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David Vitrano

Internationalization for SMEs Made Easy

By – David Vitrano, Chief Commercial Officer at Visable

Hamburg, October 2023 – The exchange of goods and services across borders—in other words, foreign trade—is becoming increasingly important. All crises of recent years, from the COVID pandemic to the war in Ukraine, scarcity of some resources, or inflation, have shown that geographic sales diversification can be a decisive resilience factor for companies. Especially now that China’s economy is weakening, companies need replacement markets. Thanks to the opportunities brought about by increasing digitalization, new markets can be conquered more easily. Small and medium-sized companies can advertise and sell their products or services globally via online shops as well as platforms—and in a sustainable way.

Visable is a German-based company operating 2 platforms wlw (Wer Liefert Was) for German-speaking countries and Europages for SMEs in other European countries. Internationalization is perceived as a huge opportunity for German SMEs, especially in the B2B sector. B2C trade has long been global, but B2B companies are still lagging behind. Fueled by the developments of recent years, SME B2B business is now catching up in the area of internationalization and is expected to develop rapidly. The online B2B e-commerce market is estimated at 25 billion dollars by 2028, seven times more than the B2C e-commerce market. SMEs can tap this huge worldwide opportunity from their national location.

France, number 8 in total exports worldwide, or even Germany, number 3 in total exports worldwide, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), has by no means exhausted the gigantic potential of digital sales. European SMEs would benefit from the reputation of the “Made in Europe”, “Made in Germany”, and “Made in France” quality seals and the high demand for their products abroad. The opportunities for international expansion for European SMEs are greater than the risks.

Internationalizing Marketing

Suitable marketing measures to support the internationalization of business activities are search engine optimization (SEO), search engine advertising (SEA), and social media. But above all, international online marketplaces are key players. Depending on the source, up to 1 professional purchaser out of 2 is using B2B marketplaces for his or her procurement needs. In Europe, platforms such as Europages and wlw are available. They bring suppliers and buyers together. For example:

  • The inquiries on Europages come from a total of 193 countries, and on wlw, from 137 countries.
  • On wlw, the most inquiries in 2022 came from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the United States, and China.
  • On Europages, the most requests came from France, Spain, the United States, Italy, and Germany.
  • The 10 countries with the most requests on wlw are distributed across 3 continents: Europe, North America, and Asia.
  • The 10 countries with the most inquiries on Europages are distributed over the 4 continents: Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.

Partner of European SMEs: wlw and Europages Help with Internationalization

With helpful functions on its B2B platforms, wlw and Europages, Visable supports European SMEs in their steps onto the global market. A company search and a precise product search with many sorting and filtering options are available for this purpose. Among other things, filtering according to certain quality criteria is possible, such as ISO certifications, which are becoming increasingly relevant in order to prove compliance with prescribed standards with regard to supply chain protection laws. Via the Request for Quote/Connect service, buyers can also commission very specific inquiries, which are processed by the Visable research team and AI-supported.

Already, a large proportion of the messages on Europages are sent across national and language borders. Linguistic hurdles do not stand in the way of initiating business. This is because the platform specifically aims to make it easier for B2B buyers to search for the products or services they need in their own language. When they find a relevant supplier, Europages helps them contact him in their own language. Several companies from different countries with different languages can also be contacted in one inquiry.

Internationalization Made Easy – With the Right Strategy and the Right Partners

With a well-thought-out strategy, internationalization projects are a huge opportunity for growth for European SMEs – especially in the B2B sector. They ensure future viability, as there is strong cut-throat competition in the local market. Thanks to the possibilities of digitalization, it is easier than ever to compare and sell products and services worldwide.

Visable supports industrial SMEs in making products and services internationally accessible to buyers. As a combination of its own B2B platforms and online marketing services, such as Google Ads and Retargeting, tailored specifically to business customers, the company offers a broad digital portfolio for increasing reach on the Internet.

The platforms operated by Visable GmbH include wlw (“Wer liefert was”), today the leading B2B platform in the D-A-CH region, and the European B2B platform Europages, on which around three million companies are registered. Together, the platforms reach three million B2B buyers a month who are looking for detailed company and product information. With its online marketing services, Visable offers companies additional opportunities to increase their reach on the Internet.

Visable was created in response to the challenges of internationalization and digitalization in the B2B sector and today employs around 450 people at its locations in Hamburg, Berlin, Münster, and Paris. As a joint umbrella for the wlw and Europages brands, Visable is continuously expanding its B2B platforms and online marketing services.

You can find further articles, information, press releases, and downloads at

  • Growth, resilience, and future viability: There is still a lot of potential in internationalization for German SMEs.
  • Planning, consulting, and strategy: Important approaches for successful internationalization in the B2B sector
  • Peter F. Schmid, CEO of B2B platform operator Visable, says, “We actively accompany German companies as they step onto the international stage.”

This Trade and Development Report Update warns that developing countries are facing years of difficulty as the global economy slows down amid heightened financial turbulence.

Key points:

  • Global growth is expected to be lower than earlier projected, signaling a potential economic downturn.
  • Developing countries face mounting debt and insufficient international support, risking another lost decade.
  • The banking crisis highlights long-neglected financial fragilities and regulatory weaknesses.
  • Declining energy costs lead to lower inflation, but elevated food prices maintain a high cost of living in many developing countries.
  • Growing global asymmetries threaten developing countries’ resilience, requiring stronger multilateral action and an urgent focus on sovereign debt architecture.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are known for their scarcity of available resources, facing challenges beyond predictions, and looking for opportunities to survive and thrive in unpredictable international business environments. However, some SMEs are better equipped to develop opportunities and bring value to the firm than others.