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Global Smarts

Toy Story

In 1994, The Doll Collection was just a neighborhood retail shop in Louisville, Kentucky, with a staff of three. It didn't even generate much of a profit. Three years later, it's a company with a worldwide presence--and sales to match. What happened to transform the business? Two words: the Internet.

Getting on the Internet was the perfect way for The Doll Collection to advertise its popular products and take that leap into international markets. Likewise, it may be the best and fastest way
for your small business to reach international consumers.

Using html, a computer language that the company's Webmaster Jason Walters says he learned in two weeks, Walters designed what he admits is a simple site showcasing well-known dolls like Barbie and Madame Alexander to lure buyers. Simple or not, the company's Web site has promoted the business worldwide and resulted in sales to almost every country, including Japan, China and Australia. And since the site went up last year, the tiny doll shop's sales have escalated--to the tune of 375 percent over last year's.

The things you'll learn when you take your business global via the Internet may astound you. Although Walters knew Barbie was a popular doll, the extent of that popularity shocked him. "She's like the Grateful Dead," says Walters. "You'd be surprised."

Check out The Doll Collection's Web site at http://www.dollpage.com.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Global Smarts.

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