As the world’s largest consumer market, the United States (US) offers overseas businesses significant opportunities to sell products. If your business is not yet exploring these opportunities, one easy way of entering the US market is by setting up an online store on Shopify.
The Shopify platform allows your business to start and manage an online store without opening an office in the US. Here are seven steps to take before launching your US operation on Shopify.
Before you can trade in the US, you’ll need to open a US corporation. In most US states, capital is not necessary and, if you set up a corporation in Delaware, you’ll benefit from that state’s business-friendly laws.
Since your business is not based in the US, it makes sense to hire an experienced licensed agent who can file all the paperwork on your behalf and open your US corporation within a few days
Once your business is incorporated, opening a US business bank account is straightforward, even if you’re not a US resident.
A consulting company such as Inc. Plan (USA) can help you open a US corporate bank account quickly and easily. Inc. Plan (USA) has over 20 years’ experience of advising overseas businesses on setting up operations in the US.
A merchant account with a credit card company allows you to accept credit and debit card payments directly from your customers. However, before deciding to set up a merchant account, find out about all the fees attached to the account and read the terms and conditions carefully.
Alternatively, you can accept your customers’ card payments by using a third-party payment processor, such as PayPal. If you decide to use PayPal, the next step would be opening a PayPal vendor account in the US.
Brainstorm possible domain names for your Shopify store. If your current business name would be easily recognized and remembered by US consumers, it could be used in your domain name. If not, choose a new name for your US Shopify store.
Select a domain name suffix that identifies your business as a US-based one, such as .com or .us. Purchase your domain name either through Shopify or through an online domain name registration company.
Shopify offers four different pricing plans with payments being made either monthly or annually. Choose the plan that best meets your needs. For example, some businesses start with the reasonably-priced Basic plan and upgrade to the Unlimited plan once their sales have reached a certain level.
Design Your Shopify Store
It’s easy to design your own attractive Shopify store without any specialist technical knowledge. Choose from over 100 professionally designed templates and customize them with your own fonts, colors, photographs and branding.
If you need some assistance, consult Shopify’s online manuals and tutorials or ask a question on its forums. A Shopify expert can also help you enhance and complete your store.
Arrange for Local Shipping
Shipping products from your home country to customers in the US can be expensive and take longer than necessary. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a US-based fulfillment service to ship all your orders. Shopify works with a number of e-commerce fulfillment companies. Compare their services before deciding which one would be most suitable for shipping the items you sell.
With total household final consumption expenditure (HFCE) of US$11.48 trillion in 2013, according to the United Nations Statistics Division, the vast US market offers your business a wealth of opportunities. Take the first step toward entering this lucrative market by setting up your Shopify store today.