Business is going well and you have a solid foothold in your domestic market. You’re ready to explore new markets across borders and oceans. But the task is daunting: Cultural, geographic and language barriers seem like an insurmountable challenge.
Don’t lose your nerve. Penetrating a new market overseas is actually easier than it might seem.
Just last year, China’s OnePlus was able to become one of the most sought after smartphones on the global market in an incredibly short period of time. By focusing on airtight logistics and customer support and by creating campaigns targeting local consumers, the company was able to rapidly scale-up marketing and distribution around the world.
You can, too. Here are five steps to take to gain a foothold in new markets worldwide:
1. Don’t get lost in translation.
There are approximately 3.1 billion global Internet users -- almost two-thirds of whom are nonnative English speakers. So, when it comes to going global, your business simply cannot ignore one basic rule: "translation first." That means translating marketing materials, ads, websites and social media outreach and anything else you use to reach consumers. Our consumer surveys show that a staggering 90 percent of Japanese consumers, 79.5 percent of Germans and 82.5 percent of Italians prefer to shop online in their native language. And, your apps and website can now be translated automatically, meaning that opening new markets without translating your outreach would be just plain “loco.”
2. Living la vida loca-lization.
Yes, speaking the local lingo is an essential way to foster market entry. But, on a global scale, effective marketing is about much more than translating words and phrases; it’s about bringing local flavor and meaning to your pitch. From packaging and labeling, to flyers, brochures, online banner ads, landing pages, local email campaigns and even social media posts, you need words and even slang that appeal to local sensibilities, norms and tastes.
3. Make sure your customer service serves local customers.
While many expanding companies invest considerable time and resources into acquiring new customers, they tend to forget that the real work begins once a new customer comes on board. Successful global businesses do everything necessary -- and then some -- to retain customers and keep them happy. One sure way to achieve this is by providing customer care in the local, native tongue. This can be done by creating an in-house team of native language customer service representatives, finding a third party that offers such a service or even using email translation software to help support customers who can’t correspond in English. Not only will the effort be appreciated, it will significantly reduce churn.
4. Ship on time, or ship out.
Imagine how you would feel after waiting days or even weeks for a new smartphone you purchased online, only to discover that due to a shipping gaffe, days turn to weeks and weeks to months. Making sure your business can effectively fill orders and get them to their destinations in a timely manner is paramount to any venture with global aspirations. Make sure your global-distribution plan is reliable and timely, by implementing a supply-chain management strategy such as Drop Shipping or teaming up with a local fulfilment partner. Remember, the old adage “better late than never” doesn’t necessarily apply in the speedy world of ecommerce.
5. Easy payment methods = easier sales.
Make life easier for your global customers by incorporating easy-to-use domestic payment methods. Platforms such as: PayPal, Braintree, Google Wallet (United States only) and Stripe are just a few ecommerce platforms that support the use of multiple languages, currencies, tax and VAT rates.
As the world gets smaller and smaller, there’s no reason your business shouldn’t be getting bigger and bigger. So get going . . . go global.
Related: 5 Strategies to Build a Global Brand