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Episode 14: Taking on the World

Air Date: July 30, 1998


Use the Internet as your gateway to world domination!


IBM's Tom Vassos

IBM's Tom Vassos drops in on the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) and sees designer Crystal Siemens on the factory floor, creating a dress for a teddy bear, as part of a charity event. However, she finds herself distracted by her daydreams of exporting her fashions abroad, as a step towards achieving her vision of 'one world, one fashion'. Unfortunately, her plans of world domination are on hold, since she does not know a thing about the mysterious world of apparel export. Like always, Tom has a few pointers on where Crystal can look for the information she needs.


Finding the Overseas Opportunities

Strategis Logo

First of all, before Crystal can begin exporting, she needs to do her homework on apparel markets abroad, in order to understand the best countries in which to concentrate her efforts, and learn about the opportunities that are available. The best source for such information is Industry Canada's Strategis web site (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca), mentioned previously in Episode 5. In addition to listing international business opportunities (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/sc_mrkti/engdoc/homepage.html), a section called the International Business Information Network (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/bi18087e.html) offers a directory for finding the best export advisors, and the ability to create your own customized export market reports for any country.

Another source of information on trade opportunities abroad is TradeNet (http://www.tradenet.org/welcome.html), which was in existence from even before the invention of the World Wide Web. Since its inception, it has listed more than 300 million trade leads and has been a valuable resource for finding international trade contacts, products, and services.

Crystal surfs her way to world domination!

Other sources of international trade opportunities are found in the Usenet discussion groups for international trade, alt.business.importexport and biz.marketplace.international, where you can network with other individuals interested in doing business abroad. Though Crystal sees value in taking part in such discussion groups, she is concerned with language differences being a roadblock to her success. Fortunately, there are number of language translation services on the Internet, such as Altavista's language translator (http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/cgi-bin/translate?). This free utility translates text or even complete web pages between English and six other languages, and vice versa. In addition to these translation utilities, you can even take language lessons and practice your new language skills for free at the Rivendell International Communications web site (http://rivendel.com/~ric/resources/coursead.html).


Wading Through the Export Red Tape

Once Crystal has found target markets abroad for her fashions, she will have to ensure that the proper paper work is filled out and that she is meeting all customs and duty regulations. Fortunately, Strategis comes through again with its 'Canadian Exporters' Guide to the Internet' (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/bi18106e.html), which has extensive links to many useful online resources that will demystify the whole exporting process.



With the prospect of international sales, not only must you be concerned of language differences, but also currency differences when it comes time to advertise your prices and bill your overseas customers. There are several online utilities that address this issue, with the most versatile being the OANDA currency converter (http://www.oanda.com/cgi-bin/ncc). This application maintains a database of 164 currencies and you even have the option of specifying the exchange rate from a specific date since 1990. To assist with creating a seamless ordering process for your international clients, you can even purchase this utility and have it as a resident application on your web site.



Fedex Logo

In order for Crystal to get her fashions from her showroom at the TFI to the distributor or retailer abroad, she is going to have to ship it. Luckily, Federal Express had the small business in mind when it developed its interNetShip program (https://www.fedex.com/ship_it/benefits.html). After signing up on this program, you are provided with a FedEx Account Number and a User ID, with which you can ship online to over 170 countries worldwide. In addition, the interNetShip software allows you to print out waybills right from your laser printer, create your own 75-name address book for your most common shipping destinations, inform the recipients of your shipment by e-mail, and send an online request to have your parcel picked up. And after the package is in the hands of FedEx, its progress can be tracked in real-time with FedEx's online parcel-tracking utility.


Globalize Your Web Site

Since your web site is your storefront on the Internet, it only makes sense to globalize your web site for your potential overseas customers. This means:



Barriers to international trade have fallen over the last few decades, allowing for the freer flow of goods across borders. Many companies have come to realize the opportunities for growth through exploitation of untapped foreign markets, such as China, with its population of one billion consumers, forty times the whole population of Canada. In the coming decades, international markets will become increasingly important as the world's population experiences its greatest growth outside of North America and Europe. In fact, the United Nations' Center for Human Settlements estimates that by the year 2015, none of the top ten most populous cities will be found in North America. As a small business, you too can take advantage of the emerging international opportunities, just like The Cyberian Outpost, which translated their web pages into nine languages, and are now generating over sixty per cent of their revenues from outside of the United States. With the Internet, it's even easier for the small business to take on the world.


Hot Links


Want to learn more about the topics covered this week? Then check out these great web sites and resources:


Overseas Market Research and Export Information


Strategis International Business Opportunities and Investment



Strategis International Business Information Network


Listings of International business development events, export advisors, the ability to create your own customized export market reports, and other resources for would-be exporters



Lists on average 250,000 trade leads each day in every country

Assist International


Offers leads, international trade contacts, and resources

Strategis Canadian Exporters' Guide to the Internet




Language Translation and Currency Conversion Tools


Altavista's Translation Service


Allows translation of straight text or complete web pages between English and five other languages

Rivendell International Communications Free Translation Links


Free online translation tools that cover most languages

Rivendell International Communications Free Online Language Courses


Learn and practice a new language

OANDA Currency Converter


Converts between 164 currencies, and even allows you to specify the exchange rate on a specific date


Shipping Utilities


FedEx interNetShip


A comprehensive service that generates waybills, maintains an address book, e-mail delivery notification, and the ability to ship to 170 countries worldwide

JB Hunt's Order Tracking Utility


An example of an order-tracking utility that uses satellite positioning to pinpoint the exact location of a package




Mark Schneider		CTV - Host of "Digital Desktop"
Tom Vassos		IBM e-business Advisor and Host of "This New SoHo"
Crystal Siemens		Fashion Designer


Production Credits


Anthony Steward		Camera
Andre LaPalme		Sound Technician
Anthony Leong		Senior Web Editor

All episode summaries and supplemental information written by Anthony Leong, with material and assistance from Tom Vassos, his book Strategic Internet Marketing, and Mark Schneider.

Click here for IBM e-business solutions

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