Technology has catapulted the footprints of even the tiniest stores into the realm of worldwide recognition. Gone are the days when you needed to be in the Fortune 500 before you could expect to garner sales from around the globe. These days, even the smallest ecommerce stores can expand their opportunities exponentially simply by taking a few simple steps.
Set your goals and make a plan.
No endeavor worth its salt can succeed without a blueprint that maps its trajectory, predicts challenges, and arrives at potential solutions. Careful forethought will be the foundation upon which your solid, multinational enterprise is built. To that end, take the following steps as you design your framework.
- Identify and evaluate your target markets. Unless you have a clear and accurate idea of who you will be selling to, you can’t possibly succeed. So, be sure to leverage the analytics tools that you already have in place to view your existing pool of international customers. Ask yourself who they are, where they are from, and what products they buy. This will provide a small kernel of knowledge that can grow into country-specific sales strategies.
- Leverage resources such as the Small Business Administration, which offers tools and templates that you can use to identify markets and determine your pricing.
- Work to develop your target markets by conducting research. Pay special attention to locations where there is strong demand for your products and services. Focus on nation-specific buying behaviors and trends, as well as local barriers to purchasing.
Expand your payments landscape.
If you intend to do business outside of your home country, it makes sense to accept international payments in some capacity. During the checkout process is when many buyers from abroad abandon their shopping carts, either because they do not see their own local currency on offer, or because they mistrust the security of the payments platform. For that reason, you should take time to thoroughly research the preferred currencies of your local buyers, and do your best to provide them.
Most international payment gateway providers will allow you to offer a selection of currency options that are familiar to your global customers. However, you’ll want to devote time and energy to choosing an international payment provider that is well-known for its commitment to safeguarding sensitive cardholder data.
Understand legal and regulatory requirements.
Just as doing business in the U.S. carries with it certain governmental and financial rules and stipulations, the same is true in other nations. Before you sell anything to even one international customer, you should be sure that your company’s practices, procedures, and security protocols are in line with your targeted countries’ rules and regulations. Export.gov is an excellent site to consult for information concerning legal regulations when selling abroad.
Decide on a fulfillment strategy.
Enhancing your revenue cannot happen unless and until you get a handle on exactly how to ensure that your international customers receive their orders in an accurate and timely manner. The plans that work for you in your home country may not be relevant abroad. You’ll need to do some research to find local suppliers and shippers who are committed to on-time delivery, and are already familiar with the laws and customs of the area.
Price competitively at the local level.
Although you may have a carefully designed set of prices for the goods you sell in your home country, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can simply transfer these to your global customer base. For each geographical area that you wish to serve, you need to carefully evaluate how similar items are priced by your competition. Failing to take this step can lead to a catastrophic over- or under-valuation of your wares. Either of these options could lead to extreme financial difficulties for your fledgling international business.
Enter the global marketplace.
This is your last step into international commerce, and it needs to be taken with care. If you are just getting your feet wet abroad for the first time, marketing your products on an existing platform like Amazon or eBay is often a smart move. Having said that, before you go with one of these well-known options, you’ll also want to evaluate your target area to see if there are any preferred regional sites.
An intermediate option is to expand and optimize your existing website to cater to an international market. To start, all that is required is to update your content to reflect your new selling status. Over time, you can add scope and sophistication by providing multi-currency support and content in different languages.
The most involved online global strategy is to create a unique website specifically designed for customers in a particular country or region. Doing this may mean that you need to obtain a local domain name. Furthermore, you will want to thoroughly understand the tax and regulatory requirements of your target country before you embark on your new ecommerce website.
Selling abroad could unlock your future success.
Innovations in technology have, in many respects, erased borders and transformed ecommerce into an egalitarian pursuit open to all who are energetic and motivated enough to enter the arena. It is true that selling overseas is not for the faint of heart or the unprepared. However, if you go about the endeavor with forethought and care, you can lay the foundation for an ecommerce enterprise that meets the specialized needs of a wide variety of buyers from all over the world. All while noticing a world of difference in your bottom line.