The global B2B industry is thriving, and it offers all kinds of excellent opportunities for many companies that feel limited within their own country. According to Statista’s report, B2B online sales are expected to reach $7.7 trillion in 2018 – more than twice that of the B2C ecommerce market. China’s market far exceeds the United States, while countries like the UK, Japan, and Germany are quickly growing in size as well.
Of course, expanding internationally comes with its own list of complications. Currency changes can put a kink in cash flow, cultural differences can make marketing tricky, and shipping out physical products can get expensive.
However, these factors shouldn’t hold your B2B company back from the amazing opportunity. If your brand has decided to expand its market beyond your original borders, there are some ways to truly jumpstart your international ecommerce strategies for better results. Let’s discuss.
Decide on Your End Goals (Can we change to “Keep the Culture in Mind” instead? )
There are several approaches you can take when it comes to international B2B marketing and business planning, depending on the way you would like to run your business and what you are looking to accomplish. This is why it’s vitally important to establish your end goals before creating your strategies.
Obviously, establishing your brand name in a new country is an important goal. But you must decide whether you want your brand to remain consistent, or adjust in order to accommodate for other country’s preferences.
According to a study on how culture impacts everyday consumers, your customer’s preferences can vary vastly depending on the country they grew up in. For instance, countries that place a high value on the individual (such as the United States) must show customers what makes their product or service unique, as the quality, effectiveness, and even trendiness of the item is very important to the buyer. However, in countries that place a higher value on community (such as Mexico), a brand’s reputation is far more important. These consumers are not buying just for themselves; they are thinking of how it will impact their family or business.
As you expand your reach globally, you must take that country’s culture into consideration. Failing to do so could cut into profits significantly as it could stand in the way of building trust.
Adjust Your Website Accordingly
As you begin to partner and market your brand globally, there will be various changes that must be made on your website. This goes beyond just language and currency adjustments – there are many technical details to keep in mind as well.
First, you must decide whether you will be choosing a country-specific domain or if you will go with subdirectories for country-specific websites. A country-specific domain means that you will create different websites with unique URLs. This can obviously be expensive and complex, but it does perform better in SEO strategies, as country-specific domains will rank higher. Subdirectories mean that when your customer arrives at your website, they must choose their country location and be redirected, making it far easier to create websites as you expand your market. It does, however, rank you lower on local searches.
Make sure that you explore your options and weigh the pros and cons before you decide. Some businesses do just fine with subdirectories, but creating country-specific domains may be a better option at first thanks to the SEO benefits.
Also, be sure that you partner with a B2B ecommerce platform that is able to support international sales. Not only should your website allow for language, location, and currency changes, it must also be able to adjust payments and taxes according to country compliances and work with international banks and warehouses for order fulfillment.
Remember, your strategies that are in place for your home country may not be as effective when working overseas. Be sure that you adjust accordingly in order to reach your largest audience and provide a seamless UX.
Hire Local as Needed
If you are not totally familiar with the language, preferences, and culture of the country you are expanding to, getting some local assistance is probably a wise choice. There is no room for error as you translate product and service descriptions, especially if you are trying to establish your brand name in a country that is unfamiliar with your company.
The good news is that you do not always have to hire a fleet of marketers or web designers for each new country that you expand into. Instead, partnering with local freelancers can be a less expensive and more flexible option to get you started on the right path. These professionals will have a much better feel for the types of marketing and sales strategies that fit into the business landscape you are breaking into. Their advice can be quite valuable as you get things going.
Of course, make sure that they are fluent in both your language and that of the country so any translations (especially for technical B2B services and products) are clear and accurate. Since this freelancer likely knows little to nothing about your business, be sure that you are able to communicate with them via email, Skype, or over the phone to answer their questions and discuss the vision you have in mind.
Today’s world is more connected than ever, which means that businesses have the ability to access international opportunities easier than ever before. Going global with your B2B company is a big step to take, but it can pay off if you are able to connect well with your new audience. In order to do so, you must make the right steps and adjustments in order to build a positive brand reputation to create rapport with foreign demographics.