How to internationalize your SME and scale your sales through the online channel

The strategies can be very diverse depending on the nature of the company, its objectives, and available resources


30% of the world’s population bought through the Internet in 2017 and this percentage will approach 50% in the next five years, according to ICEX Spain Exportación e Inversiones. This exponential growth highlights the dimension and enormous potential of this channel as a means of commercialization.

In addition, the countries of the European Union are among the preferred international destinations for 19% of the total number of companies that sell online.


internacionalize your SME

According to the AFI report published this past March, the strategies to internationalize your SME through the online channel can be very diverse, depending on the nature of the company, as well as its objectives and available resources. We can distinguish three main online business models:

1) Use of marketplace

E-commerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay or Alibaba act as meeting points between a large number of buyers and sellers. The latter have to pay a commission when they make a sale or a fee for their presence on the platform.

The main advantage offered by these platforms is that through them companies can access an extensive network of potential customers located in very diverse geographies and without the need to incur start-up costs or have the technical knowledge to do so.

Another advantage of marketplaces is that the seller manages his own brand, maintaining control of prices, the catalog, the purchasing process and the relationship with customers; without prejudice that you can receive advice from the platform.

2) Model of online retailers

The company sells its products through a platform that acts as a distributor. In this case, it is the platform that happens to have control of the brand, prices, catalog, etc.

3) Vent through own website or online store

In this case, it is the company that acts as a direct seller. The main disadvantage for companies of reduced size is the limitation of the ability to reach potential customers.

The development of an online store is not complicated, however, the deployment of an effective marketing strategy, which generates enough traffic to the web and a satisfactory conversion rates, can be much more complex.

The online channel, an alternative way to internationalize your SME


The main obstacles that companies usually find when using the online channel to go abroad refer fundamentally to the challenge of cultural change and the way of doing things. For companies that are not digital natives, the entry into the online sales channel involves a transformation of the business model and the need to acquire new capabilities.

However, the digital environment and e-commerce platforms offer an alternative way to internationalize your SME.


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On the other hand, if you are going to take the international leap, you must also look for safe and reliable channels and one of them are international tenders. Know what they are and how to take the step.

And now I would like to know your opinion: Did you know these strategies to sell abroad through the online channel?

We also recommend you more information about “How to Scale Internationally: Global Product Design

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Carmen Cerezuela

Author Carmen Cerezuela

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