Reach Customers Overseas Through eCommerce

More than 4.5 billion people are now online, and that number is growing fast.  Every day an average of 640,000 people gain access to the internet for the first time, that’s 27,000 people every hour!  If you have a website, you are already connected to this growing global marketplace, but do you have an e-commerce strategy?

SBA’s goal is to help you go global and succeed internationally. Here are five considerations to help your business excel through e-commerce.

  1. SBA’s STEP Program Can Help You Sell on the Global Marketplace

SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) provides grants to eligible small businesses to launch or expand their export activities.  A STEP grant can aid in translating or optimizing your website to ensure you:

  • Appear in international searches
  • Are mobile-friendly
  • Can provide options for delivery
  • Can calculate total delivery costs, tariffs and any value-added taxes
  • Can provide digital payment options


2. Use SBA’s Resource Partners to Get You Up to Speed

Tap into the e-commerce expertise of the SBA’s resource network of District Offices, Small Business Development Centers, SCORE chapters, and Women’s Business Centers for advice on your use of platforms, websites, and social media tools.  These local resources provide e-commerce training and can discuss financing options to support global intellectual property protections costs.

3. Do Your Research

Knowing your market can make all the difference in your success.  If you are interested in selling in new global markets, or maybe expanding in existing markets, get up to speed.  Don’t expect a cookie-cutter strategy to work across the globe. Take the time to learn the basics of the most popular social media and e-commerce platforms in your target market.

4. Tap into Government Expertise

The Federal Government has a wealth of resources for exporters. As you examine new online markets, the U.S Department of Commerce’s Market Diversification Tool, Census Market Finder, Country Commercial Guides, Market Intelligence, and USDA GAIN Reports can help check for demand, industry, and county information.

Additionally, the U.S Department of Commerce can help ensure your digital strategy follows international trade laws through its Local Trade Experts and Digital Attachés.  In fact, a Digital Attaché can act as a business advocate ensuring your access to the digital economy and new markets.

 Another great tool is the eCommerce Innovation Lab which can provide an in-depth analysis and report of your website’s international strengths and weakness for a small fee.  The Innovation Lab can then recommend companies to assist you in internationalizing your website and in some cases, this can be done with SBA STEP support.  To request services, visit the Website Globalization Review Gap Analysis page. 

5. Find Partners

Along with market information and “how to” guidance, the U.S. Department of Commerce also provides Gold Key ServicesSBA STEP supports Gold Key services which for a fee will identify, vet, and arrange meetings with interested partners for you when traveling to an overseas market.

As more and more of daily life moves online, it is critical for businesses of all sizes to adapt. Using SBA’s resources can lay the foundation of your business being able to thrive in the e-commerce arena.

U.S. small businesses with questions about SBA and interagency support for going global or overcoming challenges can reach out to the SBA International Trade Ombudsman Hotline at (855) 722-4877 and for additional information on support exporting or overcoming challenges.

About the author