Having conquered your local domain with brand recognition, sales growth, and expanded production, it’s now time to take the leap into international markets. Let’s talk about going global.
International marketplace expansion is a strategic move for businesses interested in extending their operations, products, or services beyond their domestic market to enter and operate in foreign or international markets. Getting into these international marketplaces isn’t easy. It takes time to figure out the logistics and to understand if your brand is ready for such a big investment.
In the article, we’ll cover what you need to know before expanding your brand, along with accompanying insights from EU Director of Merchandising, Parker Van Roy, to create as smooth a transition as possible.
Tips for entering an international marketplace
Where does your brand fit?
The first step in expanding to any new marketplace is understanding how your brand or products will be received. You can gain this knowledge by conducting thorough research about the target international market's cultural preferences, consumer behavior, competitor landscape, and regulatory environment.
“Brands need to evaluate on their side if there is a market for the products they sell internationally, what price points the customers buy at within the category, and how these customers prefer to shop.” - Parker Van Roy, EU Director of Merchandising
Gathering this crucial information is essential, but how can you effectively collect it? Your initial step should be to determine the specific insights you need – are they qualitative or quantitative? Quantitative data is typically accessible through public records, whereas obtaining qualitative information requires careful planning, utilizing specialized tools, and communicating with your new community of buyers.
Types of research to conduct:
- Interviews: Interviews help with understanding your buyer's persona. Having this profile in hand helps shape your marketing strategy and get a glimpse of how your products might be used.
- Focus Groups: Once you feel you have a good grasp of who your buyer will be within a new market, it’s time to put it to the test. A group of carefully selected groups, or segments, of people come together to demo your product and offer constructive feedback.
- Pricing: Let’s think about a quick scenario: your product is worth a high price in the United States. In fact, it’s a staple for most holidays and people are willing to pay. Can the same be said for other countries? It’s still a useful product, but they don’t celebrate the same holidays, making this now a ‘niche’ item. Pricing research will uncover this and help you adjust prices accordingly.
- Competitive Analysis: When moving into unknown territory, using competitors as a guide provides an advantage. You can see what they are pricing for similar products, how they interact with the public, and what adjustments they have made when it comes to marketing to establish brand awareness.
Brands can employ competitive strategies to reach these new buyers and establish brand awareness within what normally would be ‘uncharted territory’.
Cross-border fulfillment and shipping efficiency are critical components of consideration when expanding internationally. The strategies and processes that businesses use to streamline products across international borders must be planned and tested to ensure timely and cost-effective delivery to customers. By not researching and implementing these procedures, you put your customer’s satisfaction at risk through possible increased shipping costs and disorganized supply chain operations.
“Particularly in big and bulky, it is imperative to understand what carrier limits are because this will impact what you can offer customers in terms of delivery speeds and price points.” Parker Van Roy, EU Director of Merchandising
Key considerations for cross-border fulfillment and shipping efficiency include:
- Warehousing and Distribution: Establish strategically located warehouses or fulfillment centers in or near target markets to reduce shipping distances and transit times.
- Inventory Management: Maintain optimal inventory levels to meet international demand.
- Customs Compliance: Ensure accurate and complete documentation, including customs declarations, invoices, and certificates of origin.
- Cross-border Shipping Software: Utilize shipping software solutions that automate shipping tasks, calculate shipping costs, and facilitate customs documentations. Find the best software solution for your expansion needs.
- International Customer Support: Offer multilingual customer support to assist international customers with inquiries, shipping issues, and returns. In addition, keep in mind accessibility and website schema to adjust your site and catalog to fit different visitors.
- Currency Conversion and Payment: Facilitate currency conversion for international transactions and provide various payment options suitable for global customers.
By optimizing these processes, brands can navigate the complexities of international commerce while maintaining cost-effectiveness and competitiveness in a global marketplace.
Arming yourself with the best software systems and data points can only get you so far. The real work comes along when it’s time to finally launch within the new market and do so successfully. This launch stage involves a whole new strategy of its own – a go-to-market strategy. These strategies encompass all the activities and decisions necessary to reach and engage with target customers, convert them into buyers, and generate revenue. Here are some key components of go-to-market strategies:
- Distribution Channels: Choose the most effective channels to reach your target audience, whether through direct sales, partnerships, retail stores, e-commerce platforms, or a combination of these.
- Marketing and Promotion: Develop a marketing plan that includes advertising, content marketing, social media, email campaigns, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and other tactics to create brand awareness and drive demand.
- Sales Strategy: Define the sales approach, including sales channels (inside sales, field sales, e-commerce), sales process, sales training, and compensation structures for sales teams.
- Product Launch: Plan and execute a product launch strategy, including creating buzz, generating excitement, and ensuring that all internal and external stakeholders are prepared. This couples well with marketing and promotions.
- Customer Acquisition: Develop strategies for acquiring new customers, such as lead generation, customer acquisition campaigns, and partnerships.
Go-to-market strategies are dynamic and will continue to evolve as market conditions change or as you gain more insights into customer behavior.
Partnering with an Accelerator Partner
Expanding into new marketplaces, especially on an international scale, presents brands with a significant challenge. Proper preparation can result in rapid growth and increased profitability, while mishandling it can lead to substantial financial and inventory setbacks. It's a genuine dilemma—are you willing to take the risk? If you are, you don't have to do it alone. Ecommerce accelerators are renowned for guiding brands through expansion with reduced risk and improved profit margins.
What is an Accelerator?
Ecommerce accelerators, like Spreetail, partner with brands by purchasing inventory and providing end-to-end solutions for brand and product growth. They become an exclusive distributor on key marketplaces, covering their costs by reselling the products themselves. The solutions they offer may also include marketing, advertising, and list management.
Spreetail as a Partner
Spreetail is a full-service ecommerce acceleration partner, built to simplify and scale online sales for hard-to-ship products. We cut a large wholesale purchase order, expertly list & sell products across 12+ of the top ecommerce marketplaces, and accelerate ecommerce growth with strategic, data-based decisions. See how we took a thriving US brand and launched them into UK territory with incredible results.