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Going global: Challenges to consider when expanding your subscription business overseas

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Going global: Challenges to consider when expanding your subscription business overseas

October 24, 2019

As your subscription business continues to grow, you might consider expanding so that your services are available for customers throughout the world. Used to the market within your own country, the process can be incredibly daunting at first. But if the process is successful, it could rapidly increase your revenue and boost your reputation so that more customers are interested in what you have to offer.

However, there are certain questions that you must answer before you make the big decision. For example, is your subscription service suited to international markets? Even though it’s working successfully within your own country, not all services will thrive with an international audience.

How can you do this? You can conduct extensive market research in order to identify which markets your service could sit within. By testing the water, you will get a good indication as to whether or not you will be successful within that specific country.

Following on from this, you also need to think about what eastern and western audiences would think of what you have to offer. Different parts of the world see things differently, so make sure that you are fully aware of what each country is like before you roll out your service there.

Alongside preparing thoroughly for this potential expansion, it’s vital that you are aware of the key challenges that you could face throughout the process. In this article, we will take you through the top issues that you can expect.

1. The language differences

When you’re expanding your subscription service, you need to be aware of the different languages that you will come across. In order to cater for your new customers, it’s a good idea to hire bilingual staff members that can translate all of the content and be able to reply to any queries that your new customers might have. 

If you keep the language in English and don’t offer the option of translation, you will lose any potential international customers that could have been interested in what you have to offer.

2. Understand the countries you are expanding into

Following on from the above, during the research stage, you need to understand the culture of the countries that you are hoping to expand into. You don’t want to offend any customers with any of your content – for example, colors in China mean different things. So for a red button that some countries might find negative, for them, it’s a sign of prosperity.

By taking the time to understand each of the countries, you will be in a better position when it comes to expanding.

3. Competition, competition, competition

No matter what your subscription service, there’s no denying that you will have competition from similar platforms. And this is an important factor to consider when you’re expanding overseas.

As the market is so big and the subscription economy is ever-expanding, you need to research thoroughly as to which subscription services are currently available in that country. Without doing so, you face the risk of entering a market that’s already populated with big players that you simply can’t compete against.

4. Any compliance regulations

In order to successfully expand your business overseas, you need to be aware of any compliance regulations that occur within the countries. From consumer-protection laws to ensuring that free trials are legally compliant, there are many hurdles that you could face during the process.

You don’t want to mislead your international customers or breach any laws. So to protect your company, it’s advisable that you audit your subscription process and set measures in place to remain compliant. The international market can be a hard one to navigate if you don’t have the correct legal assistance.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to engage a legal counsel within that country (or one that has previous experience within that market) who know these compliance laws down to a tee.

5. Universal payment methods

When it comes to invoicing, you want subscription billing software that can handle international payments seamlessly. With the capability to safely and efficiently transfer the customer’s payment to you, investing in management software is a key step towards successful expanding your services abroad.

So before you dive straight into your expansion, make sure that you have this on hand for your customers – as without it, you won’t be able to receive payments from them and their onboarding journey could be compromised.

6. Currency rates

Alongside a reliable payment system, you want to make sure that you have considered the challenge of the various currencies that you will have to contend with. 

As currency is continually fluctuating throughout the years, you need to have a model in place that will adjust alongside it. Monitoring the exchange rates frequently, you need to set prices that will not only entice your customers but will correlate with your competitors within that country.

7. Political risks

As with any business, your SaaS platform will need to consider the political uncertainty of the countries that you’re looking to expand into – a vital step due to it being a new or unknown market for your foreign business.

To determine this, you could carry out a risk assessment of the political and economic landscape. Using a professional with knowledge of the landscape, you will be able to forecast how easily your SaaS platform can go global.

Issues such as corrupt practices or unstable practices can be hugely problematic for your expanding business; as changes within governments bring about changes within regulations and policy. So to decrease the risk of this uncertainty, it’s key that you prepare thoroughly in advance before making the big move.

Final thoughts

So, there you go! Those are the main challenges that you should consider when you’re thinking about expanding your subscription business overseas. Of course, it isn’t all bleak. Expanding can prove to be an incredible move that greatly benefits your business in the long term. But in order for this dream to become a reality, it’s essential that you take the above into consideration.



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