This article will break the concept of international business into understandable parts and manageable steps for those expanding and going global. We’ll also explain how Printify features can assist businesses in the process.
Businesses not expanding internationally and selling beyond the US are losing money. The global market moved more than $5.2 trillion in 2021 and is projected to reach 8.1 trillion by 2026. Small and medium businesses can profit significantly from the global economy and international expansion.
There are technical requirements to expand a business internationally, including setting domains, localization, and translations and adjusting SEO accordingly. Financially and legally, there is the need to set up payment processors, foreign currencies, and compliance with taxes and customs.
In this Article
1. Localization – How Can eCommerce Localization Boost Sales?
Localizing content, media, and checkout processes help improve customer experience and international business relations. Grow global sales due to the following:
2. Defining an International Strategy for Reaching New Customers
There are primary and secondary factors to be considered before defining the right strategy for international business for your foreign company.
Besides costs, competitors and customers, international companies need to consider cultural differences, distribution channels, and government controls when customizing products and setting prices for foreign markets.
Targeting new customers and expanding to new locations can use the same marketing strategies adopted at home, with a few adjustments.
Here are some marketing and business practices to adapt when expanding:
- Repeat your keyword research in different locations. Use tools like Google Translate to translate keywords and look for them in Google trends and other specialized tools, adjusting the location. Trends will differ in different countries.
- Set up paid advertising on Google, Facebook, or Etsy, targeting different d regions.
- Contact regional influencers to access their audiences.
Other aspects, such as managing translations, currency conversion, payment gateways, shipping, and taxes, can be configured in the leading eCommerce platforms with built-in or third-party solutions.
International firms have technology on their side. eCommerce platforms make the life of global business professionals easier by offering automated solutions, from payment processing to translations and fulfillment.
Be sure to use available technological resources to localize your company and online store when selling in foreign countries. Below, we’ll walk you through specific resources.
Enable language and currency selection by automatically scanning your customer’s IP address or offering an easily visible language and currency selection menu. Allow the browser to save the preferences, so the users don’t have to select them every time they access the site.
3. Choosing Domain Names for International Business
Foreign firms with localized domain extensions look more professional and committed to global markets. Local domains boost brand visibility in the host country where multinational companies operate and attract localized audiences.
A global domain (.com) offers more inherent advantages for being memorable. As .com was the first widespread domain, people tend to write it after a name when looking for a website.
Local domains fare better for companies involved in many countries, while global domains mainly benefit companies operating in only one country.
Your domain name should be short and memorable but match and reflect your brand name.
Once you have a suitable name, search for it in Google and make sure it’s not taken, check domain availability in GoDaddy, acquire the domain, and protect your intellectual property by trademarking your global business name.
4. Best Practices for eCommerce International SEO
International SEO is necessary to optimize a site for international markets in two or more countries and languages. Optimization for the foreign market assists search engines like Google and Baidu in China to rank and show the proper versions of international commerce sites in other countries.
Similar sites translated and properly optimized will not be considered duplicate content.
Most website builders optimize pages for international trade. Here are some additional technical tips to refine your international SEO:
5. Payment Processing for International Businesses – Set up International eCommerce Transactions
Selling in different countries requires handling foreign currencies and evaluating economic risks. There is a need to offer a diverse payment methods and secure gateways capable of handling international transactions in multiple currencies.
Offer Different Methods of Payment
Debit cards are the best payment method for eCommerce, preferred by budget-conscious shoppers buying with funds already available in an associated bank account. Depending on the bank and locations involved, fees may apply when paying with a debit card in a different country or currency.
Credit cards, on the other hand, allow customers to buy and pay in one or more installments. Credit card processors apply conversion fees, but they are most convenient for everyday customers.
Prepaid card payments are alternatives to traditional bank accounts or cash payments but have a low adoption rate. They work only with merchants accepting their network and allow the customer to spend the pre-loaded funds.
