With the global ecommerce sales being projected to cross $5 trillion this year, expanding your online business to sell internationally isn’t a choice anymore. Doing so can potentially pump up your sales by as much as 50% and allow you to tap into almost a quarter of the population around the world.
But with the competition getting fiercer by the day and all the additional complexities that come with international marketplaces, you need to make sure that your business is fully prepared for this shift. And in this article, we’ll make sure you are with our set of tips and tricks to help your business succeed. Let’s get started!
Why Go Global?
Before you even consider selling internationally, it’s important to assess the benefits that come with this decision. Here are a few key reasons why you should:
It’s Now Easier Than Ever Before
With online marketplaces such as Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon that cater to global markets, doing business on a global scale has become easier than ever. This makes it possible for small businesses to find their footing in the international arena without having to spend a fortune on establishing their presence.
It Allows You to Diversify
While your brand and products are undeniably superb, staying confined to a single market can make your business more susceptible to the sway of potential volatile factors such as changes in consumer habits and preferences. By going international, you can ensure that your business is diversified enough to withstand any turbulence.
More Customers Means More Sales
Well, this isn’t always the case but the potential is certainly there. By taking your business global, you open up your products and services to a much larger customer base. And if even a small fraction of this population ends up buying from you, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
It Lets You Maximize Your Brand’s Potential
Sometimes, it takes a foreign perspective to truly realize how good your brand really is. Being exposed to different cultures and demographics can let you view your brand from an entirely new perspective and help you make necessary changes to maximize its potential.
Furthermore, this can help you discover how valuable your products or services might be to foreign audiences, which in turn can help you expand and develop new ones accordingly.
While it’s quite enticing, of course, taking your business to an international level doesn’t come without its challenges. Here are a few key things you need to keep in mind before making the jump:
It Can Be Costly
While your operations will be mainly done online, shipping products overseas can get pretty pricey. On top of that, you might also need to consider other costs such as duties, taxes, and tariffs which can significantly dent your profitability.
You Need to Understand the Local Market and Culture
What’s well-received here in the US may not be welcome in other parts of the world. You’ll need to study your target country’s market and culture if you want to be successful. Otherwise, you might end up alienating your potential customers and losing out on sales.
You Might Need to Adapt Your Product
This is closely related to the previous point but it’s important enough to warrant its own mention. In order for your products to be successful in a foreign market, you might need to adapt or modify it to better suit the local taste and preferences. Just look at McDonald’s! The whole world may enjoy the same irresistible fries they offer, but it’s a different story when it comes to their burgers and the rest of the menu.
Things To Consider Before Selling Internationally
Despite all the potential cons, selling internationally can be a great way to boost your profits and grow your business. And if you’re seriously considering taking the plunge, you need to keep the following things in mind:
Your Current Performance
Before thinking of targeting foreign markets, you need to assess your current business performance. This can help you get a clearer view of how well your business is doing and whether or not you have the resources to support an expansion.
Your Products’ Destinations
We get you. Go big or go home, right? But in business, it pays to be a little more strategic. Not all of your products might do well in every country so you need to be selective. Map out the locations where your products are most likely to succeed and focus on those first.
You can do this by checking the analytics of your social media pages such as Instagram insights which gives you an idea of the demographics of your followers. Once you see that there’s a potential market for a certain country, you can then proceed to conduct further research on the best way to enter that particular market.
Your Shipping Strategy
One of the biggest challenges of selling internationally is shipping. You need to find a reliable courier that can get your products from the US to your customers in other countries without breaking the bank. Working with a print-on-demand fulfillment partner that ships directly to your customers or making use of Etsy’s Global Postal Shipping Labels are among your best and most cost-efficient options to make this happen.
You can also try to negotiate lower shipping rates with your chosen courier by increasing your volume. The catch is that you need to have a good handle of your inventory so you don’t end up with too much or too little stock.
How You Market Your Products & Communicate Your Brand Message
Your marketing strategy will also need to be tweaked when selling internationally. You’ll need to consider things like language barriers and cultural differences. One way to get around this is to produce marketing materials that are easily translatable. You can also try to work with influencers in your target country who can help you promote your products locally.
Another thing to consider is currency conversion. You wouldn’t want to lose potential customers just because your prices are in dollars. Save them from the hassle of converting your prices and make sure that your company website is able to display them according to your customer’s currency. If you’re using Shopify for example, you can use and integrate currency converter apps in your store such as the BEST Currency Converter and Bold Multi-Currency.
International Payment Methods
With online payment becoming the norm, you need to make sure that your website is able to accommodate different payment methods. Luckily, there are a number of apps that can help you with this. For example, Shopify has an app called 2Checkout which allows your customers to pay using their preferred credit card, PayPal, or bank transfer.
You should also take into account the fees associated with each payment method as these can eat into your profit margins.
Common Challenges to Watch Out For
Ready to go global? Well, not too fast. As exciting as it may sound, there are still a lot of things you need to prep yourself for before getting in on the action. Here are just some of the things you might wanna watch out for:
Different Time Zones
This is a no-brainer but it’s also something we’re often guilty of overlooking. Your marketing efforts will be wasted if you’re sending out emails or social media posts when your target market is already asleep. Make sure you do your research and take note of the time differences in countries you’re planning to penetrate into. Furthermore, make sure you have customer support available in real-time so you can address any issues they might experience.
Refunds & Returns
Refunds and returns can be quite a handful and it’s even more challenging when you’re dealing with international customers. Since you can’t physically inspect the products, it’s important that you have a clear and concise return policy that your customers can easily understand. You should also try to work with a fulfillment partner that offers free returns so you don’t have to shoulder the cost of these.
Customs Regulations & Duties
When selling internationally, you also need to take into account the customs regulations and duties imposed by different countries. These can get quite complicated but it’s important that you understand them so you can avoid any issues down the road.
The best way to do this is to work with a fulfillment partner that has experience dealing with these. They can help you navigate the complicated world of customs and duties so you can focus on other aspects of your business.
Some Tips for Success
And we’re almost there! Before you go ahead and start selling internationally, here are just some final tips to help you get started on the right foot:
Do Your Research. Always.
Trends and issues in different countries can change at the drop of a hat. This is why it’s important that you stay on top of things and do your research before setting up shop. Don’t make assumptions when it comes to international selling–the more you know about your target market, the better.
You don’t have to sell to the whole world right off the bat (although of course, you can…eventually). Start with small steps and expand your reach as you go along. The same goes for your product line–it’s often better to start with a handful of products that you know will do well in the market before expanding your offerings.
Be Realistic About Your Timeline
Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too many things at once. When setting up your international selling operations, take things one step at a time and be realistic about your timeline. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Choose the Right Partners
Working with the right partners can make or break your international selling adventure. Make sure you do your research and find professionals that know the ins-and-outs of the business so they can help you achieve your goals.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
In this day and age, not taking advantage of technology would be a crime. Put it to good use by automating different aspects of your operations, from inventory management and order fulfillment, to customer support and marketing.
Just make sure you don’t rely on it too much—after all, the human touch is still very important in business. So find the right balance and connecting to your international customers should be a breeze.
Ready To Make Your Brand Known Around the World?
Going global and getting high profits from it is any business’s dream. But as you can see, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and of course, the right knowledge to make it happen.
Nonetheless, it’s not impossible—as long as you believe in your brand and you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can definitely make it work. So go out there and start making your brand known to the rest of the world! We know you can do it!