6 tools to take your business global
Are you preparing to step into the wide world of globalization and start selling internationally?
This is a big move for any business, but today’s online tools make it much, much easier. Here are several tips on how to prepare.
1. Online Trading Portals
An online trading portal is vital to the success of smaller businesses that are trying to enter international markets; there’s simply no other feasible way to reach foreign customers. Fortunately, many of today’s most popular trading portals are now designed to be global in nature, which means you just need to pick the right features and tools. Both eBay and Alibaba are popular for this very reason (although aimed at two very different target audiences). Amazon, while once focused on the English-speaking world, has opened up to globalization in recent years and offers a variety of services for companies who want to go global.
Of course, if you are planning on selling through your own website, then you will need a more customized solution that can be embedded on your site. Make sure you find the right vendor for your needs. Remember to always advertise your online business in any print materials you use, too!
2. Payment Tools and Guarantees
Do you know how international customers might pay for your products or services? Start by researching your target audience and find out which payment options they want. There are many PayPal-like online accounts and payment managers that operate overseas. Some are fairly trustworthy, and others much less so. The bad news is, if you need customers, you may be stuck with picking the most popular transaction options. This is why it’s a good idea to go through a merchant account service or other service that will provide guarantees and insurance for your foreign sales if the worst happens. On the way, make sure that the currency exchange (plus fees) isn’t going to ruin your profit margin!
3. Translation Services
Unless you are planning on entering the international market in very small ways, you need to start thinking about translation services. This is one barrier that stops many small businesses from thinking about overseas sales — and it really shouldn’t. First, most international consumers are familiar enough with English to understand what they are getting into. Second, there are dependable and cheap translations services designed specifically for these business situations. Services like Gengo will automatically translate documents, while web platforms are adopting more and more automatic translation tools. Google also provides free translation. Make sure you are covered and you’re ready to go.
4. Export Service Management
Products are generally easier to sell in foreign markets than services, but that doesn’t make the process simple. Export requirements are constantly shifting based on trade agreements, the country you are shipping to, the products in question and many more factors. Before you get overwhelmed, head over to Export.gov, which is designed specifically to help American businesses get ready for exports. This site will show you what licenses and regulations you need, as well as what tariffs you can expect.
5. Web Conferencing
Fortunately, web conferencing tools are easy to find, and the most popular options, like Skype, tend to be used around the world. This is particularly important when you are ready to form partnerships with foreign companies or need to talk directly to your foreign clients. When a complication occurs, see if a direct web conversation can help answer questions and bring resolution. Make sure, however, that you always consider the right time zone before scheduling these discussions. Tools like World Meeting time help you arrange meeting times between all parties to avoid confusion.
6. Global Messaging Services
Speaking of time zones, there’s another option that may help you with less important conversations that still need to occur on an international level. Apps like Boomerang are especially good at this, because they allow you to delay messages until you want them sent — which is ideal if you don’t want to wake up someone on the other side of the world.