Are you ready to expand the reach of your business beyond Canada’s borders? Thanks to the internet, it’s entirely possible for even small-scale product manufacturers and sellers to join the global market. There are plenty of eager buyers out there just waiting to purchase your goods, and now is the time to take that surprisingly easy step. Of course, it’s very important that you understand the ins and outs of selling internationally to prevent expensive mistakes.
The Appeal of Canadian Merchandise
You know that your products are awesome, but did you know that the rest of the world does too? In 2016, a study among Canadian businesses said that 80% of businesses felt that their businesses weren’t ideal for expanding internationally. However, 90% of companies across the country that did branch out were successful. You may not realize it, but your products have quite the positive reputation on the global stage, especially in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia.
Consumers worldwide view Canadian products as being top-quality products, especially when they’re made using local raw materials. For example, Tense Watches are made in Vancouver using recycled and reclaimed wood. The country is known for its excellent lumber industry, so a watch handcrafted has enormous appeal. La Ferme Martinette is a Quebec-based company that sells pure, local maple syrup. Canadian maple trees produce some of the best syrup in the world. Both of these companies use local materials to create their goods, taking advantage of the country’s reputation for quality, and both sell their products internationally.
Enjoy Low Competition
Joining a market with low competition is one of the best ways to increase sales. Because so few businesses have entered the international arena, you can really capture a huge audience, especially if you have a product that fulfills a unique niche. Because local goods aren’t found as frequently as goods from China or North America, for example, you already have an advantage and a selling point.
If one of your competitors is out there selling goods abroad successfully, you may want to focus on a more targeted product. For instance, the maple syrup market already has competition, but you could use your maple syrup to create maple candies, helping you to stand out from other companies that sell traditional syrup. Additionally, you may be able to differentiate your business from others by focusing on your marketing strategies. Don’t be afraid to boast about your product’s origins — the phrase "Made in Canada" carries weight.
Important Considerations Before Getting Started
One of the biggest hurdles when transitioning from local to international product sellers is knowing how to begin. Shipping is one of the first factors to consider when it comes to selling products internationally. Depending on the size and type of your products, as well as your speed requirements, you can choose between road, rail, air, and sea. You also need to make sure you have your shipping documents in line. Here are some of the most common documents required:
- Bill of lading
- Certificate of origin
- Commercial invoice
- Certificate of insurance
- Special packing or marking list
In addition to selecting the right shipping service and preparing your documents, it’s important that you pack, mark, and label your goods properly so they don’t get held up in customs. In addition to obvious markings such as the recipient’s name and address, make sure your packages include all appropriate warnings and cautions, clear identification showing the package’s origin and destination, and the product’s gross and net weight in both pounds and kilograms. Additionally, make sure you include an external list that states how many packages are in the shipment, as well as what each box contains. You should also include a packing list in each individual box.
Finally, you may need to look into cargo insurance, especially if you’re shipping by air or sea, as those methods only offer limited liability. Depending on the agreed-upon terms, you might also be responsible for the safety of your goods until they’re delivered. Naturally, your approach to shipping and insurance depends on the type of product you’re selling, but always make sure you’re fully protected and in full compliance before you send something out.
How to Find Customers
Building a global fan base takes time, effort, and marketing. While you can pursue traditional sales avenues such as cold calling, a better approach is simply using the incredible reach of the internet. You should already have an online store, but if not, making one is easy if you use a platform such as Shopify or Magento. As an added bonus, today’s ecommerce platforms include features that help you to handle other important steps such as payment processing. Once you establish your online store, you can start advertising on social media, on relevant forums, and anywhere else where people may be interested in your product.
As you can see, going international can be a massive leap forward, but overnight success isn’t guaranteed. The good news is that once you step onto that global stage, the word starts to spread organically as more and more people buy your product and tell other people about it. While you may start off as a small fish in a big ocean, it’s only a matter of time before you start to make helpful business connections and grow your sales leads.