With the advent of the Internet, mobile devices, VoIP – even commercial flights and global development – the avenues of international commerce are wider and more varied than they've ever been. The world has gotten flatter and the playing field more level. Now, even the smallest home offices can hope to have a global reach as far as the largest corporations.
By properly utilizing the technology they have at their disposal, small businesses can improve their international transactions. It is not just an option, it is quickly becoming a necessity – the ability for a company to do business with partners across the world puts their brand head and shoulders ahead of locally- and regionally-focused competitors.
The keys to global success
For companies looking to expand their business beyond national borders, there are a number of tips to keep in mind. By adhering to these points, a small business can hope to become an international success.
1. Focus on shipping needs
Sending products to another country is a more complex process than stuffing it in the mailbox for delivery in the next county. There are customs, local regulations, longer shipping times, more sophisticated packaging and higher costs involved. But those shouldn't be off-putting – they can be managed with a guided and methodical approach.
FedEx emphasized that companies should automate as many shipping processes as possible, use digital tools to manage customs requirements and leverage mobile technology to monitor inventory and carrying costs, according to Europe Business Review.
"Information technology has been a great equalizer for businesses large and small," Michael Foster, Vice President of Information Technology for FedEx Express, explained in a virtual conference, according to Europe Business Review. "Navigating complex customs requirements or managing global inventory is now much easier for small businesses. Information technology has greatly expanded opportunities, helping small businesses to find new markets and compete on a global scale."
2. Know your audience
International business requires at least a basic understanding of the culture and values of the group in question. Using social media, companies can open a dialogue between themselves and their potential consumer base abroad, Forbes reported. In this way, a business can field questions, comments and suggestions from clients in foreign countries and offer solutions and feedback.
Additionally, businesses should understand that mobile technology is not a replacement for human interaction – it should be an enhancement. These companies would be well-served not to hide behind emails and websites. Instead, employees, managers and other officials should reach out by VoIP or through video conferencing to add that necessary human element.
3. Build trust among the local consumers
A major component of success in any market is the ability to gain the trust of the customer. People tend to go with products they are familiar with over the newcomers and it can be difficult to break down those barriers.
That's why Forbes recommended building relationships with local brands in order to benefit both. Cross-linking websites, sharing trade show spaces and offering each other's promotional materials are a few ways to create a win-win alliance between brands.
A business could also win over a new group of consumers by giving to local charities or embracing some other community-based benefit organization. By promoting a higher goal, there will be more awareness surrounding the brand and a company can make a positive impact and impression on a new region.
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