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With the rising popularity of ecommerce, many companies feel the pressure to reach a larger audience in order to grow their business, yet they hesitate when they are confronted with selling their products around the world. But expanding to other markets is definitely something to consider.

Research from eMarketer predicts that global ecommerce sales will continue to increase and estimates sales will top $27 trillion in 2020. With more consumers turning to international marketplaces to purchase products, there are a lot of opportunities for U.S. companies to sell globally.

If your company is selling and shipping only to U.S. customers, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Whether it’s the first time you’re thinking about growing your ecommerce business internationally or you’re exploring a new market, it is important to develop a strategy before you engage in it. One size doesn’t fit all.

Here are some guidelines to follow when you’re considering global expansion.

Identify and Understand Your Market

First, pinpoint a market and a region that make the most sense for your business. Many U.S.-based companies begin selling internationally to English-speaking countries, especially Canada. Starting with countries where you speak the language can help with customer inquiries and learning the lay of the land as you get comfortable with international selling.

Next, determine where your products would sell best and what items would be the easiest to sell and ship internationally. To help narrow down the different marketplaces, examine the cultural, economic, and political risks within that region. Additionally, consider if there is a demand for your product and what the competition is like in that market.

Understanding various countries’ reporting, payment portals, and procedures with an additional language barrier can be challenging. So, it’s essential to understand and perform research on the country’s rules and regulations before conducting business. When shipping across borders, there are certain forms that need to accompany the shipment, etc. Although, some countries have minimal regulations, others have more. You can check restrictions by country on the USPS website.

Create a Process for International Shipping

Many have strayed away from international shipping in the past because of manually filling out customs documentation or simply not knowing the process. International shipping can be easy, especially when you have shipping software which can generate customs forms and submit them automatically to your carrier.

This may go without saying, but buying into insurance for international shipments can save you a lot of money in the long run. Spending a little upfront on an open policy will save you time and energy if you’re a regular shipper. All policies vary depending on the carrier and type of insurance, but in general, the insurance protects your shipment against damage or loss in transit.

While most international customers are aware of additional fees that include duties, taxes, and customs, it’s up to the seller to decide who will absorb the costs. When you decide to start shipping internationally, make sure to update your website’s marketing messages regarding your shipping costs, speeds, and policies for the international market.

Develop a Network in Your New Market

After deciding where you want to sell internationally, begin developing relationships in the new market. Make an effort to establish strategic partnerships with companies that have a distinguished website with loyal customers. Influencers and social media players also provide a great way to generate brand visibility and improve SEO performance. If your brand isn’t anywhere to be found in your new, local market, it will be difficult for consumers and businesses to find you — resulting in lost sales opportunities.

Final Thoughts

The opportunities to expand internationally are better than they have ever been with simpler options for transporting and delivering goods abroad. Once you master one region, you can replicate your success in other markets; but keep in mind not every product will be successful in every country. Global expansion takes time and dedication, and although it is challenging, the end result can be extremely rewarding.