E-commerce businesses looking to expand their operations on a more global scale may find now is the time to do so. Thanks in part to the rapid development of Internet commerce, companies can now sell to overseas customers easily. With most developed nations in the midst of an economic recovery, now is a great time to extend operations to other countries.
Today's businesses have to consider a number of factors before global expansion, though. Soliciting products to a worldwide customer base is a dramatic increase in operational reach, so business owners have to plan and strategize accordingly. Keeping that in mind, here are three simple steps to help with a global expansion:
- Identify the right markets: Business owners will want to identify markets that are not only strong at the moment, but are also developing quickly. Obviously, established nations like China, the U.K., Japan and Germany are a given for operation. However, other markets, like Brazil, Russia and even Nigeria are possible options for potential expansion and massive profitability. Russia and Brazil were included on Trellis' top-10 international e-commerce markets list with 16 and 22 percent year-over-year growth last year, respectively. Nigeria is more of a dark horse; because of its developing infrastructure, increasing smartphone usage and rapidly growing population, Nigeria could be a rising global e-commerce market in the coming years. Vanguard found that nearly two-thirds of Nigeria's Internet users had bought at least one item online by June 2014.
- Align the business plan with these markets: The next step business owners need to take is to determine how their business model translates into these new markets. There are a number of ways e-commerce companies can enter a new market, but that's not to say their products and services will automatically translate to that culture. Forbes says companies can enter new markets through importing, exporting, joint ventures and off-shore production, depending on what the company sells. If a business produces, resells or manufactures goods, exporting is typically the least risky way to enter a new market.
- Seek out extra help or guidance: Once a business has decided where it wants to expand to and properly developed a go-to market strategy in the new country, it's important to then seek out any extra guidance or assistance that is available. New regional or national governments may be able to provide assistance in finding local incubator groups, for example, to help get a business going in a new market. Actively seeking out these resources can dramatically help a business entering a new country since it could be somewhat strapped for resources, contacts and market share. Forbes suggested a few resources to seek out when entering a new market:
- The International Trade Association
- The SBA Office of International Trade
- International Trade Data Bank
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