Logistics, payments and the changing world: Key considerations to make for global firms
According to a UK government study on the rise of SMEs as global exporters, both of their products and their businesses as a whole, more companies than ever before are now choosing to go global.
The study found that as many as 40 per cent of small and medium enterprises are already trading internationally, while a further six per cent intend to do so by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, it was also found that 25 per cent of businesses believe their growth is going to largely come about as a result of their international dealings.
However, for companies looking to not only make this move into foreign markets but to do it successfully, there are a number of considerations that need to be made. Chief among these is language, making sure that you are not putting a barrier between you and your clients in terms of website content and how you address them online, but there are also a number of other things you need to consider when making the decision to go global as an ecommerce business.
One of the major challenges that companies face when they decide to make that step into the global market is how it affects their logistics and their dealings with supply chains. For example, if an item is already produced or procured overseas, does it make sense to have it shipped to the company and then onto the global market, or can this middle man be cut out and the suppliers deliver straight to customers in newly broached nations?
PwC highlights a number of issues that can exist with logistics on a global scale, and these can include basic issues that are easy to forget for those only taking their first steps into a new world. For example, tax at different stages of the process, be it import or export charges, can be particularly problematic for companies, and if they forget to pay, it can be a charge that is passed on to new customers, which will negatively affect the companies standing and reputation among those it must impress most.
It's also vital to include things such as logistics and timescales. When a business is working in only on nation, working out how long it takes to get a prodct or a service to a consumer is easy. However, when you move to another country entirely, this can be a more tricky issue, and one that it's important to take the time to address. After all, logistics are important when it comes to making sure you deliver what customers expect, and it's vital to get it right to make sure localisation works for your company as smoothly as possible.
Political uncertainty has never been a hotter topic than it is in 2016. Between the Brexit decision in the UK and the US' decision to elect billionaire Donald Trump as the next president, unexpected results in key elections have meant that there are fears of drops economically and financially, which plays heavily into political uncertainty.
For companies that are taking the step into global markets, this is, of course, an important consideration to keep in mind. Brexit uncertainty, the economic future of the US and jobs potential in China are just a few of the concerns that need to be looked at by companies, and although a report in the Times suggests that companies are still globalising and trading overseas, it's always something worth looking at.
Keeping up on world affairs as a business owner and making sure you know the potential outcomes and implications of any major events can be a good way to make sure you strategise well when moving overseas as a firm.
We know that the online sales market is worth billions to companies every year across the world, but for global businesses looking to make the most of a number of different markets, there are considerations that need to be made around payments. After all, there's no use attracting clients and having a perfectly translated website that meets their needs, only to then find out that you don't talk their language in terms of money.
In the UK, we're used to using debit cards or credit cards to pay online, while in recent years, the rise of PayPal, mostly attributed to eBay, has meant more companies also accepting this as a payment method as standard. However, this isn't the case around the world, and when going global, it's important to know what payment method works.
According to an infographic from Expert Market, for example, while the US sees 75 per cent of its payments online come from credit/debit cards, and 15 per cent from PayPal, its near neighbour Mexico has an entirely different outlook for payments, with more than a third using cash-based methods of paying, and 26 per cent preferring bank transfers. So even in a small geographical area, there can be huge discrepancies between how people act.
And it's a similar story across the world as well, with nations like Sweden preferring to use online banking and invoicing, and the Netherlands seeing its shoppers turn more towards things like IDEAL when paying.
What's clear is that there are some real considerations to be made when it comes to payments. While a fantastically translated site is the ideal scenario for bringing in customers, if you don't cater to their preferred payment method, then conversion rates may very well suffer.
Overall, companies looking to go global have a number of considerations to make before and during the process. Speaking to people in their own language is vital, but this comes down to more than just the site itself, and you must also consider cultural differences and habits that can make or break your business move.