Until recently, international trade was a discipline that few small businesses had the capacity to enter into. A combination of paperwork, fees, regulations, tariffs, and language barriers stopped them from participating - but ecommerce has changed things.
Ecommerce and globalisation have helped to create a vastly different landscape from the one that existed even five years ago. The advent of the internet and the unstoppable success of selling sites such as eBay and Amazon led ordinary retailers to the internet - and with it a global market of consumers just waiting to buy what was on offer from countries all around the world.
If you're ready to enter the international scene and join these pioneers, then here are a few tips for getting started.
#1: Set Your Sights Overseas
The first step to trading internationally is simple: start to think about it. There is a whole world beyond our shores, with millions of people who have the spending power to boost your business. The most important step to success is just to recognise this fact and stop believing that there are barriers to prevent you from accessing it. Yes, the global marketplace can seem overwhelming, but that doesn't mean that your product won't appeal to it.
If you're not sure where to start, don't worry about it; the Federation of Small Businesses, the UK's leading business organisation, offers a wealth of advice on the topic, and it's a great place to begin.
#2: Perform Market Research
It makes no sense, of course, to assume that your product will sell anywhere in the world without first doing some research to back this up. Market research is one of the handiest tools at your disposal, and offers a fantastic opportunity to explore your product's potential in specific markets, helping you to identify the locations where success is most likely.
But how do you go about carrying research out without spending a fortune? The answer is more promising than you might think. Governments around the world sit on treasure trove of trade statistics, and many of them are willing to share them with you. The Market Research Library, for example, is a very useful resource.
#3: Choose a Courier
For small businesses, renting premises overseas is usually off the cards, so sales must be conducted online and the items then sent abroad. This means that your brand reputation will be created, in large part, by the service that your chosen courier delivers. This must be punctual, reliable and trustworthy, like TNT UK, for example. After all, late deliveries, damaged and missing goods are surefire ways to ensure that customers don't buy from you again. Take the time to do your research to make sure that you find a company able to meet the needs of both you and your customers.
Once you've got all of that covered, what's left to stop you from entering the global marketplace? Be brave, and enjoy the opportunities presented by millions of new potential customers around the world.