Sound online businesses have nothing to fear from international expansion. And one benefit of operating in an online marketplace is the ability to move into other markets digitally, without having to make a physical move. In this article, I will share my insight.

For many small business owners, the thought of moving into foreign markets brings with it equal measures of excitement and trepidation. But the current business climate leaves us extremely well positioned for dealing overseas—particularly within the EU—and I firmly believe it doesn’t have to be a long-winded or overly complicated transition.

It’s an exciting time for tech companies with an online presence, particularly those involved in eCommerce. Our 228,000 online retailers are exporting more than the rest to Europe put together, enjoy good credibility, and forecasts show billions more consumers moving online in the next two years. UK companies that fail to embrace international markets risk being crowded out by overseas firms.

Here are three simple things you can do to get your business trading internationally.

  1. Employ a foreign language speaker
While much of the internet (55%) is written in English, only 28% of internet users are English speakers.

Research from Common Sense Advisory says that 72% of consumers browse primarily in their own language and are more likely to buy a product if the information is in their own language. For European markets, this is key. The European Commission found that 90% of Europeans always visit websites in their own language if they have a choice and 42% will never buy if the information is in another language.

By professionally translating your site into your target market’s language, you remove a barrier to sale and immediately ingratiate yourself as a newcomer who is considerate of their preferences. First impressions count, so don’t rely on time to iron out any translation issues, make the investment in a good translator who has professional experience in writing in both languages and understands the subtleties of persuasive language written for conversion.

  1. Roll out marketing and a translated local currency site
Dip your toes in the water with test campaigns. Investigate the market, roll out some marketing and measure your key metrics. Do as much research as you can on your customers and competitors to be sure you have the right offer.

Research shows that offering local currency pricing is crucial for conversions. People prefer to see prices in their own currency for reasons of familiarity but also for ease of understanding—without having to Google conversion rates before making a purchasing decision.

Equally, having a site using the appropriate country code is important for building trust with consumers. While MPB is a .com platform, our German site is under a DE directory and our French site will have it’s own FR directory. Owning a .com domain removes the need to purchase country specific domains which is an added bonus and a methodology now favoured by Google.

  1. Begin trading
If you have a robust platform and medium-sized products (if your business is selling a product rather than a service), Do you need to have personnel and premises in your target countries? If your expansion is within the Eurozone, logistics are fantastic. For worldwide businesses, international couriers like DHL and Fedex can take care of your shipping in a cost-effective way.

Make sure your technology is ready to support your expansion. You need to move fast to position yourself in emerging economies such as China, India (huge growth predicted in eCommerce, second largest market after China), Brazil, and Indonesia.

And keep asking questions. Throughout the process of our move into the US, UKTI has been an invaluable source of advice, contacts, legislation and timely insight.

By Matt Barker, founder of trading platform