SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH   |   4 minute read

Guide to international SME eCommerce expansion step 5: Sales and Distribution

You’ve hashed out a business plan for international expansion. You’ve thought about your financing options. You’ve got the ball well and truly rolling. So, what’s left? It’s time to figure out your sales and distribution channels.

Step 5: International SME sales & distribution

While your local distribution strategy might be a well-oiled machine, when it comes to distributing your products internationally, you’ll probably be starting from scratch. The good news is that having a clean slate gives you the opportunity to choose a distribution approach that’s ideally suited to trading internationally. You should:

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Compare international distribution options

The types of products you sell and your business model will dictate how you distribute your products internationally – but there are a number of options to consider, including:

  • Company-owned foreign subsidiaries
  • Distribution agents who can sell your products for you
  • Selling through joint ventures
  • Affiliate sales channels

Keep in mind that using a third party to distribute your products can eat into your profit margin, so it’s important to forecast sales and profitability before committing to any one avenue.

Identify your online sales channels

Alongside working with foreign distributors and partners, remember that trading online is hugely beneficial for selling across multiple markets – and your online sales don’t have to be confined to your eCommerce store.Selling on Amazon

Selling on platforms like Amazon can give you access to a wider net of potential customers that might otherwise not know you exist. The added bonus here is that you can also use Amazon FBA to manage your international fulfillment (as long as your markets are covered), and that’s one less thing for you to think about!

Consider an omnichannel distribution strategy

In today’s day and age, getting ahead as an eCommerce business means being able to deliver anytime, anywhere – and fast. Omnichannel distribution is an approach to selling that enables customers to complete a purchase and receive orders from any sales channel they choose. In other words, it’s about giving customers as much choice as possible.omni_638_1-600x272

To make your international customers’ experience as seamless as possible, think about ways you can incorporate this approach when expanding internationally by enabling things like click-and-collect, on-demand and next-day delivery, and in-store purchase with home delivery by courier.

Need more advice? Fear not – we’ve got plenty more for you in our full SME International Growth Guide eBook.

Stay tuned for Step 6: International SME order fulfillment

To start from the beginning, read our previous steps to international SME expansion:

  1. Research
  2. Planning
  3. Financing
  4. Essential details

And then watch an overview of the whole international expansion process in our video below:



Are you ready to take the next step & move your business overseas?

Download our SME guide to growing your eCommerce business internationally today.