Running your own business has its advantages. You get to be your own boss, controlling the vision, the product, and the rewards—financially and emotionally—of your own company.
If you are looking to expand, you may have to deal with international partners, which has both advantages and disadvantages—four of which can make the difference between success and failure:
1. Sourcing international suppliers
Finding a supplier to fit your online business model takes careful planning and consideration. It’s a relationship which can make or break your business. Even if you have reliable domestic suppliers, it can be advantageous and cost-effective to find suppliers abroad.
Making sure any prospective supplier can accommodate your budget, quality, and quantity needs is important. While technology has made it possible to order goods from nearly anywhere in the world, it’s vital to confirm a supplier has easy access to a trade hub, which cuts down on shipping costs and travel time. Also, be mindful of any regulatory and compliance requirements you need to follow for importing goods from another country, such as import licenses and labelling and packaging requirements.
Each country’s import and export regulations are different. Though most require package labelling and import licenses, each have their own processes and forms to fill out. There is no one-stop-shop. Small business owners need to be aware of these requirements whether they’re working with multiple countries or just one.
2. Paying your international suppliers
Once you’ve found a capable international supplier, it’s essential to make sure that when you send payments electronically, the money is received on time, safely and securely.
The payment process should be simple and easy. Wire transfers, for either online or physical stores, rely on an antiquated system invented in the 1970s. Unstable exchange rates, wire fees and hidden charges banks add to the process can drive up the cost of sending money overseas.
There are more reliable, modern and simple methods for online global payments. Fintech companies like Veem give retailers an affordable option for sending money overseas quickly, using the latest blockchain technology to ensure payments are secure and trackable at all stages.
3. Increased costs due to tariffs
While the largest online businesses have the financial strength to shrug off the additional costs from tariffs, for smaller companies, these fees are forcing many to compromise their plans for development.
One way for online retailers to cope with tariffs is through front-loading. Stocking up on essential purchases can save money if your supplier offers deals for bulk orders.
Another way is to communicate frankly with your clients—especially if they are rating your service online. If you can’t find ways to offset or absorb the costs of tariffs, you may have no other choice but to raise prices. Keeping customers aware of the situation is critical for retaining their business.
Hackers are increasingly targeting online retailers as a way to bypass the security systems of larger companies and access their data. According to the Ponemon Institute, more than sixty-percent of cyber-attacks hit small and medium-sized firms.
Consumers expect their interactions with online business to be secure even if there is no physical store. For some small retailers, the expense (cost) of cybersecurity keeps it from being a priority.
Be sure to stay aware of the latest trends to help optimize your online business’s cyber defenses.
Since cyber-attacks are sometimes triggered by human error, an important first step is educating workers and training them on cyber security, related to your business, which outlines the best practices and policies. It’s also wise to document your cyber security policies;the Small Business Administration and the Federal Communications Commission have some great tools to help with this.
Veem is a provider of online payment services that formerly was known as Align Commerce.Favorite