Breaking into International Markets: 3 Apps You Should Know About

 

If you’re looking to expand your business, breaking into unchartered territory can lead to untold opportunities. As we’ve covered before, consumers are beginning to rely on their smartphones for all their shopping needs. This becomes even more important to note once you start crossing borders. China’s mobile commerce market has completely eclipsed the US market with mobile sales outnumbering US’s by 450%. Chinese mobile commerce transactions are projected to hit 71.5 percent of all online retail by 2019.

Similarly, India – #2 on A.T. Kearney’s 2016 Global Retail Development Index – is an incredibly digitally inclined market as well with 20-25% of total retail spending being done online. It is predicted that by 2020, upwards of 250 million Indian consumers will shop online, compared to the 90 million currently.

These numbers paint a very clear picture: the best (and easiest) way to build your business’ international reach is through ever-evolving mobile technology. Below are a few examples of companies taking the mobile commerce world by storm and helping consumers and brands connect all over the world.

WeChat is the most popular mobile social network in China but its reach has far surpassed that. The app enables users to connect with each other in a multitude of ways, including online posts, voice, conference and group chats and more. WeChat reported 697 million monthly active users at the end of 2015, a 39% increase from the previous years.

WeChat’s groundbreaking infrastructure seamlessly integrates social networking and mobile commerce all within one app. Along with connecting with their friends and families, users can transfer funds to other users, make in-store payments, split the bill at a restaurant, hail a cab, order delivery, and the list goes on. Media outlets, celebrities and bloggers can have public accounts within the WeChat community that users can interact with. In 2012, WeChat opened up its platform for businesses to create their own official accounts.

As a result, WeChat has been making a major impact, especially within the world of fashion and beauty. Out of 100 leading cosmetic brands surveyed by US research company, L2 Inc., 96% of them were found to have WeChat accounts. In high-end department stores such as the one I previously worked at, the majority of sales associates conducted the entirety of their business, from clienteling to selling and everything in between, using WeChat as their main point of communication.

While many small businesses already use Facebook as part of their social media strategy, they may soon expect to get more bang for their buck. Many people balked at Facebook’s decision to break Messenger out of its main app, but it now has over 700 million users worldwide. Users of the new spin on an old app classic can now take advantage of features like sending money and making phone calls.

With Facebook testing out a new virtual assistant (currently only available in San Francisco), users are getting used to the idea of turning to the social networking giant as their one-stop-shop for both personal and business needs. In fact, Facebook now offers “Businesses on Messenger” to make it even easier to connect with consumers directly through the all-encompassing app. Businesses on Messenger will potentially shoppers to receive order notifications via instant message, or buy items directly through the messenger app. Facebook has already partnered with major retailers Zulily and Everlane.

Alibaba, the world’s leading platform for global trade can be defined as a marketplace, search engine, and bank all in one. While Alibaba may not be your first choice as a platform to sell your goods, its successes simply cannot be ignored. With their mobile commerce numbers getting stronger quarter after quarter, quite simply, Alibaba is crushing it.

Alibaba surpasses WeChat for transactions, averaging about 50 billion per day. Both platforms have emerged as China’s major facilitators for mobile commerce transactions, with users opting to use AliPay and WeChat Wallet in lieu of major credit cards.

 

Knowing when and where to reach your consumer is imperative to the success of your business. Companies are constantly evolving everyday, making this easier than ever. Whether it’s downloading an app, building a profile or sending out links, make sure you don’t miss out on potential shoppers by staying in the dark (technologically speaking)!