Selling Online: Expanding To New Markets

With a robust online retail operation you probably have little reason to consider the physical, geographic market of where you are selling. If you are a US centric business, most of your business is online and you probably don’t consider much outside of your boarders.
Of course, there’s a significant number of businesses who are exporting, but the “average” small online retailer is selling to mostly US based small businesses.
You might want to reconsider. What about Canada, what about Mexico? These two countries are right near our border and with some careful planning for shipping costs you might be missing out on an opportunity.
The NY Times writes Now, the Canadian online retailing market is in the midst of brisk growth, and the reason for the fallow years is suddenly clear: so many retailers were leery of starting up in Canada that prospective customers there had few goods to choose from, and no reason to shop online.
The turnaround is of no small significance for American merchants, who are looking to the north to help improve online sales that have begun to slow.

The NY Times article references Canada but I think the case could be extended to Mexico and other countries as well.
It’s easier to consider Mexico and Canada as they are near our boarders, but think outside the “box”. Maybe you are selling clothing, kitchenware, construction supplies or something else that a certain international market needs or craves. Why not consider selling to this market. Working with a locally hired team you could advertise and fulfill your products to a new country with minimal (or no) physical presence needed.
Of course, your level of physical commitment to the country would depend on what you are selling. Selling cars? You’ll need to consider a lot more things than if you are selling custom hand bags, for example.
As your business is looking for growth, look beyond your “natural” market to markets in other countries you might not have considered in the past. Tap into the expertise of your employees who are from other countries or cultures beyond “American”.
Although skate boarding is a hot sport in many US markets, it could be a hot sport in other markets as well. Why not sell your skate boards, beyond the Atlantic and Pacific boarders.?
Check with your local chamber of commerce and shipping company (UPS, Federal Express, DHL, TNT) for information on export rules, strategies and tactics.

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