Wire transfers are a traditional form of payment that is losing popularity, requiring more communication between the parties and processing time. Wire transfers are less viable in the international market than for a domestic business, as additional fees may apply.
Many businesses may accept wire transfers as an alternative payment if customers cannot use other, more convenient methods.
E-wallets are growing in popularity at an accelerated rate. They connect to regular bank accounts and require merchants and customers to create accounts for moving funds. Depending on the e-wallet, users can transfer funds between one or more countries without hassle.
Payments made with e-wallets are usually processed quickly, which may be advantageous and convenient, but they add different transaction fees. Thoroughly research which e-wallets are available and try to use reputable ones such as Google Pay and Apple Pay to avoid financial and economic risks.
Mobile payments are increasing in preference due to their practicality and convenience. They require installing apps on a smartphone and connecting it to a credit card or e-wallet.
Payment Processors and Gateways
Here are the most widespread and secure payment gateways for international businesses:
- Paypal is the most popular payment gateway. Available in more than 200 countries, the platform is remarkably secure and makes available various local funding methods. Besides its proprietary PayPal payments, it also accepts payments from debit and credit cards and other gateways.
- Stripe – Available in 36 countries, Stripe directly competes with PayPal in North America and Europe. Stripe offers competitive fees and is connected to the most important eCommerce platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix, and Squarespace, while Etsy also processes its payments through the gateway. Stripe works with debit and credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Chinese payment solutions like Alipay.
- Verifone is available in more than 200 countries, supports several currencies, and provides API integration to eCommerce platforms. The company offers hardware and solutions for Point-of-Sale and mortar-and-brick stores, like countertops or PIN pads.
- Adyen connects to multiple payment processors worldwide, from European services like Oney and Blik, to the Chinese Alipay or the Brazilian Boleto. The gateway processes payments for major global providers such as Visa, Google Pay, and Apple Pay. Adyen focuses on offering an omnichannel experience, providing customer insights and multiple integrated touchpoints.
6. Legal Obligations for International Companies – Duties and Taxes on eCommerce Shipping
Duties and taxes are legal obligations that affect the cost of selling and shipping goods to a foreign country. Governments tax products from other countries to increase revenue, protect the internal market from competition, and control the flow of some items.
They vary according to the product and country, and can be painstakingly calculated per shipment or partially automated. Customs officers calculate import and customs duties and taxes when goods enter the country.
Sometimes, the customer may have to pay additional duties before the shipment is cleared from customs. International businesses must provide customers with accurate information on additional taxes and who will pay for them.
Policy, product, checkout pages, and confirmation emails should inform clearly on additional customs duties.
The more important concepts that should be well-understood:
- Import duty – The tax charged by a government on goods from foreign countries. It varies according to the specific category of goods and services.
- Goods and services tax (GST) – Is an indirect tax imposed on the supply of goods and services. It is reimbursed to the seller but not to the final customer.
- Value added tax (VAT) – Charged to customers when acquiring goods and services.
- De minimis value – A threshold. Products costing less or equal to a threshold value are not charged with duties or taxes.
- Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) – Delivered duty paid (DDP) and Delivered duty unpaid (DDU). DDP means the seller will pay for the shipment costs, duties, and taxes. DDU means the customer must pay customs duties to release the merchandise.
OSS and IOSS
OSS (One-Stop Shop) is a simplified VAT collection system. A seller only needs to register in one EU member state, and the VAT applies to all.
IOSS (Import One-Stop Shop) applies upfront fees for goods sold outside the EU, worth up to 150 euro. When it is used, customs do not collect VAT.
IOSS is not mandatory, but it has advantages. It avoids collection of VAT by Customs and additional charges upon delivery.
The Customs Clearing Process
When a shipment gets to its destination, a customs officer inspects the parcel, confirms value and category, and checks documentation such as:
- Commercial invoice – This document describes the buyer and seller, contents, and value of the goods and services.
