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Small business prosperity lies beyond Canada’s borders

PayPal Canada president Paul Parisi.Handout

When Nude Bee Honey Co. sells into new markets, it makes it a point to turn the unfamiliar into familiar territory. Recently, the country in question was Taiwan. Ryan Tyler Thomas, head of brand marketing at the Toronto-based business that sells hive-to-table honey, found that there was consistent and strong online demand, but he wasn’t sure why. While visiting the country, Ryan came to see that in Taiwan, honey is more than just a condiment, it’s considered an essential herbal remedy. Now, just a few months and several meetings with local distributors later, Nude Bee Honey Co. (and a little bit of Canada) can be found on shelves in health and wellness stores across Taiwan.

At one time, selling internationally was something only well-established organizations could hope to do. Small businesses never dreamt of entering foreign markets. They only opened their doors to their local community or within the country.

E-commerce has changed the game. Entrepreneurs are no longer limited to selling within their home country and are finding success selling across borders. Technology has significantly reduced the hurdles that once prevented small businesses from exploring international expansion. In just a few clicks, entrepreneurs can generate new revenue streams.

“Made in Canada” brands and goods enjoy recognition and demand on the global stage. Synonymous with quality, Canadian goods are particularly popular with shoppers in the U.S., U.K, Australia, Germany and France. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that 22 million Americans shopped online from Canadian businesses, spending $8.7 billion in 2016. Beyond the highly popular Canada-U.S. trade corridor, research firm Forrester estimates that global e-commerce cross-border spending will hit US$627 billion by 2022. Yet despite the immense opportunity, less than 20 per cent of Canadian small businesses sell online, and even fewer engage in cross-border commerce.

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