What do Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Mercedes -Benz all have in common? Well, besides all being in the top ten of annual revenue, they also are all globally recognized brands.
We put together some tips to help you decide if it makes sense to take your brand global and if now is the right time to do it.
I know what your thinking, those brands mentioned above took years to attain global brand recognition and had to spend millions of dollars on advertising. How is my brand going to expand in a short amount of time with a much smaller budget? Well, luckily with advancements in technology the world has gotten smaller and things move at a much faster pace.
What do Allbirds, Harry’s, Casper and Glossier all have in common? They are all D2C brands that have a great international presence, are globally recognized and have executed their expansions flawlessly. Take note, the oldest company on this list is Glossier which launched in 2010. These D2C digitally native brands all have another trait in common, they all had a global expansion plan.
The first decision to make is which market will you expand to first. It makes the most sense to roll out your brand country by country or regionally, starting with the country that looks most like your primary market.
Take Allbirds for example, they launched first in the United States then launched a localized Canadian website. This made the most sense since the Canadian market was most similar to the USA market where Allbirds was already extremely successful.
Of course, before launching a product to a new marketplace, you will need to do research on that market to see if your product will be a fit. It is a big world with many different cultures so while your product may sell well in some regions, other regions might not be a fit. Here are some questions to ask yourself, don’t just assume that if it sells in the United States, that it will sell everywhere else.
- Will the product sell? Is there demand for it?
- Does my branding and slogans translate well?
- Am I familiar with local culture? Will there be any barriers to entry?
- Are there competitors in the market?
- Are there any government regulations that might hamper sales?
My favorite epic fail in not doing market research was when Mercedes-Benz entered the Chinese market under the brand name “Bensi”, which translated in Chinese to “rush to die”. I would assume they probably did not sell a lot of automobiles with that moniker.
Now that you are expanding globally, it probably no longer makes sense to try to ship products internationally to customers in distant locations. Shipping from the United States will cause long delivery times, poor customer experience, customs delays, and additional duties imposed on your customer.
You will now need to find warehouse locations in countries closer to where your new international customers are located and then a way to connect the new warehouses to your current inventory and order platforms.
With the rapid advancements of technology and the prolific use of open API’s, it is now easier than ever to connect systems together to streamline the flow of data. With the use of a fulfillment management system (FMS) and on-demand warehousing, you can easily connect many different 3PL Companies together to create an international fulfillment network with one singular dashboard. This will give you a unified view of all of your orders from every marketplace within one dashboard. This will help to streamline your operations and make them much more efficient all while lowering costs.
Failing to plan is the first step in failure. It is imperative that your brand has a solid, well defined go to market strategy which is specific to each country. This along with ample research will help ensure a successful international expansion and adoption by global markets.