How to Expand a Business Internationally

Learn how to expand a business internationally to take advantage of the profitable export opportunities waiting for your business overseas and online.

23 May 2023 Jason Kaye

5 min

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Exciting recent developments in e-commerce, such as augmented reality product demos and voice-activated transactions, have transformed the consumer experience. It’s estimated that, by the end of this year, the number of digital buyers worldwide will surpass 2.14 billion as more consumers embrace the convenience and simplicity of e-commerce.

E-commerce revenue in the US is expected to exhibit an annual growth rate of 11.51% from 2023 to 2027, which will lead to a projected market volume of $1,563.00 billion by 2027. China is already the world leader in e-commerce sales, surpassing the US (the second-largest market) by over $100 billion (USD). If you want to discover how to expand your business internationally to meet this growing demand, we’ve outlined some steps below:

How to expand your business internationally

Source financial and skills support

American entrepreneurs do not have to tackle the challenge of expanding their businesses internationally alone. They can rely on strategic support available through the International Trade Administration (ITA) and obtain financial assistance through the Export-Import Bank (EXIM).

These specialized services are operated by the US government and are designed to assist American small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in capitalizing on export opportunities overseas. Both the International Trade Administration (ITA) and EXIM can provide guidance on which countries your business should prioritize. You can use the links provided above to explore the available support and determine which program best fits your business.

Understand your capabilities

Another initial step in expanding your business internationally is identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This process is commonly referred to as a “SWOT” analysis, which provides an overview of how you can develop an export strategy to capitalize on your strengths, or to compensate for your weaknesses.

Some of the main opportunities to consider when expanding your business internationally are the terms of trade agreements and differences in projected GDP growth among nations; since both can greatly impact your business success. For instance, while India is projected to have the highest GDP growth in the world until 2026, the e-commerce market is more mature in China in terms of various factors, such as the total number of buyers and market size

Pick a market

You’ll need to choose a single market to focus on, which can be a challenging task. When evaluating your options, consider factors such as the economic and political stability of the market, the investment required for translation and advertising services (as discussed below), and practical issues like time differences and available infrastructure for handling deliveries and shipments.

If you’re unable to decide which markets to export to, either because there are too many options or because suitable markets are not readily available, you can refine your market research or try modifying your product. Small changes can lead to significant opportunities.

Complete a competitive analysis

As you expand your business internationally, there are some other external factors that you must take into account, such as competitors, rival products, price points, product benefits, weaknesses and more.

Conducting a competitive analysis is a crucial step in this process, as some regions have more saturated markets than others. If your business is exploring opportunities abroad, being a larger player in one market can provide advantages over competing in a more crowded one. Use the same SWOT framework (see above) to determine where your competitors may have an edge and where you need to close the gaps.

Refine your USP

A unique selling proposition (USP) attracts customers to one business over another. The importance lies in the term ‘unique’ — customers need to understand and value why your business is better.

Cultural factors may influence your business’s USP, so regional consumer differences are important to keep in mind. Electrical appliances — like white goods that save users time — are popular internationally, while accessory products — like clothing or jewelry — may be more fashionable or acceptable in one region than another. Finding a compromise between what your business can offer and how you’ll meet consumers’ existing needs may take time and insight.

Set up your business legally

If you’re looking to expand your business internationally, you’ll have to comply with local legislation and regulations. Some countries place higher burdens for transparency on foreign investors, while others have more relaxed manufacturing laws. You may have to register your business for taxes, or apply for permits or licenses so you can legally operate there. Consult with locally qualified attorneys and accountants and make sure your business is compliant before you start trading.

How to expand a business online

As an American entrepreneur, you can expand your business online instead of opening international retail stores. You might already be selling on platforms like Amazon or eBay, or maybe you have your e-commerce website. Either way, with just a few tweaks to your profile or website settings, you can start appearing in consumer product searches in other countries.

If you want to maximize your international search engine visibility, you’ll need to invest in translation and personalization. If you don’t professionally translate your product information or refine your customer experience, you risk losing out on sales. Hiring a translator and a local marketing consultant can help you avoid embarrassing mistranslations and highlight essential safety information. Locally savvy marketing professionals can also ensure that your marketing claims are appealing.

Outline goals and measure your performance

With all the preparation work completed, it’s almost time to start trading. The final step you’ll need to complete is outlining a business plan and sales goals. If you’re unsure of the viability of the market you’re joining, you might decide to go with a trial manufacturing run before ordering additional stock.

If you’re convinced of the value in your chosen market, on the other hand, you may want to focus on brand awareness strategies that build your business’s profile for long-term growth. Either way, strategy and sales forecasting is essential. Otherwise, you risk wasting time and capital on disorganized growth projects that don’t deliver.

As you’re drafting your business plan, take time to consider how you’ll track your progress. For example, measuring your revenue to date is more straightforward than measuring your brand awareness, so taking a comprehensive and detailed view of your business’s long-term success may take time.

Send and receive international currencies

Have you considered how you’ll manage the currency difference as your business expands? A 2018 consumer survey showed that over three-quarters of e-commerce customers preferred paying online in their local currency. They understood the value of goods better, and they avoided exchange fees and fluctuating market rates. It’s not surprising that online retailers that don’t accept payment in local currencies risk increasing their cart abandonment rate.

Whether you’re looking to receive or send funds across borders, Zyla has just the solution. 

The Zyla Account is the hassle-free way to pay business partners and get paid from marketplaces quickly.

  • Open multi-currency accounts with local account details
  • Make fast and secure global payments to suppliers, staff and partners
  • Collect funds from marketplace sales
  • Keep costs down with competitive rates

The free-to-open Zyla Account enables businesses to make collections and payouts internationally – giving you the freedom to do business anywhere, all with the security of our online platform.  Open an account today and you could be approved, set up and trading internationally in 24 hours. Get started or find out more by calling (855) 797-3366 today.