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4 Best Strategies To Expand Your Online Business

By Natasha Parmanand | January 5, 2024

It’s the ultimate dream for many small businesses to reach global success, but most have no idea where to start. This guide equips you with the right tactics for expanding your business.

Top 4 tips for expanding an online business

Despite their size, small and medium businesses (SMEs) are the backbone of an economy. However, the growth prospects of small businesses are often limited by their location and the size of their local economy.

One way to overcome this limitation is to expand the business into the export market and go global. Thanks to the possibilities of the digital economy, e-commerce is the ideal way to do this.

The World Economic Forum predicts that e-commerce will drive small business recovery in the coming years. But going global through e-commerce is not the same as running a business at home. Here are the four most important tips to help you take your business into global markets.

1. Consult the data


As a business with an online presence, you may already have gotten enquiries from overseas. Perhaps you’ve even made some international sales. But how do you know if that interest can grow into a sizable or profitable part of your business?

To be able to make that call, you need insights into your audience. This can’t just be a hunch. It must be informed by data.

Data analytics can tell you where your customers are coming from, and what the growth trends are. Consult the data, and if your business is seeing significant numbers of impressions, engagements, or orders from a certain city or country, investigate the potential of that market.

Next, conduct some surveys among that audience. Understand why they buy from you. Research the new market, their language and culture, their likes and dislikes. This will give you a grasp of why they prefer your product, and how you can tailor your messaging to appeal to this new market.
Man working on a laptop

2. Choose the right time to expand


The ideal time to expand your business is when you have saturated your current market. When that happens, you can either diversify your offering of products and services, or you can expand your geographical footprint.
The ideal time to expand your business is when you have saturated your current market.

Look at the existing market players in the territories you are looking to enter. Assess if your product or service meets an urgent customer need in the new market.
The ideal time to expand your business is when you have saturated your current market.

If you identify gaps in those markets, or opportunities to meet consumer needs, then this is a good time for you to break into the market. You need to start thinking seriously about expanding your marketing in the new territory, and understand the nuts and bolts of what it takes to do business there.

3. Know the regulations


What kinds of laws will you need to comply with if you want to do business in a new market? This is where the rubber hits the road.

Find out about the import and export requirements, and governing policies of the market. Assess how easy it is to get permits and customs clearances. You should also look into the local tax structures and other factors that are key to doing business.

Logistics providers such as FedEx, for example, often have extensive experience in this area. Your best bet is to collaborate with a trusted shipping and delivery provider, since they have the expertise to efficiently manage many of your compliance requirements on your behalf.
Person using a smartphone

4. Get social


When it comes to international markets, you’re aiming to do almost all your sales online. So that’s where you should focus your marketing efforts.

Digital marketing has the advantage of being low-cost and low-risk. Social media platforms also offer a range of ready-made marketing solutions you can tailor to your needs, while also providing useful data analytics and audience insights.

While investing in digital marketing helps you to reach customers where they are, it’s also crucial to figure out the right social media and digital marketing tactics.

Don’t open a TikTok page just for the sake of it. First, understand how each platform works, and what kind of message you want your brand to communicate. Then, determine the right mix of channels, and plan out your ads to create cohesive yet effective content to attract your target audience.

Global expansion is possible for every small business


Ultimately, whether you choose to expand overseas depends on the needs of your specific business. The decision to do so – and when – must be informed by concrete, data-driven insights, and supported through a network of partnerships with established market operators.

It’s challenging, and not to be taken lightly. But in the era of e-commerce, international expansion is achievable for every small business. Every entrepreneur should consider it.

Thinking about growing your online business by tapping into global markets? Our e-commerce experts at FedEx are ready to help you navigate the digital horizon and achieve cross-border success. Connect with us today, or visit our e-commerce center here.
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About the Author
the author bio

Natasha Parmanand

Managing Director,
Sub-Sahara Africa - Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and Africa,
FedEx Express

Natasha is a member of the FedEx Board in Africa and an admitted attorney and trademark practitioner with 18 years’ experience in legal advisory roles across various industry sectors including logistics, healthcare, consulting, and technology in South Africa and throughout the African continent. She has extensive experience in pharmaceutical, forensic, compliance, and taxation matters and large multinational companies.

Natasha is based in Johannesburg.

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