What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you think about international customers?
Most businesses consider their cross-border shoppers in terms of challenges. Indeed, when you want to expand to a new market, you need to adjust to your new target audience:
- Language challenge
- Competition challenge
- Cost challenge
However, it would be unfair to pretend that international customers can’t be a source of business improvement. On the contrary, rather than approaching a global market with a negative mindset, it’s essential to consider how customers from different regions can help make your company better.
They highlight the need for a shared local culture
Your business offers unique products and services international customers can’t find at home. However, making your offer unique doesn’t make it relatable. Your customers may expect essential add-on services they would otherwise get from your competitors. Approaching a new market successfully is all about making your offer unique and relatable at the same time. That’s precisely where it can be useful to reach out to local suppliers to address the cultural gap. Unfortunately, a lot of companies reject international partnerships because of transaction costs. It can be expensive to send money to Bangladesh suppliers, for instance, if your banking system can’t keep transaction fees low. Creating partnerships with local market players, however, reduces cultural frictions and confusion.
They make you rethink your packaging
Getting your packaging right is a delicate balance between aesthetics, promotional display, and functionality. You want a packaging that looks good but also is convenient and marketable. But when you reach out to international markets, you need to consider how protective your packaging is. Short-distance shipping is unlikely to require additional protection and preservation measures. On the other hand, when your products reach a new market, they need to arrive in one piece. Is your packaging sturdy enough to ensure nothing can get damaged through transport? Is your packaging suitable for extreme climate disparities, such as humid and hot tropical climates? If the answer to any of these questions is no, your business isn’t ready for international customers.
They test your tech to the limit
Everyone loves an app. It’s the quickest and easiest way to make purchases online and access online services. However, your application may not be useful in an international context. Translation is not the main issue when it comes to reaching out to users in India, Southeast Asia or Latin America. Indeed, tech compatibility is a priority for international app usage. In some regions, customers are likely to use dated technology, which means that your app needs to perform on older versions of the operating system. Contrast also makes a huge difference. Someone who lives in a hot and humid climate, for instance, will keep a low-resolution screen as a bright screen would not be suitable. However, if your design isn’t optimized for low res screens, users may not be able to use the app.
In conclusion, international customers act as inclusiveness activists. They expect your business to understand local requirements by adapting your app, packaging, and presence to their everyday lifestyle. Rather than thinking of an international audience in terms of challenges, you can use your customers as an excuse to build a better business for all.