29th April 2022

The rise and growth of ecommerce has made international selling more beneficial than ever. Well-established businesses and new businesses are all able to begin branching out internationally and seek new audiences. Here we will give a rundown of how to sell products online internationally and the core benefits.

The main factors to consider are:

  1. Legal factors
  2. Choice of selling channels
  3. Whether 3PL (3rd Party Logistics) or fulfilment services need to be considered
  4. Choose the correct markets to target

Choosing to sell internationally can be far more complex than branching out your domestic market. There may be specific rules and regulations in place for your products & shipping depending on which country you decide to operate within. This can cause significant barriers to entry. Therefore, it is imperative that you do the needed background research. Shipping and taxation costs should also be kept an eye on. While a particular country may seem like the perfect market to branch into, it may become too costly if shipping tariffs are too high or large amounts of taxation are taken from profits.

A recommended solution for businesses who are wary of expanding internationally is to use 3PL/fulfilment options. This leaves the confusion of legal and shipping procedures in the hands of a more experienced company with prior knowledge in the field. Dropshipping is another option that can be used opposed to 3PL. If your business doesn’t need products to be held in a warehouse, then dropshipping would be the best option compared to partnering with a 3PL company.

Selling & marketing channels

The marketing strategy and channels used when selling internationally can make or break the success of the venture. Research needs to be conducted to make sure the selling channels you currently utilise are standard practice in other countries that your business branches too. Online marketplaces such as eBay, Shopify, and WooCommerce have become global organisations. However, the popularity of these marketplaces can vary depending on the region you are selling in. Not only this, but the demand for certain products/services can also vary depending on the chosen marketplace. Systems such as business management and ERP are usually needed to deal with multiple channels as maintainability becomes exponentially difficult, the more products that are being listed.

The same can be said for marketing channels, especially when it comes to digital marketing. For example, many western companies utilise GoogleAds as a primary form of digital marketing. In China, however, the leading search engine provider is Baidu. Marketing efforts, therefore, need to be adapted to fit the change in the market, trends, and culture.

Choose your new markets wisely

Certain countries are seeing more of an ecommerce boom than others. Background research needs to be conducted to understand which countries are best to target selling and advertising online. Setting up operations in a new country is a timely and expensive venture; therefore, a business should try to get the most out of it they possibly can. Companies do, however, need to consider that the ecommerce climate they are moving into may fluctuate significantly.  

Benefits to selling internationally

The main benefits to selling internationally are:

  1. Reach a wider audience
  2. Stay competitive
  3. Diversified economies

Reach a wider audience

If your business is in a good position in its current climate, it is always wise to try and branch out to new, previously unattainable customers. Selling internationally is the ideal method to make this a reality and expand the business’s operations.

Stay competitive

Depending on your industry and competition, selling on a global scale may be required to stay competitive. The previously mentioned customer reach that international selling can fill significant gaps in the market, and if you don’t, you can assume your competitors will at some stage.

A diverse portfolio of economies

By selling across multiple countries, a business can take advantage of booming economies. Improved growth within a given country can be expected if the economy is on the rise. In addition, a certain level of risk is also eliminated by being present in multiple economies. If certain countries are struggling economically, a business can place more emphasis on the countries that are booming, thus making better use of their resources in a bid for financial return.

How to sell products online internationally

From the information given, research is the most critical aspect when it comes to selling internationally. From the markets, products, and legal factors, research is a must to ensure your business has a viable chance of being successful abroad. It should also be noted that there will most likely always be teething problems when setting up in a new market. This is to be expected and shouldn’t be viewed as a critical deterrent for businesses looking to sell abroad.