The 4 Most Important Steps to Expanding Your Brand Internationally
Your brand. Branding this way and that way. It’s all about who you are, how the public sees your company and why would they buy from you. As business owners, we can become so obsessed with the need to accomplish this that sometimes we overlook the simplest of opportunities that are available to us for very little time or monetary investment. Add the need to expand internationally and we begin to gnaw our fingernails as the stress of what such an investment could cost weighs upon our already burdened shoulders. In actuality, it doesn't have to be an ulcer-inducing reduction of our expected lifespan. Here are four relatively simple yet important steps to achieving those goals.
Important Step 1 - Translations
While Coca Cola did it completely by accident, the direct translation; “Bite the Wax Tadpole” of the Chinese characters they used to phonetically spell out the name, “Coca-Cola” in their ad campaigns represented a longevity of branding that no form of currency on earth can actually buy. They claim to be embarrassed by it, but I have my doubts now that twenty years later people are still laughing about it as they sip Cokes at backyard barbecues. The point is that in order to reach a broader audience with your message, your branding, your products--you’ve got to think worldwide and the billions of potential customers who don’t speak English. To really do this right you must avoid the auto/robo translators and hire someone for real to do a thorough and accurate translation of the message and not just the words. A word of advice? Have a third party, like Interpro, provide translations for an accurate and proper copy for international consumers.
Important Step 2 - FBA
I’ll say it again… if you ain’t sellin on Amazon then you ain’t sellin. The “Fulfilled By Amazon” service is one of the most valuable, powerful, relatively easy to use, and seller-oriented e-commerce platforms in the world today. Despite the somewhat exorbitant fees associated, there is still a lot of room to make money on the Amazon platform. Specifically with FBA, the fact that essentially the sales are completely out of your hands and all the work is done by Amazon pickers, packers and shippers, how can you not be involved? Tying in with Important Step #1, having translated product, branding and company info targeted to foreign countries that Amazon has a selling presence in, can only help to open markets for you in the long and short term.
Important Step 3 - 3PL
So what the heck is “3PL” and why should you care? It stands for “Third Party Logistics” and essentially represents an entire industry of third-party companies that provide services to first party sellers, manufacturers and distributors. For the intents and purposes of this article, let’s say that 3PL’s are one of your best opportunities to warehouse and distribute products to foreign countries without the individual expenses and high shipping costs of selling directly to customers in other countries (not to mention the often insane shipping times). Shipping your products bulk to a 3PL and paying a small warehousing fee and shipping fee when an item is ordered is one of the best ways to establish a sales channel outside of your native homeland and serve your customers there both quickly and efficiently.
Important Step 4 - Test Purchasing
Do you have any insight as to how orders from your company arrive to the end-user? Yes, I’m sure you know how any given package leaves your facility (or how it’s supposed to leave), but do you know how it arrives? Test purchasing is one of your best customer service tools available. Done carefully and discreetly, shipped products to relatives, friends or neighbors can tell alot about your customers box-opening experiences when dealing with what you have to sell. Has anything been crushed in transit? Did the correct products arrive? Are things the correct temperature? Was there a packing slip enclosed? What’s the condition of the shipping box? How was the shipment delivered? Etc...
It’s not only about catching your own pickers and packers and shippers in doing something wrong, it’s about isolating opportunities to do better. To offer more. To say to yourself; “What am I looking for as a customer when this shipment arrives to me?” You’ll be surprised at just how valuable and educational this tool can be.
Expanding your brand does not have to be about multi-million dollar ad campaigns and hackey circus stunts performed at trade shows. It can be as simple as little tweaks here and there in language, taking advantage of selling opportunities, offshore fulfillment and a little research into your own practices. A little emphasis in these areas can make all the difference to your global expansion and ultimately your bottom line.
This guest post was contributed by the Skubana team. Skubana is an all-in-one ERP system that seamlessly integrates with most e-commerce marketplaces, 3PLs, warehouses, provides state-of-the-art profitability and multi-channel inventory management. Skubana compiles all of your marketplaces on a single page to intuitively control and understand your entire business. Try Skubana free for 14 days, or feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!