Looking for ways to increase your sales while the economy plods along the path to recovery? Why not expand your target market by opening your business to the world?
Reaching foreign markets is easier than you might think. If you sell online, you can reap the profits of international business without leaving your country. Here's what you need:
An ecommerce Web hosting plan
If you're not already selling online, you're missing the opportunity to reach international online shoppers. The first step in selling online is switching to a Web hosting plan that includes ecommerce features such as a shopping cart and secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate.
An ecommerce plan allows you to post your products with images, descriptions and specs, and it gives customers the ability to securely order your products online, no matter where they are.
A merchant account that accepts foreign currency
To accept credit card and debit card payments through your ecommerce Web site, you'll need to open a merchant account. To sell to international markets, your account must accept and convert foreign currency.
PayPal merchant accounts can accept foreign currencies at competitive exchange rates. The company offers transactions in 16 different currencies covering countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Look into your other options as well.
Translations of your Web site
If you're expanding into a country whose native language is different from your own, you'll need someone to translate your Web site. Do not attempt to use free online translation services. They're sure to mistranslate some of the idioms and slang that are a part of every language. Hire someone fluent in the culture and language to translate your Web site to make sure it sounds natural to a native speaker.
A marketing plan for gaining business in your target countries
When your Web site is ready, you'll need a plan for attracting customers. You can use many of the same strategies you use at home to reach an international market. Google AdWords, for instance, offers ads in up to 40 different languages.
If your domestic profits have been hit by the slowing US economy, you can make more money in the short-term by reaching out to international markets. But it's also a great long-term strategy to diversify your customer base and help you weather future business cycles.