How to successfully expand the reach of you business
Whether you’ve been running your own business for years or are just starting out, there’s no doubt at some point in your journey you’ll be looking to expand and scale operations. For those in the e-commerce space, one of the most effective methods of scaling your business is to expand into new markets. While you may have started off selling products or services online domestically, making the move to offer them internationally is a great way to continuously grow.
However, expanding into overseas markets can appear to be a daunting task at first glance — but it doesn’t need to be. Let’s look at some of the best ways your business can handle an expansion into selling overseas without the need for a dedicated department.
Research, Research, and Research
As with anything in business, data matters (a lot) when making any large changes or implementations to your current operations. With that in mind, it’s crucial to begin with the proper research before entering a new market. If you’ve had tremendous success with a product you’re selling in North America, what do you know about buyers in the UK or Germany? Are they likely to be as interested as North American online shoppers? Do they have more choices in the niche in their market versus North America? What’s the competition like? All of these are important questions to not only ask yourself, but to find the answers to.
Image: Worldwide search data for “Drones for Sale” over the past 12 months showing regions that searched for the term the most as well as cyclical up-ticks such as around the holiday shopping season — Google Trends
There is a variety of tools available for marketers and business owners to utilize, but you can start off with easily accessible free resources like Google Trends to begin your analysis. You want to be looking for opportunities in countries with high keyword searches for your service or product, not necessarily trying to build demand from nothing in a new location.
Marketing: Understand Where and Who You’re Selling To
This second tip may seem obvious, but it doesn’t mean everyone gets it. Truly effective marketing can already be difficult in the country you’re from and have grown up in. Then, adding an additional cultural layer to the equation makes things even more complex when expanding your customer base. This point isn’t intended to dissuade anyone from growing into new markets, but it should not be forgotten in your marketing and sales efforts.
Keep in mind that depending on where you’re looking to expand, the way brands interact with consumers can vary drastically. This brings us to the last point, which is centered around knowing that you won’t be able to know everything on your own.
Look for Guidance
You’re a business owner and while you’ve likely found yourself needing to wear many hats along your entrepreneurial journey, you also know that it’s just as important to surround yourself with knowledgeable people as it is to know everything yourself. There are certain areas of international e-commerce on which you’ll be far better served to seek guidance and assistance.
For American e-commerce business owners, one area in particular that you’ll want to look for help on is the financial and logistics side of overseas sales, especially when expanding to markets in the European Economic Area. Between the various taxes like the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and the need to exchange foreign currencies often (because you should always be listing products/services in the local currency), there’s a lot to keep track of.
All these additional factors are exactly why it’s crucial to not be afraid of looking for help. There are plenty of businesses whose own business is helping with international selling and payments and it’s not a bad idea to take advantage of them. With moneytransfercomparison’s small business section you could learn the subtle differences between the leading services in this space. E-commerce sellers can look to providers for guidance and aid in payment processing, international money transfers, and locked-in currency conversions, and that’s not all. When tackling many of the other steps to go global with your selling, you should always be on the lookout for local service providers for fulfillment and logistics. Not only can they provide the service you need, but they add extra value to you because they have much of the know-how of doing business in the region(s) you’re expanding to and you can learn a lot from them about the process.
The Bottom Line
No matter where you are in the life of your business, there’s no time like the present to evaluate how you’re going to effectively scale operations in the future. For many in the e-commerce space, that translates to growing your customer base by offering products in more places. Though the thought of expanding may be overwhelming at first, putting in the time at the front end and seeking out the right help can make the whole process smoother, leaving you wondering why you never sought new markets earlier.