- Plans and manufacturing details
- Certificates confirming trade agreements, national guidelines, or regulations
- Harmonized system codes
A custom officer also can, if necessary, compare with the online store from the foreign country to see if the declared value matches.
After confirming the value, the costumes officer will determine whether taxes and duties are due. The product is cleared and delivered if the item is below the De minimis value or is covered by DDP or IOSS. Otherwise, a broker designated by the shipper calculates the taxes and contacts the customer.
Finally, the product is cleared and delivered after the amount due has been paid.
7. The Best Platforms to Expand Internationally
See how to expand your business internationally with the main eCommerce platforms.
Shopify doesn’t offer built-in translation. The Shopify multi-language function requires translating all the text manually, installing the Shopify Translate & Adapt app or another 3rd party app.
Languages are assigned to markets. It is possible to add 50 markets in addition to the primary. If more markets are needed, different countries can be grouped in a market – for example, grouping two or more nations from a continent – Germany, Spain, Poland, for instance – into a market – in that case, the EU.
Shopify has the following requisites to sell in various languages:
- From the Basic Shopify plan
- Theme compatible with multi-language selling and has a language selector.
To add a new market, go to Shopify admin, click on Settings, then click on Markets. Click on Add Market and name it. Add countries or regions and save.
Etsy automates most of the internationalization requirements. Payment processors work in many countries, and currency conversion is automatic according to the shopper’s location.
Every Etsy shop has a standard language, and the marketplace translates the store according to shoppers’ searches.
If the seller is fluent in other languages, Etsy encourages translating the store manually and provides appropriate resources for that.
To add up to nine official languages to an Etsy shop, open the Shop Manager and then click on Settings, then Languages and Translations.
After that, select the additional languages and provide specific translations in the available fields. Besides the listings, add translations to the shop, members, and policies sections.
When selling in the EU, businesses have to comply with the GDPR. Etsy provides a template for writing policies that include GDPR parameters.
Consistency in the translations will interfere with the Etsy SEO. Do not fill the same listings with keywords in several languages. Instead, use the appropriate field in Languages and Translations.
Finally, the automatic translation can be disabled in the Shop Manager section Settings, then Options. Disable the Automatic Listing Translation option, at the bottom of the page.
eBay is a global marketplace, but its system is intricate and hard to understand. The seller cannot customize or have any form of control over translations.
eBay’s system automatically translates some listings. Apart from English, there are local sites translated into a few languages: German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Users must use a tool like Google Translate to access the site in other languages.
To be sold internationally on eBay, goods and services should belong in eligible categories. Vehicles and parts, video games, and movies cannot be sold abroad.
In addition, the seller needs to have an account in good-standing with ten feedback points and a first successful sale older than 90 days. Finally, it should ship to the US, EU, UK, or worldwide.
Once a seller offers international shipping, the eligible product becomes available in markets outside the US, provided it meets the prerequisites above.
To add international shipping to a listing, open it, click on Show International Services and Options, click on Save, and then choose Flat Rate or Calculated. Choose Flat Rate if you want to define the shipping cost, or Calculate for USP to price the service.
Finally, choose the countries to which you ship in Destination and the carrier in Service.
A full-fledged open-source eCommerce platform, PrestaShop offers deep control and customization over almost every aspect of a global business enterprise, including commercial activities, translation, and international operations.
PrestaShop lets users customize language, location, taxes, currencies, units, and measurements.
PrestaShop’s built-in translation tool allows users to add and edit customized translations. The tool covers texts from front office translations to error messages, field names, dropdown lists, and PDF documents such as invoices.
The module “auto switch language and currency,” provided by Knowband (one payment of $69.99, followed by $20 per year), automatically switches language and currency according to the user’s location. The shop’s owners can add exceptions, alternative locations, and various rules and automations for different countries.
Setting up a multilingual eCommerce business and adding a second foreign country with BigCommerce requires creating several storefronts, as each storefront supports only one language.
