How to Do International Business Right: Tips from a PayPal Executive

Melissa O’Malley, PayPal’s Director of Global Initiatives, recently sat down to talk with me about the complicated business of selling internationally, and how, with the right tools and partners, it doesn’t have to be such a complicated matter. From the troublesome business of taxes and duties to the role freight forwarders play in all this, we discuss how small merchants can more easily make that leap into international business.

Giving Small Merchants a Passport to Sell Internationally

PayPal, a U.S.-based company that provides payment services in over 200 markets, is no stranger to international business.

“My team is primarily focused on international programs to help our merchants sell more easily around the globe,” Melissa says.

With all the perceived challenges inherently tied to international sales, this can be a daunting task for small businesses—especially when they’re told they need to sell overseas to be competitive. Melissa explains that businesses (regardless of size) don’t have to go it alone. In fact, with the right tools and providers on your side, much of the legwork can be taken care of for you.

The PayPal Passport program is a great example of something businesses and entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of.

PayPal takes care of studying the global consumer audience, so businesses don’t have to. For instance, they’ve conducted research into 29 different countries and developed insights into who these international consumers are: what are they buying online? what makes them buy online? what would make them buy more?

The PayPal Passport program has also prepared a number of tools to help small businesses sell easier. Taxation, duties, and other fees related to shipping can be complicated, and sellers might not know what exactly is involved in the process of selling physical or digital goods. PayPal created this program specifically to address these questions and unknowns, and to let small merchants focus on growing their businesses internationally.

Tips for International Business Growth

It’s clear that Melissa and the PayPal Global Initiatives team get it. That’s why I wanted to know if she had any special insights she could share that would help small merchants take that leap into international waters.

Rely on the Experts

Melissa tells me that merchants don’t have to be shipping experts in order to open their business up to global sales opportunities. Customs and duties is a new and very complicated arena, and that’s why merchants should leave it up to the experts to worry about the logistics.

She recommends that merchants rely on trusted resources like the U.S. government and freight forwarding services like BorderLinx.

Be Social

For other countries looking to reach U.S. consumers, it’s important to have a social strategy in place to build your brand. Turn to influencers on social media to find out what the U.S. audience wants. And make use of strategic partnerships to help you get the word out about your business and reach a broader audience.

Create Trust

For smaller merchants looking to reach a new audience, it’s important to instill confidence in your customers. So rather than ask them to give up sensitive financial information to an unknown merchant, lean on a trusted brand like PayPal to process their payments safely.

At the end of the day, Melissa tells me, “People like to buy things, but they don’t like to pay for them. So if you’re a small merchant, you need to make the payment process as simple as possible. Make sure the consumer has a great experience and a simple experience that’s secure, fast, and efficient.”

Remember that this trust needs to go both ways. As a merchant, you need to be confident that you’ll receive payments, too, and that’s all the more reason to rely on trusted brands to manage the intricacies of your international sales.

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