Starting to sell online to foreign countries is never easy, especially in countries where e-commerce is still in its developing stage. As a small business owners wanting to sell online internationally, we face significant barriers like deciding for the best and affordable platform to handle sales transactions,  planning international delivery options and ways of shipping, and writing documentation about products as well as management plans, but  barriers  that I think we deal most are lots of cultural differences. However, don’t get discouraged, there is a huge opportunity for web merchants to enter virtually in different territories and define a niche while fighting challenges to work their way through.

From my personal experiences, there are some ideas that can help you start your way up securely whether you are a working mom starting from home or a retailer with a brick and mortar store.

  • Redesign and create banners, ads and business communication that addresses Latin-American consumers. Your business marketing communications must include things your audience can relate to. Having a bilingual website and staff will help a lot; but if this seems impossible for now, at least translate critical information which will help finalize sales.
  • Visit blogs and networks your target market hangs out most. Get to know their needs. Even though some consumers are in the lookout for technology, brands and trends, some basic goods are just a necessity and cannot be found in their local stores.
  • Check and compare your prices. Product costs and consumer prices in the US can get pretty competitive compare to those ones shown in few commercial portals in Hispanic countries. A leader eCommerce website in Latin-America like www.mercadolibre.com, for example, serves you as price indicator; you can see how much other merchants are charging for the same product, or what product are more popular in that region. You can even think of new ways to create special marketing campaigns for them
  • Ship locally. No doubt. If your interest is to place your product in your customer’s hands directly, then find and make connections with good Spanish couriers and cargo companies; especially in the south of US –  I still find them cheaper there :-). Otherwise, provide information about couriers you work with and your customer can register themselves; in this case, you only worry about shipping to their courier addresses (locally), and the courier company personally handled the shipping to your customer actual destination. Most South American consumers complain about retailers not selling to them, not understanding business shipping policies, and finally whether trusting the business website. A good solution, always offer your visitors information about how you do the shipping and handling of your products because this is the question most asked: where and when will I get my product?   What still have worked for me is that I collect information of couriers who deliver to countries which I receive most website visits, then I upload that information and make it accessible in my websites or via email to specific customers. This way they can decide what to do next.
  • Sell by social networking collaboration. Use your prefer social network platform, a blog, a video channel, etc, and make yourself accessible to your customers and business contacts. Help them trust you the same way you want to trust them. Listen to their feedback and ponder if possible changes will make that positive impact in your business.  Join groups with international business information, search for any kind of affiliation that will provide business relationships as for  international shipping companies, as well as for Spanish or Latino business agents, Spanish consultants, and related topics.  Get to know your target market in South America by networking with people from those places. There even are  small business agents who would help you market your product in those countries, sometimes for a simple referral or marketing exchange. Don’t go alone. Ask for support at the same time you boost other people’s businesses – after all, this is what social marketing and business support are all about.

There are many things happening when you start running your small business online I hope these ideas serve as small steps in this long journey. At the time of publishing the product online, you are not selling to Hispanics in the United States only but Latinos oversea. Keep this in mind.

Are you actually selling to Hispanics out of US? What are your best marketing ideas that worked for your business? Let us know in the comments section below.