E-Commerce experts share their tips on how to expand your operations overseas

A huge benefit to starting an eCommerce business is the endless growth possibilities that are available to take your business from a small one-person operation in the UK to a full-scale business operating internationally.

To help demystify the difficulties associated with expanding operations, eCommerce experts from Systemise Fulfilment in the EU and USA have helped UK businesses to take the leap to expand globally. To show you, if you’re considering going global, that these opportunities aren’t out of reach for anyone.

What to consider before expanding into the EU?

Ales Kylar, Manager of Systemise Fulfilment in the Czech Republic shared: “A huge benefit to choosing to expand into the EU is there is much less competition in comparison to say the UK or US markets. A common misconception is that UK companies may struggle with language barriers, however, all EU countries do business in English so this is not a problem.

“There are, however, many factors to consider before expanding into Europe. I often see people make the mistake of thinking expanding into the EU will be easy, not fully preparing which ultimately leads to many businesses failing to expand successfully and reverting back to UK-only operations.

“I would only recommend companies that have already successfully and sustainably grown their business and ideally, have a team also committed to the expansion mission to make the move into the EU. As businesses need to take time to figure everything out and be dedicated to building systems specifically for the EU market – which can be vastly different from what they may be used to in the UK – and it’s companies that do this that I see outperform their UK sales.

“I’d also recommend seeking advice from others already in the EU market, to gain an insider view of what to expect and prepare for. For example, I work with many UK companies on a one-to-one basis to calculate all the costs associated with expanding, identify relevant wholesalers, and answer all questions related to operating in Europe.

“My top tips to anyone making the move into the EU eCommerce space is first, decide how many countries in the EU you want to expand to, for example, you could opt for PAN-EU which includes Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic – this although a great option, is expensive due to needing to register for VAT in each country.  An alternative approach is to choose just one country, for example, Germany which is a popular option as they are the biggest Amazon market after the USA – which is a good way to grow in Europe at minimal cost and build effective processes before expanding into multiple EU countries.

“I also always recommend allocating plenty of time to sourcing and contracting new suppliers, choosing an EU accountant to file your VAT returns and speaking to them about how EU tax law works and what you need to do each month to remain compliant. Starting with Amazon wholesale as soon as possible, and hiring a virtual assistant to help you stay on top of things.

What to consider before expanding into the USA?

Jake Diego, Manager of Systemise Fulfilment in the USA shares his expertise in operating in the US eCommerce market: “Amazon USA is the largest eCommerce customer base in the world – so expanding into this market can be hugely beneficial for UK businesses and allow you to bring new products to the US and vice versa.

“The US eCommerce market is more developed than the UK and therefore more complex which can mean there are more barriers to entry – but this shouldn’t scare anyone away.

“To expand your eCommerce business into the US, you will simply need to apply to sell products and provide the required documentation. So, keeping clear records and all the appropriate documentation, monitoring your account health page regularly and making sure you’re sourcing products with a strong demand will help you transition successfully.

“A common error I see people make time and time again though, which often leads to failed expansion strategies is not managing cash flow effectively. For example putting too much capital into one product or buying products that aren’t sellable in the US market such as hazardous products, restricted brands etc., so planning ahead properly is vital.

“An expansion into any new market, nevermind one as big and complex as the US can be overwhelming, so you should always carefully consider your plan and if you can, seek advice from others in the industry as there is so much that can be learnt from someone that already has that experience and daily industry exposure. For example, we often advise and assist UK businesses in their expansions and we’ve helped many to improve the speed of their expansion, lower costs and simplify their export/import processes.”

Kevin Blackburn, Co-Founder and Director of Systemise Fulfilment, who is based at the HQ in the UK commented: “Starting an eCommerce business really opens up a world of possibilities. Both myself and my partner and Co-Founder Kylie started our own eCommerce business from home buying and selling products on eBay in 2015. We quickly expanded so much that we were able to quit our jobs and move into a warehouse. Now we sell products across the globe as well as advise and manage the prep and order fulfilment for hundreds of other eCommerce businesses worldwide.

“Myself, Jake and Ales are keen to inspire and help other entrepreneurs to follow their dreams as we have first-hand experience of the life-changing success that can come from the world of eCommerce. We know the benefits that can be gained from implementing well thought out systems and processes that are designed to succeed in certain markets, which can be very different from one country to another”.

About Editor 2434 Articles
Lisa Baker is the Editor of International Business News. As the Owner of Need to See IT Publishing, Lisa is an experienced business and technology journalist and publisher.