Is your business ready for international expansion?

For many companies, expanding overseas offers a chance to explore markets and access millions of new customers, opening up countless new sales opportunities in the process. But few companies actually succeed at going global. Before making the big decision, you need to know whether it’s the right one for your business. Here we look at some questions you need to ask yourself before moving towards international expansion.

Is there demand for your product abroad?

The decision to extend beyond borders means a shift away from subjectively based-decisions to ones framed by metrics. Rather than just jumping into a new market blind, make sure customer demand is pulling you there. You need to concentrate on the markets where your product is likely to do well. That means carefully investigating target markets and the likely demand for your product.

First, find out which sectors are thriving in the location you’re considering launching in, and also where further growth is expected. Is your product in a growth sector? If so, there’s likely to be a good deal of competition vying for custom. Investigate the competition’s product offering and identify whether you have a USP that will appeal to the target market and set your brand ahead.

One way to look into these critical factors is to commission a report from a reputable market research company. Alternatively, look online for reports by professional services companies that cover your market. Use these, along with information from the target territory’s statistics office, to build up a picture of a place and potential customers.

Can you handle the logistics?

A business must be equipped for the necessary logistical changes when going global, and an important area to touch on is how to get products to customers overseas.

How will you ship your product? Will you need to translate packaging and advertising materials? How about compliance with the regulations such as taxes and payments? These considerations are crucial in ensuring your resources are allocated in a way that doesn’t hurt your sales, cause legal issues or leave customers dissatisfied.

To make the transition as smooth as possible, your best chance is to use an experienced courier. Unlike many large couriers, CitySprint offers a myriad of different international delivery options, including small item delivery, bulky item delivery and freight services. In addition, the courier has full tracking and electronic PODs. Losing track of a parcel and having an angry customer emailing you is bad enough, but having this situation internally is a true logistical nightmare. How to deal with it? Invest in the best, and ensure it doesn’t happen.

Be prepared to localise your product

Different from translation, localising a product or business means adapting and catering it to meet the needs of a specific market, taking dialect, culture and social norms into consideration.

Not doing this successfully can easily lead to brand embarrassment. Take the example of KFC. When the American fast food giant attempted to launch its restaurant chain in China in the 1980s, it was met with a humorous reaction after its branding was poorly localised. Taking a literal translation (which doesn’t always work word-for-word) and ignoring the importance of localisation, KFC’s famous catchphrase “fingerlickin good” became something along the lines of “eat your fingers off”. This blunder was fairly well received, but it’s easy to see how things could go awry.

You can’t presume that just because something works well in your country that it will work well anywhere. You have to empathise with and adapt to the country you’re selling in. Educate yourself on local customs and enlist local support to assist you as you prepare to go to market.

Winning over a new market often hinges on your ability to localise your strategy to fit the business climate and culture of each country you enter. Do this successfully and the world really can be in the palm of your hand.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.