The beauty of eCommerce, is that you can expand your business by selling outside of the U.S.  Once you have decided to enter markets outside of the U.S., there are so many decisions to make.  What country you decide to sell into is the most critical.   There are a number of decisions you will have to make to determine that, including:

  • The size of the market.
  • The business climate in that market.
  • Demand for your product in that market.
  • Ability to create quality content for that market.

Content is King

Since your business has been successful in the U.S, that means you have a full portfolio of English language content.  Remember, it is your content that will communicate the value proposition of your product, which will grab the attention and imagination of your audience.  So, the question is, do you enter a market where you can use the English language content you already have?   

Lost in Translation

Translating from English entails more than just a word-for-word translation.  There are cultural aspects that go with the translation.  Words and concepts don’t always translate easily.  So, you may decide to stay with English for now, and first tackle the harder issues, like shipping out of the U.S., currency exchanges, and customer service.   If that is the case, you will have to find a country that has a large English-speaking population.  Even if there is another dominant language in that country, there may be enough English speakers that you don’t need to translate your content. 

Is Translation Necessary?

Here are a few quick facts about worldwide language use:

  • Roughly, there are one billion people who speak English to some extent in the world. 
  • About 371 million people speak English as a first language.  Another 611 million speak it as an additional language. 

I have met people who decided to stick with English only, and focus on the countries with a large English speaking population. There are a few reasons they made that choice:

  • They did not have to spend any money translating their existing content.
  • They had a good understanding of the culture of their audience, since people who speak English as a first language tend to be culturally similar (but not exactly). 
  • They felt their international English-speaking audience was large enough to offer enough buying power, without a major investment in translations.

Eventually, if you decide to enter markets where the number of English-speaking people is low, you will need to translate your content.  But to start, you may want to consider staying in an English-speaking environment.  It will make the transition to international sales easier, and more likely to succeed. 

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.