When domestic borders start to become constrictive and customers come knocking from different corners of the world, shippers naturally start to think about what it would be like to become truly global in nature. Whether they are just shipping a few packages a year to customers in Europe and Asia, or actually setting up physical locations in target countries, a growing number of U.S. firms are thinking and acting globally.
“The U.S. is the largest economy in the world, yet 95% of global consumers are outside of their borders and they only command 25% of global purchasing power,” according to Export Abroad. “That means that any company who only sells domestically is leaving 75% of potential market size for their competition to grab.”
Companies are sitting up and paying attention to this reality. According to Deloitte’s 2017 report, America’s economic engine—Breaking the cycle, more than half of the companies surveyed expect to increase their revenues generated outside of the U.S., with 29 percent predicting revenue increases between 26 and 40 percent over the next 12 months.
Deloitte points to Canada, Western Europe, and Asia Pacific as the top three contributing markets. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of mid-market companies expect to have 11 percent or more of their workforce outside the U.S., compared to 42 percent currently. “As mid-market companies plan for overseas expansion and closing the skills gap, new policies and regulations around trade could have a significant impact on economic activities abroad,” Deloitte’s Roger Nanney told Business Facilities. “The good news is that companies in this segment are confident and looking for opportunities to improve their businesses in an ever-changing landscape.”
If your company is ready to grab new opportunities in the global market and increase its share of non-domestic business, here are four ways to start achieving those goals in 2017:
- Shore up your shipping & returns strategies right out of the gate. Selling your products to international customers is one thing, but you have to have a solid plan in place for how you’re going to get them their purchases. “Choosing the right shipping method is crucial, as well as offering multiple shipping options tailored to customers’ delivery speed and cost preferences,” writes Amine Khechfe in 5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Booming in New Global Markets. “U.S. customers have heightened delivery expectations, which means international customers [do] too.” Citing a recent comScore study—which surveyed 5,000 U.S. consumers—75 percent of shoppers rate shipping costs as being the most important buying factor, exhibited by 56 percent of shoppers reporting they’ve abandoned a cart due to high shipping costs. Additionally, consumer perception of what constitutes fast delivery has accelerated. A recent Deloitte holiday study, which surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. consumers, reported that 9 out of 10 shoppers only consider same-day, next-day, and two-day delivery to be fast. “Also, don’t forget about the customers’ return process,” Khechfe writes. “Returns play a major role in sales conversions.”
- Don’t assume a U.S. success will repeat itself overseas. Just because something sells well in the U.S. doesn’t mean that success will necessarily translate into success overseas. The good news is most American products and services are embraced overseas. But if many of your potential consumers are lactose-intolerant, you’d want to steer clear of opening an eatery that sells only cheese pizza, Georgia State University’s Wesley Johnson tells Enrepreneur. Do your homework with market research, focus groups, and other marketing strategies before loading up that container and sending it overseas, hoping it will sell. And if you’re the first one to introduce a new and exciting concept, Johnston adds, “the product then becomes synonymous with your company name or chain.”
- Utilize technology to your advantage. In business, a key success factor is knowing how to harness innovation and technology to build brands and reach new markets, therefore gaining maximum coverage and exposure in these markets. Tools like marketing automation platforms, content management systems, translation management systems, web content management, and digital asset libraries are all technologies that shippers should embrace and implement. “A good understanding of all platforms and apps that consumers use to access information and content is also crucial,” writes Welocalize’s Louise Law. “Having the right technological process in place for global marketing and localization is as important as the content itself. Marketers need to become savvier about technology, data, and analytics to drive global campaigns and also measure marketing success and ROI.”
- Make good use of U.S. and international government resources. The United States Commercial Service (part of the U.S. Department of Commerce) has officials placed in embassies and consulates around the world to help companies with overseas trade. According to QuickBooks, officers can help you by providing you with insight on issues related to exporting, including regulations, manufacturing standards, shipping, customs information, and hiring. These specialists can also connect small-business owners with potential foreign partners. “Further, countries around the world have trade investment promotion agencies that can help you navigate local in-country business issues and can be a great source of information,” QuickBooks points out in Growing Beyond Borders: 6 Tips for Expanding Your Business’s Global Footprint, “alongside U.S. government resources for American companies.”
For more information on how to grow your business in the global market, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade’s website by clicking here.