Who is your target audience? Anytime a business opens its products or services to a new market, management must consider the geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors that determine how it will approach the consumer. Some offerings, such as toys, school supplies or nursing services may be targeted primarily to a specific age group.
Other products or services, like snow blowers or swimming pool supplies, could target a specific set of geographic areas. Every audience is unique, so merchants should tailor their marketing and communications in a way that connects consumers to their businesses.
How far will the business cast its net? In a global economy it’s entirely possible that a small business owner could start the morning with an e-mail from Milan, asking if he’ll accept payment in Euros. Online entrepreneurs must understand that, from day one, they are international businesses with display windows and checkout stations in every corner of the globe.
A business could tell its customers that it ships only to North American locations or accepts only U.S. dollars. But it may turn out that the overseas market is the company’s very best sales opportunity. Therefore it’s important for the online business to determine how it will work with customers in foreign nations.
How will shipping be handled? Is the company prepared to convert currencies? How will the business communicate with customers who speak different languages? Online businesses should consider not excluding an eager marketplace just because it seems difficult to serve.
There are several services that make it easier for international visitors to order from a U.S. store. PayPal, for instance, accepts payment on behalf of merchants in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Japanese Yen, and Australian dollars. The major U.S. credit cards accept purchases from foreign countries and make the necessary monetary conversions for the buyer.