As with any new venture or expansion, it pays to do your homework. First, identify which countries to target. Then, you can research the unique aspects of each market – such as the potential demand for your products – and determine your market entry strategy.
Gather market intelligence
There’s a world of opportunity out there. Ideally you should start with a few key markets to learn what works and what doesn’t before expanding further.
First, look at your own sales data: who is buying your products already and which country are they from? What international countries does your website receive traffic from currently? What products are being purchased? With a bit of extra planning, you could expand into these markets, even if only to test demand for a few specific products.
Understand international buying trends
How much do you know about the consumers in the countries you wish to target? You may need to do further research to identify their spending patterns and from which countries they typically buy from. For instance, over half of online shoppers in China use smartphones, tablets or other devices (eg. games consoles or smart TVs) to shop internationally.
To help guide your international sales strategy, PayPal has assembled several tools that give a country-specific view of: consumer purchasing trends, mobile trends, local traditions, important dates and demographic information.
Know your competition
Who are your biggest competitors? How will your offering compete with a market leader who may already have local or historic roots in your target country? Do some online comparison shopping to see into which countries your main competitors sell. Also, see if they offer pricing in local currencies or even have country-specific websites for buyers. This research can offer insights into how seriously – and potentially how entrenched – your competitors are in markets you may want to target.
Plan your routes to market
Once you’ve selected and learned about your target countries, it’s time to plan how you’ll begin selling in each one.
There are three main options to consider:
1Using an established marketplace with global reach (eg. eBay)
2Optimising your current website for international buyers
3Creating a website in local language for specific countries
Learn more about these options in the "Demand Generation and Selling" section.
Locate financial resources
If you need help getting off the ground, some government and government-supported agencies offer advice and guidance on financing exports. In some circumstances, the government’s UK Export Finance can provide more direct support. PayPal can also help businesses access funding through its small business financing product. PayPal Working Capital is a fast and easy funding alternative for businesses.
Learn more about PayPal Working Capital here.
Check out these other useful resources for information on export finance: