Twill's six top tips: How to enter new markets internationally

Small and medium-sized businesses make the world go around. Any successful national or global economy relies on small and medium-sized businesses being supported and given the conditions to develop, grow and capitalise on opportunities. A huge development step for many small businesses is entering into a new market with their products or services and seeking to establish a base of growth – whether it's the US, Asia, Europe or beyond.
Share this article

Conquering a new market is a big step – and if it is something you've never done before it can be a daunting challenge. That's why we've pulled together six top tips from our recent webinar series “Scale up your business”, in partnership with ITC SheTrades, on this very topic. So, how do you conquer a new market? Let's take a look!

1. Understand how new markets can help your business

Before you even start to look at expanding to a new market, you might be asking yourself, why am I doing this? That's a good question to consider and it's best to consider it early on in the process. Expanding to new markets isn't just about growing in size or making bigger profits (although let's hope those things happen for you!) – it's about ensuring your business is sustainable and can exist for years to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been shown to effect different markets around the world at different times – triggered by things like lockdowns or spikes in case numbers. By entering new markets you're diversifying your revenues and making yourself more resilient – because if the country you're based in sees a fall in trade, you have operations in other countries to help weather the storm.

"Global trade fell by 19% in the wake of COVID-19 according to the World Trade Organisation. Small businesses are far more likely to be impacted by this fall – which makes being proactive and seeking new markets to bolster trade so important to any small business."

Anna Jankowska-Eriksson
Market Analyst, International Trade Centre

2. Identifying opportunities and understanding the implications

The world is a big place and there are hundreds of markets waiting for your product, but which one is the right one for you? Well, you can start by focusing on a few key points to narrow down the best candidates:

  • Market size: Is the market big enough to be worth your time?

  • Actual demand and evolution: How many imports or local produced alternatives to your product are there, has it been stable over several years?

  • Dynamism: How quickly is the market growing?

  • Export potential: What are your product's expected export levels to a market in the next 4-5 years?

Using these criteria will help you narrow down the countries that are most suitable for your business. Other key factors to consider are the implications of going to a market in terms of cost and regulations: 

  • Review barriers of entry: Before planning the introduction of your market, you need to identify possible pain points and market barriers. Who are the competitors? What might be the technological challenges?

  • How expensive is it going to be for you to reach a chosen market? – Things like transport methods and tariffs should be a particular consideration!

  • What are the regulatory requirements – i.e. safety, health, law? – While some regulations might be standard across key trading blocs (Europe or Asia, for example) rules can also be different and specific for every country.

3. Use the right tools to help growing your business

So, you have lots of questions to answer about the markets you're exploring – from tariffs to export potential – but where do you get the info? This can be a particular challenge for small businesses that might not have the funds to conduct extensive market research.

Thankfully for SMEs, there are some amazing free tools that can help with this. One that we highlighted in our webinar series is the Global Trade Helpdesk (GTH), which brings together info and resources from 11 agencies – including the International Trade Centre (ITC), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and The World Trade Organisation (WTO) – to help give SMEs access to more valuable and insightful information.

Through the Global Trade Helpdesk and other tools – like ITC's Trade Map – you can access market information, insight on tariffs and so much more. It is presented clearly and visually too, to help you fully understand where opportunities for growth are depending on your product.

4. Found your market? Time for some research!

Now, while they're really helpful, platforms like GTH on their own aren't the entire solution. They're perfect for helping you narrow down from an entire globe of potential markets, to those key markets that are likely to be most accommodating to your product. Once you've found those markets it's time for some detailed market research!

A lot of people hear 'market research' and think it means a highly sophisticated set of techniques that only highly trained people can use. But this isn't true – when paired with useful tools, market research doesn't have to be overly complicated.

These are the four key components of good market research:

5. Have your strategy and stick to it

Once you've narrowed down your markets, consulted the latest trade information and conducted market research, you will have accumulated a lot of analysis to back your decision-making. At this point, you face a 'go or no-go' decision to launch to a new market.

When confronting this question, ask yourself, what does your opportunity analysis and market research tell you? Is there a need, is your offering unique, what are the differentiators, who are your competitors and what is your Return On Investment (ROI) based on the pricing your research dictates?

If you feel positive answering those questions, then you might have found your perfect market! It's important to remember that every successful product launch has one thing in common: the business had an effective strategy and stuck to it. So once you've made your decision, trust it and trust the work and research that got you to this point.

6. Readying your product launch

The final step is the big one, readying your product launch. Here it is critical to create a plan and a schedule and stick to it. This helps keep your costs in check and allows you to build a marketing plan that fits. Timing is everything when launching a product, so try and time your launch around an event that can help create buzz – like a trade show or peak season for your product.

If you've gotten to this step and are still not quite sure about your market – then start small! Run a small-scale pilot study and use a platform like Kickstarter to perform a non-time-sensitive launch. Or utilize Amazon's FBA program to launch a more instant service with Prime; or go at it alone with Shopify – but be sure to understand the inventory demands, logistics requirements and cashflow position before undertaking something like this.

Twill is here to help

While the prospect of taking your business into a new market might be daunting – it's also a very exciting opportunity! Take your time, do your research and trust your strategy.

When it comes time to launch, you want to make sure everything goes smoothly. Having logistics specialists at your disposal can be invaluable to your business’ growth – whether they’re taking management of your logistics off your hands or providing advice and expertise to help you avoid costly delays or charges. That’s why Twill is here to help you. At Twill, we are supercharged by industry leader Maersk, providing you with a simple, intuitive digital logistics platform that lets you book freight shipments in minutes. With us, you get flexible and competitive prices on the spot or in advance. You can store and access crucial documentation online – and track your cargo on its journey. Try it now!

© 2021    Turfmarkt 107, 2511 DP Den Haag, The Netherlands