It is no surprise to discover that the European software market is the inviting market to enter, projected to hit the mark of over 162 billion dollars in 2023 per Statista. An important segment of it is dedicated to enterprise software, with a projected market volume of almost 66 billion dollars in 2023. Some characteristics are unique to this market and in this article, we are covering those, with the idea to create a checklist to use as a guideline if you are looking to enter this market.
Number one challenge that software companies planning to enter the European market face are the laws and regulations in that market. When selling software in Europe you need to be aware of a couple of regulations:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): regulates the processing of personal data of EU citizens
- E-Commerce Directive: regulates the sale of goods and services over the internet in the EU
- Consumer Rights Directive: provides EU consumers with certain minimum rights when they buy goods and services
- Software Directive: governs the legal protection of computer programs in the EU
- Electronic Signatures Directive: regulates the use of electronic signatures in the EU
- VAT Directive: governs value-added tax rules for the sale of goods and services in the EU
- Any National laws and regulations that are linked with selling and managing software in Europe or a specific national market
Since it is a complex overview of all of these, we would recommend consulting a legal professional to help understand how these regulations apply to each specific situation you may experiencing.
Read how local regulations are shaping US ERP approach in the European market
To understand unique local preferences, we would suggest starting with thorough research of the market, which can be done via surveys, focus groups, and competitor analysis. Subsequent is a localization of the software to adapt to the needs of the local market. European consumers often prefer software that is available in their native language. Make sure software is available in the local language and consider adding features that are specific to the local market. In addition to that, think about offering localized customer support, because European customers place a high value on customer support and make sure that your support team is knowledgeable about local regulations and customer preferences.
One of them can be payment methods, so you must offer a wide range of payment options that are widely accepted in the local market. This is a valid approach for all other cultural differences that you can find out about the local market. The more you know about it, it helps you understand it better which leads to making better business decisions.
There are many different distribution channels for software in Europe, including online marketplaces, software retailers, and enterprise-focused channels. Choosing the right channels that are best suited to your target market and that can provide the highest visibility for your products is a vital part of the approach to the European market.
It is starting with choosing the target audience because it is the key to choosing the right distribution channel. Keep in mind that some channels are not available in certain markets and the reach of different channels can vary per national market. Important things to keep in mind as well are the cost, ease of use, reputation, and customer preferences. All of this is affecting the choice of the right distribution channel to use when selling software in Europe.
Local Partner Network
Partnering with local companies can help you navigate the complexities of the European market and reach customers more effectively. Companies should always look for partners who have a deep understanding of the local market and can provide valuable insights into customer preferences and regulations. The focus should be on the partners that are targeting similar target audiences and offer complementary products or services. It will indirectly increase the knowledge about the local market and help make informed and well-thought decisions based on correct information instead of assumptions. It will all lead in the end to increasing sales and developing long-lasting partnership relations with your network.
European consumers are price-sensitive, so it's important to price your products competitively. To do so it should include proper market and competitor analysis, with a review of customer segmentation and value proposition. When all this is completed and it is possible to create a competitive pricing strategy, keep in mind that it's important to regularly review and adjust pricing strategy based on market changes and customer feedback.
Excellent Customer Support
Creating proper Customer Support is crucial for every business anywhere, in Europe as well, since it is one of the important touchpoints with the market. Since we are speaking about the European market, the first thing to mention because it is crucial is offering multilingual support, because Europe is a diverse region and you want to establish a clear way of communication with your customers. The second most important thing is that support officers are knowledgeable about local standards, regulations, product features, and anything else that can be connected with their product and is related to that specific market.
Other than that, it is important to mention that the quality of customer support, in general, can be increased by offering 24/7 support, quicker response and resolution times, proactive support, training, learning from customer feedback, etc.
Investing in Marketing
When entering the European market, investing in marketing is inevitable and it is important to understand that it is not done in the same way as it is done in the US, so it can not be just copied from the US market. First of all, there are cultural differences that need to be respected and included in marketing efforts and communication. It is vital that messaging is culturally sensitive and appropriate for the region you are targeting. Besides that, it is already mentioned, but it is very important, to localize to the maximum level, because customers and prospects love when you are communicating with them using their native language.
Following that is choosing the correct marketing channels from a variety of options and it mostly depends on your target market segment and costs. Last but not least are customer testimonials, sometimes overlooked, but they positively influence a lot if they are coming from European customers and the European market.
Read here our Ultimate Guide on Selling Software in Europe
In conclusion, expanding into the European market can be a lucrative opportunity for US software companies, but it requires careful planning and execution. The key factors to consider include understanding the European regulatory environment and cultural differences of the target markets, adjusting the product to local needs, building relationships with local partners and customers, and investing in a strong marketing and sales strategy. With the right approach, US software companies can successfully navigate the European market and achieve sustainable growth.
EuroDev was established in 1996 in the Netherlands with a single, defined purpose to help mid-sized North American companies expand their business in Europe. So far, we have partnered up with over 500 companies and helped them define and meet their European business goals. Services provided include Sales Outsourcing, HR Outsourcing, and Digital Marketing.