Resource type: Blog

Expanding your business into overseas markets – how digital technology can help

According to a report by the FSB, the proportion of small businesses in the UK that sell their goods or services overseas is 21% – and that figure has remained relatively static over recent years. However, their report also showed that there are a further 21% of small businesses that are actively considering selling overseas, but are not sure how to proceed.

If you are completely new to exporting, it can seem a daunting prospect. Which countries should I prioritise? How will we get our products to the customer? How will we advertise and promote them? What about local rules, regulations and tariffs? What resources and investment will we need to deploy to make our business successful?

While selling overseas will always be a challenge, the arrival of Superfast Broadband, combined with modern digital technology, has opened up exciting new opportunities for small businesses and helped to streamline many of the processes.

Let’s look at a few key examples.

A modern eCommerce website can provide an excellent showcase for your products which is active 24 hours a day. The global eCommerce trend has developed to the point where, according to estimates from the Department for International Trade, over 2 billion people worldwide now shop for goods or services online. A single eCommerce site can be adapted for a number of countries by being set up to run in different languages and currencies.

Another relatively new route to market is via third party eCommerce sites such as Amazon or eBay. These are often referred to as ‘online marketplaces’. This approach allows you to tap into the infrastructure that these companies have already created, with a proven format for presenting products online, an established distribution method, and state of the art payment and checkout systems.

If you have experience of advertising and promoting your products online in the UK, using digital tools such as social media and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, then you will find that these work in a very similar way overseas. Obviously, there are regional variations (For example, Facebook is blocked in China.) You will also need to adapt your approach to suit local culture and customs. However, compared to conventional media, online promotion gives you much tighter control of your activity and budget, and allows you to start small, see what is working for your business, and grow your investment in line with your sales results.

With Superfast Broadband, you can also make full use of modern communication technologies to stay in touch with your key contacts overseas, such as videoconferencing, online presentations and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony, which can offer great savings on international calls.

Finally, there is a great deal of information available online which can help you carry out the background research on the countries you are considering. For example, The Department for International Trade publishes free online country guides which give valuable information on each country and the issues that you will need to consider before trading there. The internet provides a vital tool for you to learn about the local culture and gather information to help evaluate the opportunity in the local market.

So, if selling overseas is an area that excites you and you would like to know more, then speak to the expert team at Superfast Business Cornwall. They can offer impartial advice that will help you get your project on the right track, and show you how to set up your systems to make the most effective use of all the latest digital technologies, giving you the very best chance of success.

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