Serving an international customer is no longer as difficult as it used to be. According to one study, 82 percent of shoppers made at least one purchase from an international merchant in a calendar year — despite the fact that only 1 percent of small businesses in the U.S. export goods overseas.
But filling the occasional overseas order isn’t the same as having a truly international presence. Expanding to a new market requires boots on the ground to ensure you understand the unique nature of consumption patterns, marketing strategies and business laws.
For this article, I talked to two experts who successfully grew their respective businesses internationally.
Igal Stolpner is the Head of Growth & Marketing at Investing.com. As the company’s first employee, Stolpner was instrumental in growing international sites from zero to nearly 100 million monthly sessions.
John Pollard is Executive Vice President of Registry for Donuts Inc. From 1997 to 2000, Pollard served as Expedia’s international director and led the company’s international breakout.
Here are some lessons and strategies you can adopt from Stolpner’s and Pollard’s considerable experience.
Research your target market.
This is perhaps the most important step in the process. Researching the local market will help you understand whether it’s a good idea to enter a specific country. Strategic research on the potential customer base and current market conditions is just the beginning. Stolpner recommends you ask two important questions:
What kind of local adjustments will you need to make (and what will they take)?
Are there any local legal limitations to your product or business model?