I guess you have heard about it. The various news reports about banks axing their employees, a sluggish stock market worldwide, or a slow property market in 2016. By connecting the dots together, it may seem like we are facing a potential downbeat economy in Singapore and perhaps worldwide. So, how can our businesses sustain or be profitable in the face of an incoming downbeat economy?
Perhaps globalising without going global may help?
Looking at the pun intended title, it simply means that any type of business in Singapore can sell its products and services globally without literally having any of its offices or shops overseas. How is it being done?
Well, there are plenty of ways to do that and we will get to that later. Now, let us focus on the reasons why Singapore companies, regardless of their size, should 'globalise' without globalising.
#1 Answering the Whys
Firstly, companies in Singapore can extend their products and services into a bigger market worldwide. Therefore, it enhances economies dependencies where they need not depend solely on the domestic economy for business profitability.
Secondly, by going global, companies in Singapore are able to enhance the country's economic competitiveness in a bigger, wider, global market. Therefore bringing Singapore brands up onto the next level.
Thirdly, it boosts the domestic economy and labour market as well. With the ease of doing business globally at home, companies which adopt this new business strategy may see an increase in their business revenue which will then lead to higher domestic consumption, better domestic economy, and a healthier job market.
#2 The difference between expanding overseas and expanding overseas without going global
Expanding overseas may look pretty good on the outside but it implies a huge amount of risk for Singapore companies going overseas. Firstly, the consumer acceptance of the brand may be different from country to country.
The business might be doing well in Singapore due to its long-term brand establishment, but it may not do well in other counties due to different consumer culture. There is a need for the business to gain brand familiarity in the countries it intended to target.
Secondly, the idea of going overseas may only be restricted to large corporations with huge amount of business development budgets and stable financial backing by angel investors, government agencies, or venture capitalists. But what about the small- and medium-sized enterprises or new start-ups which do not have high budgets but have very good business models that can be very successful on a global basis?
Therefore, by expanding the business globally without going global, any size of business can expand and increase their revenue with little budget, more brand exposure, and better profitability as compared to companies that are expanding their businesses globally, literally.
#3 How it is done
i. Think of the world as your market
With the advent of the internet, everything seems so convenient and close now. Consumers can buy almost anything in the world, at the convenience of their home. Without the internet, there will be no big global brands like Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook which depend a lot on internet data.
All these great brands started with an idea to market their products and services to a global audience. Therefore, businesses in Singapore have to think of the world as their market too. Ask yourself, how can your business sell more than just in the domestic market? Eventually, you will come up with many awesome marketing ideas.
ii. Create your franchise model and market it
There are prospects globally who are looking for proven business models that can generate revenue for them. If your business is already doing well domestically, it means you have a very good business model. So, discuss with your management team on how to create a franchise concept out of your business model, and then market that franchise concept to potential franchisees online.
iii. Build your fans around the world
The best way to test whether consumers in a particular country like your brand is to reach out to them online or on social media. When you begin to see the increase in brand engagement and enquiries from your online channels from that particular country, then the move to that country literally may seem as a more viable strategy.
iv. Engage freelancers
Think of expanding your work to outsourced companies and agents overseas who are well versed in marketing your products and services in the particular country that you wish to expand your business to. In this way, it will help your business grow its customer base in the country that you wish to target.
v. Facilitate payment online
Create a platform where your customers from overseas can pay your company online conveniently for your products and services. By doing so, it helps to save business costs as well as improve your operational efficiency.
vi. Seek collaboration worldwide
Look for sponsors or partners worldwide who are likely to collaborate with your business in many ways. The best method is to create win-win collaboration proposals with established brands in the particular country that you wish to target. In this way, you can enhance global consumer confidence in your brand.
One of the best examples is the homegrown cosmetics and beauty products ecommerce website Luxola. The company, operating from its office in Henderson Road, is one of the most popular beauty products ecommerce websites today, with its strong brand presence in the Asia Pacific Region. In July 2015, the company was acquired by Sephora and parent company Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) for an undisclosed amount. Truly, it is a great success story for a Singapore brand.
In summary, you can expand your business globally without setting up an office or shop overseas literally. By doing so, regardless of whether your business size is huge or small at present, the revenue generated from global sales will definitely bring up your brand to a higher level. Therefore helping your business remain competitive and profitable despite a gloomy economy. So start to be a global brand without going global today.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Jacky Tan is a brand strategist, professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and author. He is also the chairperson and keynote speaker for Marketing Asia Conference 2016. Jacky leads boutique marketing and branding agency 'Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd'.