Before you dive head-first into global ecommerce sales, evaluate your short-term goals.  It may be that you should stay close to home for your first step when expanding into international sales. 

There are a lot of lessons to learn when you expand outside of the U.S.  The goal is to make those lessons constructive, and not expensive.  It may be that you see big returns selling into a place like India.  But there are potholes and booby traps all along the way that could cost you a lot of money if you make a mistake. 

Canada Is Right Around the Corner

Canada is a great first step in the learning curve of selling internationally.  You’ll be able to get a feel for:

  • Currency exchange
  • Customs
  • Foreign regulations
  • Foreign language (French Canadian)

At the same time, you don’t have to worry about:

  • Containers for boat transportation
  • Translation (you can choose to not do business in Montreal.  All the other provinces in Canada do not require French Canadian).
  • Long distance, foreign language customer service.
  • Extreme time-zone adjustment

Canada has a vibrant and developed ecommerce market.   In many cases, the same companies that sell through ecommerce in the U.S. have outlets in Canada.  Once you are successful in the U.S., many of those companies will help you expand into Canada.

One Step at a Time

As the old saying goes, “the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”.  In other words, don’t attempt a massive international ecommerce expansion if you have not sold outside of the U.S. before.  Start small, and learn from each expansion.  Canada is a large enough market for your investment to pay off, but small enough and close enough to the U.S. market that you can learn without breaking your bank account.  

Perry Goldstein
Perry Goldstein

Perry Goldstein is an electronics industry veteran, with over 40 years of experience in manufacturer sales and marketing in both the consumer electronics and Pro A/V spaces. He has managed sales in both B2B and B2C markets.