Introduction to export: How to take your business global

While becoming a global exporter might sound like a daunting prospect to you right now, in reality it’s a much easier – and bigger – opportunity than you might imagine.

With the right digital tools and international marketing strategy, whether you are a brick and mortar business, a garage start-up, or have an established online presence, the barriers to global expansion have never been lower.

Let’s take a quick look at the figures. Half of the world’s population has internet access, which provides huge opportunities for businesses to reach and engage with potential customers abroad. What’s more, 70% of consumers globally already make at least one cross-border purchase annually. That’s a 6% rise since 20161.

In Europe alone, there are more than 186 million consumers purchasing cross-border online every year2. And European cross-border online sales are predicted to grow 27% year-on-year3.

Why export?

Today’s consumers are borderless. They don’t care where a business is based so long as they’re happy with the product or service. A great example is online travel fare aggregator Booking.com. When questioned as part of a Google Survey, 96% of consumers had no idea it was based in the Netherlands and, of these, 90% said it wouldn't affect their chances of buying from them again4.

What’s more, selling abroad can be a means to grow your business, to make it more profitable, more competitive, innovative and resilient to economic downturns. Exporting may also extend the commercial life of your products or services. If one market becomes saturated, you can decide to move onto the next one. Last but not least, by offering your products or services abroad, you can also achieve better economies of scale that aren’t always possible in the domestic market5.

How to start exporting

According to Google research, 60% of exporters see market insights as the starting point and main challenge in their export journey6. For example, you have to know the basics, such as where demand is highest for your products or services.

The problem is, of course, that market research takes valuable time and money, and going on your gut will only take you so far. You’ll need insights into things like market size, structure, who your potential customers are, and how much they’re prepared to pay. You’ll also want to know what the competition is up to.

If you don’t have the time or money to conduct your own market research, a good alternative is Market Finder. It will help you shortlist the most promising new markets for your brand, and also show you:

  • The demand for your product or service in terms of the number of local monthly searches.
  • An ‘ease of doing business’ index for each region.
  • Economic data like disposable income per capita.
  • Details around trends, purchase behaviours, and individual country profiles.

Up next: Export operations

Want to learn more about how export can help your business? In the coming months we’ll look at export operations including localisation, global payments, customer care as well as tax, legal, logistics, and recruitment.

Google’s David Sneddon on how to grow your business internationally