Posted: Tue 4th Jul 2023
Having established a small business, it's normal for owners to start thinking ahead and planning how their company can grow more successfully.
This could present itself in any number of ways, from selling higher-quality goods to building a stronger online brand. One particularly effective way of growing your business is to expand overseas.
Overseas expansion can offer significant opportunities for growth, opening up new markets to tap into, a greater target audience to reach, and regions where your goods may be in more demand than anywhere else.
But expanding your business and its website globally is not without its challenges. Here are four things you should consider before extending your reach to an international scale.
1. Choose an internationally known domain extension
First, you should carefully consider your domain name. Your domain name is where your website lives online and is the heart of your online business. If you're going to expand overseas, you should think about whether your domain name is suitable for markets outside of your own.
The right domain extension is a key part of this. And while there are a number of domain extensions on the market, a company with global aspirations should choose one that offers global reach. This is because local extensions may not be as recognisable to customers in other markets and may not rank as well in search.
.com, on the other hand, is a domain extension known worldwide, and could let customers know that your business is international, as well as trusted and reliable. By making sure your business's online presence is built upon an internationally recognisable domain extension, you can help establish familiarity with customers and get off on the right foot in new markets.
Choosing a domain extension suitable for overseas expansion should be your first port of call. But what's next?
2. Develop a strategy
This may sound obvious, but strategy should play a key part in how, where and when you expand overseas.
You wouldn't, for instance, want to lay plans to expand your business into a country, only to discover that what you sell is not in demand. Selling woolly jumpers to one of the world's hottest countries, for example, is unlikely to result in success.
One of the best ways to start expanding is to first see where your product is in demand, and then look to expand into that region. There are several ways you can find out what region is best suited to your business, but perhaps most effective is market research.
You can conduct this yourself, both through online research and with thorough reading of public affairs publications - magazines, newspapers and journals - which can provide economic analysis into markets around the world.
If this doesn't provide you with the information you are seeking, market research companies can help you define your target customer, gauge demand, and understand cultural differences in a selected region.
The final point is important, as what works in some countries may be offensive in others. If you're selling clothing and intend on expanding into China, for example, green hats can be offensive, so any green hats will likely be avoided by customers.
Thorough research can help you understand these cultural differences and avoid any mistakes.
So, now that you know where you'll be expanding, it's time to ensure your content is appropriate for that region.
Considering expanding to the US? We've produced a detailed guide that sets out the key steps involved. Download it now for free
3. Localise your content
When looking to make your business and company website appealing to overseas markets, you should bear in mind that your content should be suitable and understandable to the country you're looking to share it with.
It's also important to avoid region-specific slang, as you risk alienating your audience. For example, if you're a British business selling men's clothing, and you list a coat as an 'anorak', people in other regions might not understand what you're referring to, as this type of coat is commonly known as a 'parka' in other markets.
It's important to make sure that audiences in other countries can understand your content. If you're selling goods into regions which speak other languages from yours, you'll want to offer multiple-language options on your website.
To do this, it's advised to seek advice from a localisation company who can translate your content and make it relevant to your audience.
4. Optimise your e-commerce
Now you know where you're selling, and have localised your content to that market, it's time to make sure customers from your chosen region will be able to buy your goods.
It's a good idea to make it as easy as possible for people around the world to quickly and efficiently purchase your goods or services. Thankfully, a website with an optimised e-commerce strategy for overseas markets can do just this.
First, you should make sure your website has the option to display products in the correct currency for each market in which you wish to sell.
A shopper in China, for example, may be reticent to buy goods in U.S. dollars. This is because it may be unfamiliar, and harder to judge an item's value, when not in the buyer's chosen currency. By offering a multitude of currency options, you can better serve customers around the world.
Your website should also offer a variety of different payment methods. Just because, in the UK, most online consumers will pay for goods using debit or credit card transactions doesn't mean that will be the same in the market you're expanding into.
Once you've chosen the market you'll move into, use a market research company to provide insight into which payment merchants that country predominately uses and try to provide it.
Accommodating an array of payment methods may help customers feel more catered for. Also, by offering trusted and reliable payment platforms, customers all around the world may feel more secure carrying out transactions with your business.
Expanding overseas should be an exciting time for your business, and with these initial tips to get started, your business could reach and potentially thrive in new markets.
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