6 steps to start making overseas sales tomorrow

There’s a world of opportunity out there for ambitious start-ups – you just need to secure a globally recognised domain name and localise your content

For adventurous start-ups, there are opportunities aplenty beyond these shores – and there’s no time like the present to set sail and start taking advantage.

Small businesses may think exporting is a risky business strategy and be intimidated by the red tape and logistics, but with various schemes and financial technology platforms in place to help companies like yours realise their international potential, there’s never been a better time.

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After all, the UK only accounts for 1/20th of the global economy, and whatever your position on Brexit, widening your footprint can help spread your financial risk and protect you against operating in a single unstable market. Meanwhile, ‘Brand Britain’ continues to hold great appeal in major and emerging markets around the world.

Here are the six simple steps to follow so you can start making overseas sales tomorrow:

Secure a domain name with global reach

You might be going global in the real world, but ensuring your brand’s website is optimised to take on the world wide web is just as important.

One of the first top-level domains introduced for internet use way back in 1985, a .com domain is amongst the most trusted and recognised in the world; a global standard that will ensure you are credible to businesses, users and customers alike.

When deciding on your web address, make it short, use keywords, and be creative. You can use this tool to check whether your preferred address is available.

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Get a merchant account for overseas trading

An online merchant account is essential if you want to grow internationally and launch in new markets.

It will enable your business to accept online transactions and credit card payments in hundreds of different currencies from around the world and to avoid the higher fees charged for processing an international payment.

There are plenty of international merchant account providers to choose from, so opt for a trusted company that offers the best deal for your business.

Adopt the right currency strategy

Money transferred over borders tends to be subjected to unfavourable currency exchange rates that can slowly eat away at your bottom line.

There are now more ways than ever to avoid taking a major financial impact from these fees, with many companies offering forex products that increase transparency and offer perfectly legal means of controlling the impact of currency volatility.

Shop around for a provider offering a service that suits the needs of your business and your commercial objectives.

Localise content or provide translations for key markets

A global business shouldn’t lose the ability to appeal at a local level. If you want to win customers in new markets you have to speak their language – both literally and figuratively.

As well as translation, it’s vital to localise your content to the market you’re operating, adapting to their culture and values. At best, failure to do so could result in lost revenue; at worst, it could result in offending an entire country…

The Chinese market has had its fair share of brand translation disasters: when Coca Cola was first launched in the country, its name literally translated as “Bite the Wax Tadpole” – not offensive, but certainly not ideal.

Update your terms and conditions with legal advice

Despite its potential to facilitate growth, exporting brings with it inherent risks and legal implications.

This will necessitate updating your terms and conditions to reflect the change in status of your company and the nature of goods you’re trading. Seek expert legal advice to ensure you are staying on the right side of UK and international laws, contracts are in place, and your products are protected. Failure to do so could land you with fines or criminal prosecution.

Some goods are heavily regulated for international trade so make sure you get the necessary permits to avoid processing delays, whilst you might need a licence depending on the nature of your goods, their destination, and end use.

Find a reliable shipping partner

A hugely important decision for any exporter, choose your shipping partner wisely. There are a number of factors you’ll want to consider in your decision:

  • Will they take my products? The size, weight and nature of your products will determine the shipping partner you can work with as many will have restrictions on what they are able to carry.
  • Are they fast? Some carriers are faster than others. It’s almost always better to offer shorter shipping times to customers so choose the fastest one available within your requirements.
  • Are they reliable? Your shipping partner is going to be a representative of your brand. You don’t just want your products to arrive promptly, you want to be sure they are going to arrive at all, and in one piece. Choose a well-known and trustworthy carrier, not a dodgy one offering the lowest prices.