Small Business Going Global

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One of the benefits of running a business with ecommerce is that you can reach out to markets all over the world. However, this is often easier in theory than in practice. Going global can seem like such a daunting task that many website owners avoid it altogether, missing out on valuable sales. Here are the major issues to consider when opening up your business to the international market.

  • Multiple languages. A simple text translation tool is often not enough; every language has idioms and sayings that simply don’t translate well by mechanical means. The best approach is usually to hire someone who is fluent in the language in question to write high quality sales copy geared toward the national market you are trying to reach. This may slow down your expansion and add to the overhead initially, but reaching out your potential customers in words they can appreciate will pay off in the end.
  • Multiple currencies. You may think that the dollar is universal, but this simply is not the case. People will be more likely to buy from your site if they can see at a glance what they will be paying in their own currency. Further, there are a variety of ‘payment gateways’ throughout the world. You need to be aware of how people in your new target market are used to paying for internet purchases and accommodate this.
  • Cultural differences. We have already discussed cultural differences regarding money and language, but these do not define a people. Every culture has a different idea of a product’s value as well as preferences for certain colors and styles. If you want to reach a new customer group, you may need to slightly modify your offerings so they will enjoy your range and feel that you are one of them. You may also need to adjust your prices beyond standard currency conversion. 
  • Shipping options. If you are selling physical goods instead of downloadable or information products, planning for shipping to foreign and overseas markets will be an integral part of your global expansion. Different countries have different shipping carriers, so you will need to explore how shipping is handled in each area you are trying to reach and make arrangements with the appropriate businesses and agencies. In many cases, you will also have to plan for an extended customs process as part of the shipping procedure, which can add to the time and money needed to deliver your goods. 
  • Taxes and other legalities. Nothing is certain but death and taxes, right? You can be assured that the market you are trying to reach will have its own tax codes. These may or may not affect you, but you need to know from the beginning what the rules are so you can adjust prices accordingly. Similarly, there are certain items that are illegal or frowned upon in other countries. 

Going global as an ecommerce business may seem like a daunting process, but these five considerations should get you started. There are several website design and management packages that can simplify the process and give you a better chance at success. From there, the rest is up to you!