Selling on the internet removes the geographical barriers for sellers and the potential for selling your products internationally is vast. The markets in the UK and Europe are full of new customers who regularly buy on the internet and are always looking out for new products at competitive prices. Rather than ‘buyer beware’ it is ‘seller beware’ when entering a new market. Whilst increased profitability is likely, it is dependent on thorough market research, or else new sellers run the risk of losing more than they gain.
Consider the following points, in detail, before international expansion. The time invested in researching these points is likely to pay dividends in the long run. Knowing your market will help an international seller avoid the costly pitfalls of poor or no research, which could potentially wipe out any profits from their international expansion.
Be aware of why you want to expand internationally. It will involve costs both financial and time. To justify these you need to be clear on why you want to sell internationally:
Are your domestic markets oversaturated or sluggish? Do you need to find new markets to maintain your existing level of profitability?
An international base in Europe or the UK, would serve your existing international customers better.
Both of these are valid reasons for international expansion but the first will require redirection of resources/personnel, whilst the second will involve new resources/personnel.
Realistic budgeting is crucial for successful international expansion. If you already have international customers you have a consumer base to build on and there should be existing sales to balance the financial outlay of expansion. If the international market is untried you may need a greater financial outlay in terms of fulfillment of orders and marketing of your products. Don’t compromise your existing domestic operation by international expansion. Make sure you are aware of local laws and taxes.
Knowing the international market is crucial. Do you need to communicate in the local language to be successful? Do potential customers shop online at different times and will they expect you to support them through their shopping experience during these times? Who else operates in these markets, potential competitors and their experiences can help you gain or competitive edge or avoid costly mistakes.
Incremental expansion is the sensible approach. Start with one market and see how the sales go and how much the costs are. Blanket expansion on the total European market, may lead to order fulfillment problems or drain resources from your existing domestic operations and therefore reduce the potential profitability of your international expansion.