Notes from Australia

Would relocating damage my ecommerce business?

When I met my English husband-to-be seven years ago, he had relocated to Melbourne, Australia. At the time, I lived in Sydney, roughly 540 miles (870 km) north of Melbourne. My mother lived on the Gold Coast, in Queensland, 540 miles (840 km) north of Sydney.

On moving to Melbourne, I was easily able to relocate my ecommerce business, which sold hardbound and emailed astrology reports, boxed gift certificates, and telephone consultations.

That business, It’s In The Stars, I closed in June 2014. I then launched My Wedding Décor in April 2015, and My Event Décor in January 2017. Both were inspired by my experiences planning my own wedding

Recently my husband and I have seen our mothers’ health deteriorate. We are considering relocating to Queensland, near my mother, or to England, where my mother-in-law lives.

But there are challenges. Here are some I have been assessing, below. Please share your views in the comments.

Challenges of relocating

Change of location. I am familiar with the Gold Coast. Its main industry is tourism, much like Florida — and is a frequent location for weddings and corporate functions.

I know most of its hotels. I have a sizeable number of customers in Queensland. My Australia-based company status operates nationwide, so relocating within the country wouldn’t be a challenge from a paperwork point of view.

But what if I set up shop in England? I have no contacts, no customers, no company, and no visa to operate there. I would have to start all over again with a new website address. Relocating to England effectively means the loss of my businesses.

Possible change of product offering. I could retain most of my suppliers and look for new ones on the Gold Coast. Australian weddings and corporate functions are similar in terms of décor trends, with marginal differences depending on local tastes. In terms of themed event-décor products, I would need to add more beach-related décor to cater to demand.

If we were to move to England, I would need to do my homework on what consumers prefer. Historic Chester (near Manchester), where my mother-in-law lives, would presumably have different event-décor needs compared to London, where my two sisters-in-law live.

Search engine optimization. If your website serves consumers in a specific city, state, or region, you will likely have built up invaluable geographic search phrases. By relocating, you have to start over.

I have good online penetration into the Melbourne event market. I would need to promote my businesses from scratch if we relocated to the Gold Coast.

My web developer would need to create a new SEO strategy for both locations, the Gold Coast and England.

Currency. The Australian dollar is the same nationwide. So it would make no difference moving to the Gold Coast.

However, in England I would have to (a) price products in British pounds, (b) set up a bank account and a merchant account to receive online payments, and (c) establish local tax payments.

Deliveries. Compared to the 60-mile (97 km) expanse of Melbourne, the Gold Coast occupies a narrow 35-mile (56 km) area of coastline. Many Gold Coast suppliers therefore also service Brisbane, which is 48 miles (78km) north.

However, Brisbane is the largest of Australia’s six capital cities by geographic area, occupying about 440 square miles (1,140 square km).

But Brisbane pales in comparison to greater London, which encompasses 611 square miles (1,583 square km). Chester, near Manchester, is a much more manageable area of 173 square miles (448 square km).

I would restrict my own rental deliveries to the Gold Coast (or Chester, England), and perhaps merely sell décor — not rent — if we moved to London.

Loss of customers. My rental category now accounts for three-quarters of my revenue. Much of this is Melbourne-based.

By relocating, these items would become available on the Gold Coast, but not in Melbourne where I have repeat customers. I could anticipate a loss of customers and revenue.

Assuming I was even allowed to operate an online business in England, it could take a year to find new suppliers and launch my business and website with the required paperwork. I would then have to attract new customers.

I am hoping we do not have to relocate at all. I want to stay in Melbourne.

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