Over the past few articles, we’ve looked at the various aspects underlying why a company might go global. We’ve looked at how globalized worldwide trade is today, and we’ve seen what influences a business to go global, and why they decide to invest in global expansion.
That just leaves the nitty-gritty of how a business goes global. What steps do you need to take to make the international marketplace a reality for your business?
First – never underestimate the value of a good plan. Lay down your goals and targets for international expansion. Yes, you want to grow your business, but by how much? What KPIs are you looking for? What tools are you going to need to achieve this success? Will you need to expand your employee workforce and what kinds of partnerships are you looking for in the new territory? After all – no business is an island.
Second – do your research on your target market. Many major companies have fallen flat on their faces in their international expansions as a result of a lack of research, and consequently a misunderstanding of their target market. One famous example is Home Depot’s failed expansion into the Chinese market. Assuming that a growth in Chinese home ownership would have meant an increase in interest in DIY, they failed to consider that most of the target market preferred to buy apartments and flats – where DIY projects are often less of a necessity. Within a few years Home Depot withdrew from the market. Cultural elements and an understanding of what your target market expects comes down to great research. Expectations may have to be adjusted – there is a market for DIY in China, but is it large enough to sustain a giant like Home Depot?
Third – Logistics. How are you actually going to enter the market and through what distribution points? Will you need a regional office? If you’re manufacturing electronic goods then adapting the voltage and adapters is a key element of the process, for example. If you’re an American company looking to move into China, then instructions, for example, will have to be produced in Chinese. In Europe, you might need to translate and print instructions in up to 24 languages. Scalable partnerships are key to achieving this kind of growth.
Even if you’re not selling a physical product, but a SaaS or services, the context of how you’re going to approach the market matters. For example, our work with MediaPro is an excellent example of how scalable translation services, powered by AI, have helped make their eLearning processes accessible to multiple territories. Elsewhere, our work localising videos for Adobe’s Experience League has also allowed them to expand access and learning about Adobe products across the globe. In both cases, the business focused on the elements that most required mass scalability for a global audience and prioritized them for global growth.
Regardless of what type of business you have, the planning process for your international expansion requires a deep understanding of how your business is going to interact with the new market.
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