There has never been an easier time to take a business globally than today. The world is highly connected, from social media to the internet at large. The existence of diverse trade agreements between multiple countries makes it easier to do business abroad.
While it might be a bit less of a hassle to enter a foreign market than before, staying and thriving there is easier said than done. Driving your business to international markets will expose you to layers of complications, including new cultures, laws, competition, and consumer preferences. As long as you can work toward understanding the new market you are walking into, thriving becomes easier.
Here are a few essential considerations to make as you venture into this new business stage:
- Comply With Foreign Policies and Regulations
Different countries tend to have different business policies and industry regulations. Being non-compliant with these rules is one of the easiest ways to lose money or your license to conduct business in a foreign market. Some essential regulations to pay attention to include:
- Tax laws
- Import and export laws
- Labor and employment laws
- Industry-specific regulations
- Intellectual and property rights
- Testing and quality assurance standards
Navigating the legal landscape of a new market on your own can be tough. The last thing you need is to break a rule that you didn’t know existed. That’s why it’s important to hire a legal team that specializes in specific aspects of your business, from tax to labor laws. If you can’t afford to have an in-house team, feel free to outsource the roles. While it might cost you to hire legal professionals, it could save you from a lot of frustrations in the future.
- Assess the New Market
Every market has unique triggers, aspects that could make or break your entry into the market. From competitors to the country’s culture, you should take time to understand everything that makes the market tick, especially if you are just starting an online business. For instance, you might need to revamp your marketing techniques. While Facebook marketing might thrive in the US, it might not work in China, where the social platform has been banned.
You also need to study gatekeepers and your competition. Conducting a SWOT analysis will offer insights into who you are up against in the new market. It might take some research and time to understand the market, but once you take the time to build that expertise, everything will flow smoothly.
- Localize Payment
Offering your payment options through foreign currencies and payment gateways is a sure way to alienate your e-commerce customers in the new market. They might struggle to understand exactly what they are paying or even fear transacting with your business. Payment localization ensures that you can offer your products and services through payment means your customers understand. It will also be quite beneficial since:
- Customers have an instant familiarity with their domestic currency
- You will eliminate any payment doubts
- Customers won’t be worried about exchange rates and extra fees
- You will offer customers a seamless shopping experience
- It will be tough for customers to tell the difference between you and domestic merchants
Localizing payments is no easy feat, though. You will need to embrace familiar payment methods, translate your site content into local languages, account for currency exchange rates, comply with local AML/KYC regulations, and more. Luckily, there are businesses that specialize in global payment processing that could bear this burden for you. They will handle the bulk of the payment localization process on your behalf.
- Learn the Local Supply Chain
Local supply chains can be complex, but you need them to move raw materials and goods around. One of the easiest ways to aggravate your new customers is to have inconsistencies in product and service delivery. You need to weigh your options to build a reliable and pocket-friendly supply chain network.
Understanding what works and what doesn’t takes a lot of time and research. Consulting supply chain firms could make the process easier. During the first few instances of working with a new supplier, allow yourself some wiggle room with regards to order delivery time to the customer to account for any delays. You should also look for ways to counter supply chain crises.
- Prepare Your Workforce for the New Customers
Your staff members could make or break your efforts to enter a global market. They are the ones who will communicate with customers daily. Ideally, they need to understand everything that makes the customer tick, from their culture to typical keywords.
For instance, your sales team members will be more successful when using local vernacular during conversations with customers. Your staff also needs to understand the cultural gaps between you and the customers to avoid stepping on any toes. Anything that could help improve teamwork will ensure you offer a seamless service to customers too. If possible, you should consider hiring staff members familiar with the local customer base for an easier time.
- Localize Your Business Presence and Brand Image
Trust and credibility are your two best friends when it comes to winning in a foreign market. Customers will be more open to doing business with you if they feel like your business is speaking directly to them. Some of the best ways to resonate with them include:
- Getting a local and toll-free business number
- Molding your business pitch and content into something the local customers are familiar with
- Partnering with distributors or resellers that have a firm understanding of the local market
It’s All About the Right Relationships
You can’t do it alone if you want to thrive in a global market. Forging the right relationships will help you understand the new market and break barriers. You need to work with local legal, supply chain, marketing, and payment processing experts, among others, for a smooth transition. Dive into researching the leading experts in the new markets you are entering for a better chance of thriving as you grow your business globally.
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She often covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate and finance, but also enjoys writing about travel, interiors and events.