International expansion: fiscal fantasy or the route to riches?

Tech companies are on a solid footing

It’s an exciting time for UK entrepreneurs, especially if your company is involved in eCommerce. Britain’s 228,000 online retailers export more than the rest of Europe’s e-retailers put together. UK companies enjoy good credibility and, with a rise of up to three billion new online consumers expected over the next two years, the global opportunity is enormous.

If you own a tech company with an online presence, you’re doubly blessed; tech is thriving. More and more tech startups and SMEs are featuring on prestigious indexes, which are featuring increasing numbers of tech companies beyond London. This all points to healthy innovation in the sector.

At MPB, our bespoke, custom trading platform has allowed us to grow in a fiscally sound and scalable way since we launched nine years ago. The current climate makes this a perfect time for us to expand into new markets and we’re already laying the groundwork for our US launch.

Don’t be afraid of international expansion

UK retailers who fail to embrace the online route to international markets could be frozen out of opportunities that are actively being pursued by governments and businesses overseas, including the US. Other nations are already beginning to market their expertise through delegations visiting the Gulf and Asia. If you’re ready, go for it. You need to move fast to position your company in this market space.

Markets are opening up a-pace around the world. Business is booming in some areas but facing a real struggle in others, so it’s important to look carefully at where your company is best placed to capture new markets and expand its global influence. Based on factors including GDP, national debt and inflation rates, Globalvisas compiled a list of countries with the best prospects for enterprises wishing to expand their operations.

The global financial crisis opened a once firmly closed door to emerging economies. Many of these made the top 10 including Thailand, one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Others on the list are Peru, South Korea, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico, and economic powerhouse, China.

The single VAT zone in Europe also offers huge opportunities for growth. Dependent on product and industry, now is a good time to cross the channel. And getting started is much more straightforward than you might think, all you really need is good systems, a well-translated site and a foreign language speaker.

To tap into the Euro-vein, you’ll need someone in your team who speaks the lingo and a perfectly translated, culturally sensitive site. There are some areas however (Scandinavian countries in particular) that can be entered using English, which makes them an ideal expansion route for UK online businesses.

Despite the fact that English is widely spoken in Europe, there’s plenty of research showing that it is important to offer local currency pricing and that this simple step is even more important for conversion than a fully translated site.

For us at, the US is our perfect expansion-zone—and one that shouldn’t be ignored if you have the right offer.

Moving into other markets doesn’t have to be physical

International expansion for an online business doesn’t have to mean a physical expansion, at least not right away. Although is opening a physical office in the US, we only came to this decision after extensive investigations and a successful test-marketing campaign. Start by testing the water: roll out some marketing and measure your metrics. And do as much market research on competitors and customers as possible.

Consider the structure of your activities abroad. Will you rely on making sales online or will you need to have premises and personnel located in your target countries? When it comes to moving your goods, the Eurozone offers excellent logistics. For web-based business worldwide this area can usually be taken care of in a cost effective way by using an international courier like DHL or Fedex.

Finally, make sure you build the right technology to support your expansion and use available services such as UKTI; an invaluable source for contacts and advice.

With the right support, systems and product, your expansion goals can be realised more easily, more efficiently and more cost-effectively than you might think.