For example, Alison Coleman, a Forbes
contributor, claims that startups that have plans to go global someday should "design for scale from day one
." Coleman says that many young companies today are going global earlier in their growth than ever before.
This is mainly due to technology that makes accessing foreign markets possible and relatively cheap. The EU Startup Monitor report says that 88% of EU startups are planning going international within a year
Here are five tips that you need to know to design for scale and increase the chances of successful international expansion in the future:
1. Think internationally from the beginning
Let's suppose that when you started your company, you thought only about targeting the domestic market (say, Germany). Getting traction at home and thinking about international expansion later seemed like a good strategy, and everyone agreed with you.
However, shortly after you started selling your product online, you got a couple of orders from the United States. This was unexpected, and you had no idea how to arrange the shipping and take care of other things related to selling to North American customers.
With time, they were responsible for about 30% of your total sales, and you had to go through a lot of work to make sure that every international customer was satisfied. As you found out, filling international orders was surprisingly expensive and complicated, so you had to turn down some incredible requests.
To reduce the amount of unnecessary work associated with selling internationally, you should:
- Have someone advice you with doing business internationally. This should preferably be a person who has worked in an international startup or larger company and is familiar with legal and other matters.
- Research the best shipping methods. Choosing a reliable international shipping partner could take a lot of time, so do your homework and ask around.
- Hire employees who are fluent in multiple languages besides English. Who knows, maybe your international customers will speak that language.
2. Conduct Research around the target market
If you start receiving orders from another country, chances are high that you won't know anything about how to do business there. Also, if you're planning to expand by opening a small office there, you should do your homework and carry out a comprehensive assessment of the marketplace.
Here are the things to keep in mind when conducting the assessment:
- Understand where your product fits in that market after comparing it with the competitors.
- Find out more about your target audience (their income, locations, issues that you can help resolve, etc.).
- Discover if your product requires modifications to be sold at that market (communication touchpoints, design features, user flow, translation, etc.).
- Find out the best possible locations for an office, as well as potential shipping partners.
A trip to the target country should also be a part of the research for you as a startup owner. Going there and talking with potential customers, as well as spending some time researching potential partners, is something that you should do to have an idea of the expansion is justified.
3. Create a localised version of your website
If the native language of your target country is other than English, having a localised website / website section / subpage is simply essential. According to research featuring 3 000 online shoppers from European, Asian and South American countries, 75% of consumers
prefer to make purchases from websites in their native language.
That's why you should offer localised content for your international customers. This task can be done quickly with professional localisation agencies, but make sure to choose reliable ones using review services like PickWriters
4. Keep branding and marketing simple and relevant
In many cases, businesses can achieve a competitive advantage because of simple UX of their products, as well as easy-to-understand marketing. People like to use digital products (websites and apps) that allow them to accomplish their goals easily — so never underestimate the importance of investing in UX.
As for marketing, adopting a universal marketing theme that can be easily understood and shared across borders will help to make localisation and branding easier for yourself. If you go with something complex, then you'll risk pivoting later, which may confuse your customers.
5. Be diligent and move slowly
Going slowly and being careful is great when expanding to international markets. There's absolutely no need to hurry and start selling your products or services to other countries without having done the homework first. *Image courtesy of unsplash.com