Via LinkedIn : The internet is the greatest equalizer. At any moment you can create a web site for just about whatever you want. You can become an online seller, literally in a matter of hours. While you most certainly face a tremendous amount of competition, the internet allows you to reach all around the world selling products from your garage. In fact many successful businesses started out that way.
The Stigma of Going International
However, if you speak to a large percentage of online sellers, there is a stigma about expanding their business internationally that has held most e-commerce business from going across the border.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of speaking directly with Scott Szwast, the Marketing Director for UPS, to understand what exactly business owners fear, and how UPS is working with e-commerce business to bridge the gap.
Scott has been working with companies as they enter and expand in international markets for over 25 years, and you would be surprised to hear who these companies are. When most people think about successful international companies, they picture a global multinational conglomerate such as IBM, AIG, or ING.
But the fact is that 98% of exporters are small and medium sized businesses with 50 or less employees. Many of them are family operated or have just one location. In the U.S. alone that is over 269 thousand local companies that have successfully gone global!
There are 3 main reasons businesses turn away from expanding their business internationally.
Doubt. Most online businesses doubt that international opportunity is available. The fact is, for most businesses this could not be further from the truth. According to the International Trade Administration over 70% of the world’s purchasing power is now located outside the United States, along with 95% of the world’s consumers! International opportunity isn’t just knocking at the door – it has already eaten your porridge, sat in all three chairs, and is headed upstairs to pick out which of your beds it wants.
Uncertainty. The second perceived border is uncertainty about how to reach customers in international markets. This is what drives so many to yank the virtual welcome mat off their websites for foreign sales, and confine themselves to the home market. Building an e-commerce business takes so much energy and focus to constantly keep up with the fast pace of social media. What trends here in the US people fear will not work overseas.
The good news is, UPS has created iParcel.com, which is a platform that provides affordable tools, scalable logistics and technology solutions to globalize online shopping. Everything from complete language conversion to SEO services, your transformation to international business has never been easier. All the work that you have invested in making your e-commerce business so successful in the United States will easily transfer internationally. Iparcel, will literally turn your entire business international, with design integrations that will tailor design your site so it looks like its a web business in that area.
Fear. The final perceived border is fear that international trade is an inherently risky business. Many businesses believe that foreign sales expose them to everything bad that can happen – loss, damage, theft, delay, diversion, regulatory penalty, and even high seas piracy. Some of them have seen the movie Captain Phillips one too many times.
There is no element of risk in international trade that cannot be proactively managed and mitigated. That includes everything from currency fluctuations and customer insolvency all the way to maritime piracy and the Bermuda Triangle.
The 1% of companies that actually do export have exponentially more growth opportunity than those whose business stops at the border. These may be small businesses now, but they won’t stay that way.
For today’s neighborhood business, the neighborhood is now a whole lot bigger. The world is your neighbor. Its waving, smiling, and trying to get your attention. It wants to do business with you. Its time to wave back.