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Going Global Guide Part II: Questions to ask before internationalizing your e-commerce business

Going Global Guide Part 2

Going Global Guide: All You Need to Know to Start Selling Internationally

Going global can be overwhelming. That’s why we collected some of the most important questions you should consider before taking the first steps towards the global market. We created this Going Global Guide to provide you with all the information you need to take your e-commerce sales international. Everything you should know, collected in one place with easy access. This is the second part of this new series. Make sure to come back regularly to catch the following articles and topics!

Research Is Key Before Going Global

Of course, randomly asking a set of questions will lead you nowhere. Instead, develop a research strategy as the very first framework. This will guide you towards the first steps on the ladder of going global.

1. What do the current numbers say?

One part of this strategy consists of finding a reliable data source. If you’re not using an analytics tool such as Google Analytics yet, it is high time! The data and numbers those tools provide you with are essential to your going global researching, planning and strategizing.

Which countries do your clicks come from?

Which channels work best for your store?

In order to plan for the future, you need to first assess the present situation. Look at your current customers’ journeys: Where do they come from? Take note from which countries and channels users are directed towards your store or your product pages.

2. What is my target market for going global?

Now you’ve already gathered some insights into your current target countries. Use this market intelligence to prepare for your going global strategy. Look at your own data: Consider expanding your reach into markets where you already have a figurative foot in the door. Test-selling specific products in these markets is often a good option for a test run.

Is it worth it to expand into this market?

Is there a demand or gap in my niche?

When going global, it doesn’t matter whether you’re planning to expand an already existing customer base in a certain market or to reach a new one on entirely new terrain. Before, you should definitely check if and how you could benefit from this step. A general rule of thumb is that an expansion market for going global should make up about 5% of your total revenue. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the investment.

Of course, you should also consider how the product you’re selling will fit into this target market. Look at product trends in the respective country and check out local purchase trends. This way, you can assess the demand for your product or similar services. You might even be able to research numbers and statistics of top countries with consumers of your product.

If your new target country has specific holidays or events that match your product, even better. This will give you the opportunity not only for special sales and revenue boosts but also for season-specific marketing.

On the other side of the coin, don’t forget cultural differences, regulations in different countries and varying shopping habits. Make sure they don’t clash with your current portfolio and strategy for going global.

Depending on geography, where you’re located and where you’re able to store goods, there might be clever options for you to benefit from going global with relatively little investment. 

Don’t choose a new market at random – it’s a big decision after all. 

Instead, consider cross-border sales instead of fully going global, for example. This is relevant if your budget and means allow you to expand only to a limited number of countries. Due to state borders, country infrastructures and closeness to bigger markets, cross-border shopping numbers are especially high in countries like Portugal, Ireland or Peru.

3. Who are my target customers?

The next question in your going global research progress refines the target audience further. After having collected information about the target market for going global in general, it is time to put your customers under the microscope. Examine who your target customers are, what their needs and desires are and how they like to shop and pay.

What do my customers want?

Learn as much as you can about your future customers before going global. Analyze their shopping and spending habits, which demographics they belong to, what they have been buying so far and from which country they shop.

How do my customers prefer to pay?

Another important research question that is often overlooked before going global is the preferred method of payment. U.S.-based sellers often take for granted that consumers shop with credit cards. However, the seemingly omnipresent plastic is not as popular in European countries such as Austria or Germany. Instead, European customers often prefer paying via online banking or SEPA direct debit to their bank account. Meanwhile, 75% of Asian customers rather paid with cash on delivery in 2018. Which is something that might seem unimaginable to Western marketers going global.

There is one thing that customers across the world have in common when it comes to payment, though. They prefer to pay in their own currency. (Who would’ve thought?) While this might seem self-evident to some, it is important to note for others. Check if the payment provider you’re using is unable to offer transactions in several currencies. If not, make sure to build in a currency conversion on your site so your customers see what they are actually paying. If you’re going global on Amazon, it might be a good idea to use Amazon’s automatic currency converter.

Ideally, you want to accompany your customers on their journey from the very first step. Hence, you should meet your prospects right where they start their search. This also differs for different countries and markets. Search engines like Google mark the point where consumers start looking for products to purchase in most markets these days. However, platforms like Amazon are becoming increasingly popular as a starting point for product searches. In some countries, TV or radio ads are still highly effective. These channels might be worth looking into for advertising and market research opportunities when going global.

Ready for your next step?

Whether you’re going global on a sales platform like Amazon or on your own using your website or shop, these three questions prepare you for internationalizing your business with the right strategy for success. Going global still seems a bit much? We’re here to help! Check out our knowledge base for more articles and info. Or get on board with SPACEGOATS to make internationalization a lot simpler.

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