According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce now accounts for 7.8 percent of domestic retail sales (excluding fuel and automobiles) and it’s growing at 15.2 percent, annually. Traditional retail is growing at a much slower pace of 2.2 percent.

Perfect storm for SMB

In the Asia-Pacific region, e-commerce last year grew a whopping 35.2 percent. The opportunity for U.S. small business lies in the rest of the world catching up with online shopping technology. More and more consumers are gaining access to the internet, with a growing middle class ready to purchase American goods.

Human relationships are front and center, as they have always been with all business.

Small businesses are often strapped with limited resources, however these businesses are utilizing marketplace platforms like Amazon and Ebay to reach new customers outside America. Non-U.S. based marketplaces are also engaging U.S. companies to list and manage their products on international marketplaces like Tmall in China.

Worldwide demand for American quality and unique products are increasing as the global customer base is rapidly expanding. Small businesses utilizing global marketplace platforms are taking advantage of low entry costs, while gathering data on what works and what doesn’t.

The DNA of small business strength is their ability to be agile and fast moving, while enterprise business typically plan and spend large budgets chasing new international customers.

Hurdles to success

Of course there are logistics and other challenges to consider when you go international with your small and medium sized business. Cross-border taxation, translation and localized Information are critical. Having good relationships with service providers and solid industry contacts will help ease these concerns and set you on the right path.

While technology enables business, it’s the people that drive innovation and profit. Human relationships are front and center, as they have always been with all business. Often the fastest way to become educated and in contact with those who can help you position your small business globally—and provide some of the best answers and solutions—is by attending trade fares and conferences. The immersion into a new world of opportunity is an important first step when you plan to sell internationally.