However, each storefront offers deep customization for foreign customers, including setting the language, configuring checkout according to country, and adjusting other location settings.
International customization is made in the Locale settings, where you can define the default country, language, and automatic translation settings. The storefront and language change according to the customer’s browser settings.
Depending on the theme, it may be necessary to upload translation files using Stencil CLI, the BigCommerce server emulator.
Wix provides multi-language support and other international features for business professionals with the Wix Multilingual app. The languages are managed from the Multilingual Dashboard.
The app works with Google Translate and allows users to add custom translations. It supports over 180 languages, creating duplicate sites in other languages and obtaining local subdomains.
Wix multilingual adds a language menu to the website so visitors can switch to the preferred foreign environment.
The duplicate sites can be edited individually to customize translations. New changes in a website can be automatically added to duplicate sites.
The app also formats numbers, dates, and currencies according to country and provides local SEO customization.
WooCommerce comes translated into various languages and is translation-ready. Custom translations can be created with plugins such as Loco Translate or PoEdit. As an open-source platform, WooCommerce is supported and translated continuously by collaborators and users worldwide.
To configure your WordPress standard language, go to the Dashboard, choose Settings, General, then Site Language. After that, the site must be updated in the dashboard section “Updates” by clicking on Update translations.
If WooCommerce does not support a language, the plugin provides a .pot language file containing the English text, located in the plugin folder in “woocommerce/i18n/languages/”. This file can be translated into additional languages.
Squarespace uses Weglot to manage translations in templates since version 7.1. Templates older than that should be translated manually by creating one main homepage that directs to the local websites and subdomains.
To connect a website to Weglot, go to the home menu, click on Settings, then Language & Region. Then go to Site Languages, and click Connect under the option Multilingual by Weglot. Finally, click on Allow.
Weglot’s plans work by word count. The ten-day trial allows translation of up to 10,000 words, while the free plan has a limit of 2,000 words and one language. Paid plans range from $9.99 per month (one language) to $499 per month (up to 20 languages), paid monthly.
8. Expand Internationally With Printify
Expanding internationally doesn’t require joint ventures of two or more companies investing thousands of dollars in search of international business opportunities. You can do it by yourself with almost no upfront financial investments and no need for foreign warehousing.
However, you need a reliable partner to become an established firm in the global village. Printify can assist you with selecting the best products, adapting them to the local markets, and handling fulfillment worldwide with the best profit ranges.
Dropshipping and Print-on-Demand
Printify works with dropshipping and print on demand.
These methods outsource international production to print providers worldwide, handling inventory and distribution systems across international boundaries.
Each product is printed only after being ordered. As such, that allows extensive customization according to local markets.
You don’t have to contract manufacturing, hold inventory or provide shipping by yourself.
Worldwide Network of Print Providers and Largest Catalog
Printify’s network of print providers is spread in many countries, from North America and Europe to Asia and Oceania. We select our print providers according to the quality of their products. The print providers are constantly ranked according to reprints and production time; those underperforming are removed from the catalog.
The Printify Catalog contains more than 800 quality, customizable products, from best-selling tees and hoodies, to home decor and pet merchandise.
Geo Routing and Order Routing
Printify’s Order Routing feature avoids losing sales when a print provider runs out of stock, is discontinued, or is delayed. It automatically routes an order that a print provider cannot fulfill to the most appropriate one.
The new Geo Routing feature improves further order fulfillment internationally and locally. It automatically re-routes orders to the closest print providers, wherever possible and beneficial.
The results are fewer costs and more profits for merchants, and faster shipping and delivery. The feature is eco-friendly, reducing transportation and fuel consumption. Finally, it improves the overall customer experience worldwide, making it easier to expand internationally.
Printify provides stellar customer support. Working 24/7, every Printify Customer Support team member walks the extra mile to provide answers and solve problems you and your customers may face.
Partner with Printify today, integrate with one of the best eCommerce platforms and start selling internationally.
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