A startup small business’s guide to international expansion

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Small businesses play a significant role in providing job opportunities and impacting economic development. However, as a small business owner, you must also consider your growth and expansion to stay competitive and relevant. One way your startup or small business can grow in its respective industry is to expand into the international market through e-commerce. 

E-commerce has made it easier for small businesses in Cambodia to expand globally. The advantages of international market expansion through e-commerce include more revenue and profitability, better market share, and a boost in brand recognition.

Expanding your small business in Cambodia into new markets through e-commerce can be a challenge. That’s why you must have it all planned out with a global expansion strategy.

What is a global expansion strategy?

A global expansion strategy is a formal business plan examining the company’s viability of expanding into new markets, its potential risks, and possible solutions to these obstacles. When developing your business’s global expansion strategy, you must consider different factors, such as cultural differences, legal and regulatory requirements, logistics, and economic conditions. Your small business should fully understand your international market to build trust, compete with other local and global companies, and achieve your revenue goals.

How to develop a global expansion strategy with e-commerce

You can expand you small business on an international scale with this useful guide by DHL Express.

1. Consider your target market

The destination country planned for your international expansion must have a high demand for your product. If not, expanding your business into this new market may not be feasible. 

  • Rely on analytics: Incorporate Google Analytics into your market expansion strategy to identify the international traffic on your e-commerce website, tracking across online devices and platforms. Google Analytics can be beneficial in understanding your customers’ buying journey across different metrics, like unique visitors to your website and engagement rates. Furthermore, you can pair these metrics with specific dimensions; for example, you can determine which international markets have the most potential for your business.
  • Conduct research: Identify which countries have the highest demand for your product and see if there is a gap in the market which your business could fill. Your research should also include consumer spending habits, buying motivations, and possible obstacles to international shipping. As a result, you will have comprehensive information on your market and the size of the opportunity. 
  • Analyse competitors: Discover where your competitors are also selling their products. Knowing where they are expanding their business also helps you know which international market has the potential for your business. 

2. Understand the rules and regulations of exporting products to destination countries

For international shipping, you must first check customs and import regulations for Cambodia and your destination country. Firstly, you should know the rules and regulations for exporting goods from Cambodia. According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), some goods may be prohibited or restricted from export due to the following: 

  • Safeguarding national security
  • Preserving public order and upholding ethical and moral values
  • Prioritising the protection of human, animal, and botanical health and welfare
  • Preserving the national heritage encompassing artistic, historic, and anthropological value
  • Conserving natural resources for sustainable use
  • Adhering to existing laws and regulations
  • Meeting obligations under United Nations Conventions

Export goods must be reported at a customs office or a location determined by the Director of Customs. All export goods must undergo an assessment by the GDCE as a spot check, primary, or in detail. Export goods can only be released when the documents are approved, the export tax has been paid, and the examination has been completed, as per the Council For The Development Of Cambodia. 

Aside from Cambodia’s international shipping regulations, consider the destination country’s import rules and regulations. Each country also has its own rules, and some are stricter than others. Therefore, you must research on the prohibited or restricted items, documentation, and procedure for shipping your goods cross-border. Once you are all set, your reliable delivery partner can handle the rest.

3. Account for extra duties and taxes

First check customs and import regulations for Cambodia and your destination country if you want to ship overseas. According to the Council For The Development Of Cambodia, some goods may have an export tax levied, including natural rubber, uncut precious stones, processed wood, and fish or other aquatic products. Before shipping overseas, you must also make sure that you check the tax imposed on your goods. 

Typically, the payment of duties and taxes can be shouldered by the receiver or customer. Should this be the case, make sure that you are clear about the fees throughout your e-commerce website and the transaction process. That way, your customer will not receive an unexpected tax bill, which may damage their opinion of your brand. Moreover, if customers are dissatisfied with “unexpected shipping fees,” you may face cart abandonment. What our team at DHL Express recommends, however, is that you consider absorbing the shipping fees into the cost of your products so that you can give your customers a simple, all-in-one price when they purchase online. 

4. Update your e-commerce website

If you plan to expand your business into an international market, your e-commerce website needs proper management and regular updates. Here is what you need to keep in mind:

  • Translate your website into the local language of each target market. Local translation helps your business connect with potential customers and build trust, which is essential in cultures where relationship-building is valued.
  • Offer international getaways that include popular payment methods of your destination country. If you want to succeed in international e-commerce, you must offer modes of payment that cater to the preferences of the local market. Furthermore, make sure to display your product prices in the local currency. Some of the best payment getaways for e-commerce include PayWay, iPay88, and ACLEDA. 
  • If you are selling to a country for the first time, a good strategy would be to sell at an online marketplace first, like Amazon, TaoBao, or Aliexpress. This allows you to scale and measure the demand for your product before investing in a localised, independent website. Moreover, you will benefit from the amount of traffic the online marketplace has, instantly putting you in front of numerous potential customers.

Want to know the weak spots of your international e-commerce strategy? You can check out DHL Express’s website health check to see what your website can improve on.

5. Partner with a reliable international shipping company

Entrusting your international shipping to a reliable delivery service is crucial in ensuring optimal customer service. Since e-commerce businesses rely heavily on shipping to bring products to customers, any delay or mishandling in the overseas shipping process can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction and the reputation of your business. Therefore, when it comes to shipping to your global market, partner with DHL Express. 

Work with DHL Express for overseas shipping

DHL Express is a global leader in logistics and has a proven track record of providing fast and reliable international shipping services. With our extensive network of shipping routes in over 220 countries, we can transport your goods quickly and efficiently to almost any destination worldwide. We also offer a range of value-added services, such as tracking to ensure your shipments arrive on time and in excellent condition. Learn more about why DHL Express is the best choice for international shipping or see it for yourself when you open a DHL Express business account.