Reach international customers online

More and more companies in Scotland are selling online to international markets as a key element of their export plan. By 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.66 billion global digital buyers in 2016.*

How can I get involved?

Doing business abroad doesn’t mean you have to set up operations in-market. If your sales are doing well in the UK, then it’s a no-brainer to get set up to grow your international sales quickly online, whether you’re a product or service-led business. It’ll save you time and money.

With 90% of sales being exported, Michael Corrigan, co-founder of innovative travel pillow company TRTL, shares his ambition and insights on how to grow a successful global business online. 

"Selling online has been a huge opportunity for us," explains Michael. "That’s key for a brand like us because we can keep the brand communication with the customer as clean and as clear as possible."

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How to sell effectively online

  • Ensure your website is set up to engage with your target audience and that transactions can be made digitally
  • Ensure you have the capacity and stock in place to undertake online sales effectively to meet demand
  • Look to translate your website into the target market language or, if this is too expensive or you don’t have language skills in-house, translate a simple landing page and keywords into the appropriate language 
  • Look to register a domain name in the target language – for example, .de for the German market and .fr for the French market
  • Consider local currency price points that can go up on your website, but make sure these prices align and don’t undercut the prices your export partner may be selling your goods or services at in market
  • Ensure your website and any accompanying social media activity complies with local laws for online sales and data protection, and you have the terms and conditions of sale clearly stated on your website, including your delivery terms and any refunds policy

Building your customer base online

The next stage is to build your customer base online. Your website address should be on your business card and any marketing or point of sale material you have in place for your target market.

Using social media can be a very effective way of creating brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. It also allows you to engage with your customers and get immediate feedback on your product or service. Do your research into social media channels/usage for your target market and develop a social media strategy to support your marketing efforts.

Alongside more traditional forms of social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you might also consider using market influencers or bloggers in your target market to endorse your product or service.

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Using online marketplaces 

Another option for selling products is to register with an online marketplace which covers geographic markets such as Amazon, Ebay or CDiscount in France.

The awareness and use of online marketplaces is growing rapidly, particularly across EU markets, but it’s important to choose the marketplace with the best fit for your product.

Online marketplaces allow companies to register their products on the site for either a listing fee or on a commission basis, and all sales transactions are processed by the market operator. 

However, you may achieve greater volume of sales in your target markets through direct trade sales to retail outlets, either directly or through your export partner, rather than through individual consumer sales online. And you need to take into account you’ll still be responsible for dispatching the individual orders. 

You’ll also have to cover the listings fee or marketplace commission in your pricing, and be able to manage demand for your product generated by the marketplace. 

Further hints and tips for selling online

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Need some expert advice?

Our team are on hand to answer your questions and explain the support we can offer to help your business suceeed