You suddenly found yourself with an opportunity to expand your business by exporting your products across the border into a neighboring country. And, though you may be hesitant, the opportunity can provide an exciting business prospect. International expansion can lead to new customers and growth at an unprecedented strategy.
But, cross-country growth also can present challenges. You’ll need to understand new customers, new policies and new processes. Looking into the future as a global player may cause you trepidation, but it doesn’t have to if you keep these seven tips in mind.
Develop a Strategy
Before you jump directly into a new global marketplace, take some time to strategize. While you make know the products or services that best suit the needs of your current customers, do a SWAT analysis to understand what customers in new markets are looking for.
It is very likely there are different players and different competition abroad. Although on paper, it may sound as simple as extending your brand from one area to another, complications can arise if you are not aware of who is your new target market, their unique price points, and how to physically get your products or services to those consumers.
Finally, traditional payment plans that are common-place in one country may be totally different than expected transaction policies in other countries. Understand when payments will arrive and how you will manage revenue and costs.
A great strategy that businesses one country at a time, or at least bundle similar nations together based on business need. Sit down and evaluate how you will need to overhaul your business practices in order to meet compliance regulations, or even if you will need to re-name or re-organize your services. Figuring it out the first time will be the hardest, and then it will be easier to adopt after that.
Understand the Market & Potential Partners
The American marketplace is a world unto itself, so when you move into a foreign country and begin selling, the culture, signage, and packaging of your items may all need modification to make the product fit into the culture of the market you are trying to sell to. Also, creating a successful profile brand in a foreign marketplace can be more restrictive than it was for you in your home country.
Depending on your business it may be possible to bring your product or services directly to a new market. Alternatively, it can also make more sense to find a local business partner to help you expand. For example, if you are physically bringing a new product into market, you may spend time building relationships with logistic firms, shippers, and storage companies rather than build those from scratch as well.
Know the Rules
International expansion requires knowledge of little things you wouldn’t normally think about such as how the consumer in that area looks at shipping, what options there are, and how does shipping differ in the public view from on-site pick-up. There is also the problem of advertising for expansion in a new market. If you are an American product, does the law require you to show prices in local currency or in American dollars to show what type of product you are?
It is also important to include any duty charges in the direct consumer shipping or in-store product pick-ups. One thing is for sure, infrastructures vary greatly from one region to another, so it is always best to do your due diligence before marketing a product.
Finally, understand tax codes and compliance issues. While you may assume you are working in a country with the highest standards, that may not be the case. Ensure you know the rules before expansion as failing to meet compliance regulars can create additional costs.
Expand Your Appeal
Creating a website that appealed to your American consumers may have been easy because you knew the culture, but you may find appealing to the cross-border population may not be as easy.
If possible, hire a team that can make the site multilingual and offers customer support in each language. You should also consider having someone on staff that is fluent in any language of the areas you are marketing to in case you receive emails with questions about orders. There is also the problem of returns when customers speak a different language than you do, so it is important to understand the consumer’s concerns in order to keep them happy.
Additionally, make your brand accessible by creating a loyal following. Create a need for your products or services with a big digital footprint. Hire a media consultant that can patrol all the social media platforms and create a digital marketing campaign, especially for the new area you are expanding into.
Seek an Expert
Although you may have a very successful business on American soil, your goods and services may not transition well onto foreign soil. Understanding the laws of the country will help you avoid running into any negative problems such as tax codes, local restrictions, and city legislation.
Local logistics can also be an area of concern when shipping internationally. Things like supply chain cohesion and payment terms can vary widely. You may also want to consider third party logistics companies to help with freight factoring if payments are slow.
Expanding Your Brand Internationally
Expanding your brand across the border doesn’t have to be complicated if you know beforehand what the potential complications can be. Keeping the above seven tips in mind as you change marketing strategies, locate local experts, and expand your banking can help protect your business as you grow.