring a team in house? Would you advise, obviously you are probably biased being as an agency, but where are some of the optimization pieces you can really optimize? What are the pieces you can optimize to make sure that this is a smooth flowing function and not something that requires so much energy day-to-day?

Alex O'Byrne: So at that scale, normally you've got a store for each region that you want to sign to and then some replication between a store. So you're not having to literally manage 10 different stores that there's an element of reuse of content and configuration and so on. Same with deployments. So if you're making improvements to your theme, you are working with a technology theme, that's able to deploy to all those regions simultaneously and allow you to actually get from economies of scale rather than everything taking 10 times as long. I also think that in terms of optimizing in those areas, at that point, you've done everything. You've got the payments totally nailed for that payment and payment methods in each of those markets. You've got, well, taxes you need to do, whether it's optimized or not.

Alex O'Byrne: So you've got your compliance for it. You've got shipping in a way that is low cost and efficient. You've got your languages and translation done. You've got and including to of voice. And you've got customer service that can back it up as well and handle returns. And, of course, all on top of a betting of data protection compliance. So I think it's just a case that at that point I've been totally optimized in each region. And like I say, being able to offer a like for like service for what made you successful in your domestic market.

Chase Aldteron: So then when you look back on it from a macro perspective. Everything effectively is the same. You just have a little bit of details the change between stores, between cultures, whatever it is, but everything looks like the same experience. The customer experience works the same way as people go through it.

Alex O'Byrne: Yep.

Chase Aldteron: I don't know if I could have tied a bow better on it myself. That was pretty well done. Last question I have for you more of a personal question, what physical products do you subscribe to?

Alex O'Byrne: So I subscribe to dry farm wines, which is actually one of our clients and one of your clients too. And they do organic wine and they choose it for you and you get a delivery and you can choose like, do you want it every month? Every other month. So it's quite a nice thing. If you don't want to have too much booze in the house or you do, you could choose your level. And then it comes in a really nice presentation and they have an app as well. So you can look at the photograph for label and it will tell this wine goes with whatever food. So I've been really enjoying that because I don't like going in the store and trying to work out like what wine to buy. It's just nice to know someone's doing that. It's just going to arrive every month and then it we'll go over there and then I will be able to enjoy it.

Chase Aldteron: What an awesome improvement on the customer experience there being able to kind of scan the wine that they ship you and say, Hey, here's some food suggestions that you can pair with this wine.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah.

Chase Aldteron: Something that I think is one of those unique benefits that you don't get from buying in store.

Alex O'Byrne: Yeah. It's a really nice touch and yeah, we really enjoying it so far. You discover all these different wines and also you just don't have to think about going out to the store, just shows up every month. So you don't have to even think about that. So, yeah. I love it.

Chase Aldteron: I love it. Awesome. Alex, thank you so much for joining us.

Alex O'Byrne: Thanks Chase.

Chase Aldteron: We want to thank Alex once again for joining us. If you're interested in We Make Websites, you can head over to wemakewebsites.com.

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