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, but 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: which international markets are already buying your products? 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. For instance, online shoppers from smaller countries are typically more likely to make international purchases, and they’ll likely spend in larger international markets like the U.S.
To help guide your international sales strategy, PayPal has assembled several tools that break down, by country, consumer purchasing trends, mobile trends, local traditions and holidays, and demographic information.
- Consumer Purchasing Trends by country: Includes buyer motivations, where they buy, what they buy, their mobile buying behavior, and potential sales barriers.
- Traditions and Taboos by country: Includes cultural traditions and taboos as well as popular holidays.
- Trade Trends by country: Includes demographic details along with fast facts about each market.
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 major options to consider:
1Using an established marketplace with global reach
2Optimizing your current website for international buyers
3Creating a custom website 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 agencies offer programs that support and finance exporters. For instance, in certain circumstances the U.S. Small Business Administration will provide loans and grants to help you get started – and it only takes a few days to get approved. Similarly, businesses like PayPal also help make working capital available to small businesses.
Check out these other helpful resources that offer information on government loans and how to get export assistance:
- Small Business Administration – Office of International Trade: Offers a variety of loan programs and financing resources for small businesses.
- Trade Information Center: Offers export assistance from the U.S. government on a wide range of international trade questions.