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10 Things You Need to Know About Expanding Your Direct Sales Operation into International Markets

How to Be a Global Direct Sales Company When You Don't Have Global Distribution

Global logistics


Think about the last time you visited a foreign country where you didn't know the language or the customs of day-to-day life. International travel can be intimidating and stressful until you figure out the lay of the land. Fortunately, tools like Google Maps and Siri Translate can make the experience of going to new places more rewarding.

Unfortunately, there are no electronic guides available if you’re a direct sales executive thinking about selling products outside your home market. You can't just Google "help me grow my business overseas" to get the help you need. Instead, success will depend on how quickly you can establish partner agreements, launch marketing and sales initiatives, and set up local fulfillment and customer service operations.

10 Common Logistics Problems to Avoid

The global direct sales market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% and reach $287 billion USD by 2028, according to Grand View Research, fueled largely by the rise of e-commerce, changing consumer lifestyles, and rapid growth in regions such as North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The outlook for the industry is good.  

The global direct sales market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.1% and reach $287 billion USD by 2028. - Grand View Research

However, unlike other retail sales channels, a direct sales company that relies on independent distributors to drive revenue growth faces unique challenges when entering new markets because your expansion requires more than just an in-language website or a new brick-and-mortar store --you also have to initiate and close thousands of one-to-one transactions and provide easy access to hundreds of products.

That's why regional warehousing and distribution should always be at the top of any direct seller's expansion to-do list, along with other logistics and operations problems you may encounter early on. 

Some of the most common issues include:
1. Finding reliable distributors and customers in different regions: Upon entering a new market, a direct sales brand must find distributors who align with its values, goals, and target market. Keep in mind that cultural differences, including communication styles, business practices, and expectations around customer service, can vary greatly between regions.

2. Language barriers: Communication becomes increasingly complex as your company grows into new markets with diverse languages. You may have to find ways to bridge this gap through translation services and bilingual employees.

3. Currency exchange rates: Fluctuations in currency exchange rates can significantly impact revenue and profitability. Keep track of exchange rate changes and adjust your prices accordingly to maintain profitability.

4. Local regulations and taxes: Each country has its own set of rules and regulations regarding product labeling, packaging, and taxation. Research and comply with these regulations to avoid penalties and delays in delivering products.

5. Shipping and logistics: Managing international shipping and logistics can be daunting, especially when dealing with multiple countries and currencies. Choose reliable carriers and freight forwarders who can handle the complexity of global shipments.

6. Product adaptation: To cater to local tastes and preferences, you may need to modify your products or packaging. This can require significant investment in research and development, testing, and manufacturing.

7. Warehousing and inventory management: Increased global operations require multiple warehouses and separate inventories, which can lead to inventory control issues, stockouts, or overstocking. Implementing robust inventory management systems can help mitigate these risks.

8. Payment processing: Handling payments across borders can be challenging due to differing payment methods, currencies, and regulatory requirements. You'll need to select the right payment gateways to accommodate these variations and ensure secure transactions.

9. Supply chain visibility: Maintaining end-to-end supply chain visibility becomes increasingly difficult as your company grows globally. Implement advanced technology solutions to track shipments, manage inventory, and monitor supplier performance.

10. Political risks: Operating in foreign markets exposes companies to political risks such as trade restrictions, tariffs, and geopolitical instability, which can all disrupt supply chains and create uncertainty. Have a plan to react to these risks in order to minimize their effect on profitability.

Introducing Direct Selling International Expansion Global Alliance

To help direct sales companies manage every step of a successful international growth initiative, Cura Group recently partnered with two other global logistics companies to form the Direct Selling International Expansion Global Alliance. (DSIEGA).

Our mission is to make it easy for you to bring your direct selling brand to every corner of the world – from the United States, to India, to the GCC region, and beyond – by offering fast, turn-key go-to-market services with minimum risk.

Together with international supply chain experts Filuet Group and Holisol Logistics, Cura Group and DSIEGA will plan and execute your expansion project, including:

  • Import/export strategies
  • Logistics & warehousing
  • Supply chain management
  • E-commerce platforms & fulfillment
  • Brick & mortar customer service centers
  • Automated retail
  • Compliance

In October, DSIEGA will be at this year's World Federation of Direct Selling World Congress in Dubai. Come talk to us if your direct selling brand is ready to take on the world!

Or, contact us today to learn more about Cura Group's comprehensive logistics solutions for structural and creative package design, display building, warehousing, inventory management, and pack-out services – all under one roof.

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Topics: customer service e-commerce business growth distribution strategy retail