How to start an international business

Today, traditional shops are not as popular as they used to be because you can buy almost everything on the Internet. You can buy food, cosmetics, clothes, shoes, household appliances, and other stuff without leaving home. Moreover, you can order it all from any country in the world. For this reason, a lot of people think about how to start an international business online. In order to start an international business, you need to create an effective website that will attract thousands of people from the whole world. So, what do you need for your website?

#1 Three main preconditions for success

International eCommerce is a perfect way of expanding your audience and earning money. Your website will be effective if you:

  • Have high-quality or exclusive wares

You have to understand that you will not be successful if you sell the same goods as the experienced and widely known competitors do. So, you have to produce authentic goods and guarantee their quality, or find exclusive goods which still haven’t found their popularity.

  • Offer a lower price than your competitors do

You have a chance to reach success if you give your clients lower prices. So, you need to analyze the market before setting a pricing policy.

  • Choose a niche

You cannot sell to everyone and their dog. So it is better to choose one niche and become a specialist in this field. You can sell different brands and different items. For instance, if you choose cosmetics, you can sell products for skin care, makeup, perfumes, brushes, etc. Thus, you are not limited to an assortment.

#2 Investigate the foreign market

First of all, you have to decide which market is your aim. If you want to expand international business, you need to learn all the details connected to it.


You should conduct an investigation and check if there are analogs of your wares in the foreign market. You can look for them on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, etc. If you have found the analogs, compare them with your goods. Think about the negative and positive points of your offer. Think if there is a point in entering the market with these very goods. If your wares are unique, do not rejoice just yet. You should think about why nobody has offered them before you.


In the first instance, you should be objective in any kind of business. Tastes differ and clients in different countries also differ. Also, trends have a great impact on what people buy and they are also different in many countries.


Again, you have to compare your prices with the competitors’ ones. And one more crucial point is the delivery. The majority of websites offer free delivery in the USA. You can also add its cost to the cost of goods and attract clients in that way. One more hint is to offer free delivery for orders above a certain price. You will make people buy more even if they have not planned it.


You cannot sell whatever you want. There are special restrictions for certain kinds of goods, such as medicines, electronics, food, etc. Some of these goods need a special certification. If an international business expansion is your aim, we’d recommend getting acquainted with the rules of e-business international trade. Don’t spend much time on it, you can refer to eBay which contains the list of banned goods and the rules of international trade.

#3 Get stores that ship internationally prepared

Stores that ship internationally need specific preparation. First of all, you have to create an English version of your website. Later, if you get a chance to expand, you can translate the website into more languages depending on your target audience.

The next crucial thing to do is to describe the return policy, and give information about delivery and payment methods. You can take it from other foreign websites and correct it in correspondence with your terms. We recommend you give this text to a legal expert to check everything. You need to compare the pricing policies of several delivery services and choose the most appropriate one.

One more important thing is the delivery period. Usually, the majority of people are willing to overpay but not to wait for an order for several weeks. It is also preferable to choose a delivery service with the ability of tracking orders.

Speaking of payment methods, there are many of them but, as a rule, foreigners prefer PayPal because it guarantees a payback in cases of scams by sellers or customers.

You should hire English-speaking managers or be ready to communicate with customers by yourself.
If you sell internationally, you will face different time zones. For your clients not to worry, you have to designate working hours and times when they can receive feedback.

#4 Good advertising sells everything

You are free to use traditional methods to attract foreign customers, such as social media, contextual advertising, search promotion, Google AdWords, etc.

Firstly, we recommend creating a profile on Instagram. It is a free and efficient way of attracting customers. During the initial stages, you can even start selling some goods on Instagram, but, if you have an extensive audience, it will be difficult and you will need a website anyway. The most important thing on Instagram is to post bright and beautiful photos. It is so important that the majority of sellers hire SMM managers who are responsible for efficient content.

Texts under photos also play a key role. If you do not want to create several accounts, you can post text in both your native language and English. To understand how it works, subscribe to accounts with similar goods and analyze their promotion strategy.

Facebook is yet another way of advertising your products. However, some people claim that it is more efficient for premium and high-priced goods. Google AdWords is also a good way of showing your goods to a broad audience. Make your advertisement short and simple but eye-catching and you will definitely win over the TA attention.

#5 Start small

A high-quality website, good advertising and employees cost money. And often these are huge sums of money that are unaffordable for beginners. You can start not only on Instagram, you can also use widely known marketplaces to get first customers. They are Asos, eBay, Amazon, Zappos, Etsy, etc. All of them have different terms. Usually, they work on a cash basis. But you get an extremely broad audience in many countries of the world. Nowhere will you find as many clients as you can find on marketplaces.

#6 Use advantage of Shopify

To avoid numerous issues, save time and money, we recommend you make use of the Shopify international platform. What is Shopify? Shopify development is a SaaS constructor for creating online shops. Using it, you will be able to shift your focus from the technical side to the marketing strategy.

Why do you need it? You will get ready templates, work with mobile devices, flexible design, SEO optimization, PayPal payment method, 128-bit encryption, 24/7 customer support, etc. Moreover, you will enjoy Shopify international shipping. You should know that Shopify international shipping rates depend on your choice of delivery service. Do not worry that your website will be similar to other ones made with the help of Shopify. You get broad opportunities for creating your own individual design and determining your own terms.

Follow these tips and you might well get yourself a popular eCommerce store that will bring you commercial successful globally.

A source



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

A team of Shopify professionals, sharing the insights from a decade of Shopify hands-on experience.