International Shipping and Trade the Next Step for Many Small Businesses

International Shipping and Trade the Next Step for Many Small Businesses

A common theme among small businesses is the mindset that their own operations do not have the resources to offer international shipping. Companies that consider themselves part of this group should think about changing their approach to shipping and marketing. All marketplaces are now global, and it would be unwise to restrict your brand to only the US.

This may come as a surprise, but fewer than ten percent of American manufacturers ship and trade internationally. With only a website, you can make your inventory available for viewing to people around the globe. If they are interested in your product, you should have a way to get it to them. Choosing to ignore international demand could leave profits off the table. So, here are four ways to jumpstart your global sales.

Pre-select Your New Markets

It will pay off to collect the appropriate data before entering any intentional market. For example, you’ll want to find the countries where demand will likely be the highest for your product. Is there a place in the market for a product like yours, or is your product superior to their domestic subsite? Once you’ve accomplished this, start to narrow down your search to particular groups of people. Your ultimate goal is to find your new customer.

Make sure you don’t rely too heavily on domestic data here. Your typical customer across the Atlantic could be much different than your average buyer stateside.

Research Customer Payment Habits

The right research will be just as important here. Don’t assume that your international customers will be comfortable with the payment methods you already have in place. International shoppers are more likely to abandon their purchase at checkout than any other point. You want the payment option they are most used to on your own checkout page.

This is going to vary by country. In Germany, 46% of payments are made by online bank transfer, while 60% of payments in the Netherlands are made with direct deposit. Additionally, just like your US customers, these international shoppers will want to pay in their own currency. Make sure your products are listed in the matching same currency of your target market.

Understand International Regulations

You especially do not want to get caught off guard when it comes to international regulations. Your product could be subject to a number of different guidelines depending on the country you are importing to. The three biggest things to keep an eye out for will be: country-specific duties and taxes, customs, and free-trade agreements.

Decide Where To Start

Once you’ve laid down all the above groundwork, you will need to pick the best point of entry. The cheapest and quickest option may be to leverage already-established web marketplaces. E-commerce sites like Amazon or E-bay let you market your product without making any changes to your current US website. Selling here will give you cost-effective exposure.

Look into upgrading your own website after you’ve seen credible interest through a third-party platform. To start, you can improve your current website to facilitate international customers. If the demand is there, consider investing in a custom website to handle a specific international market.

While you contemplate the possibility of selling internationally, don’t forget that there are countless resources available. The global marketplace will seem smaller once you’re part of it!