SMEs are increasingly open to exporting internationally, a trend that is expected to give the UK economy a serious boost this year. But, for first-timers, it can be a daunting experience.
So, where should you start? FedEx’s Trevor Hoyle has a few ideas.
1) Don’t just stick to obvious markets.
Europe might look like the safest option, but does it necessarily have the most potential for your business? As “Don’t forget that new markets are emerging all the time. You may already have considered selling to the Baltics but have you considered South Africa?” says Hoyle.
“Getting clued up on potential markets does not need to cost the earth,” says Hoyle. Use the internet to help you, but make sure you also travel to a country and actually meet the locals and check the supermarket shelves.
3) Test the water.
Don’t go in with all guns blazing. Focus on one country to start with. “There’s plenty of time to conquer the rest of the world!” says Hoyle.
4) Be prepared.
“Since the dawn of e-commerce, a product’s popularity can go from nought to 100 incredibly quickly. Ensure you make plans just in case your product flies out of the blocks even faster than you expect,” Hoyle advises.
5) Look for funding
The government has made highly ambitious export target and, to back it up, they now have to put their money where their mouth is! So much so that they’re offering £3billion in funding to UK businesses. “Make sure you take full advantage of this… or someone else will,” says Hoyle.
6) Consider your brand
“What works in the UK may not work abroad. Why not take advantage of the excellent reputation British products enjoy overseas by incorporating “British-ness” into your brand to give it the edge over its local counterparts?” says Hoyle.
7) Ask: “Is the price right?”
Make sure you understand the pricing subtleties in your target country. “Your product’s perfect price point will differ from country to country, and getting it right is absolutely crucial to securing both distributors and customers,” says Hoyle. “Don’t forget to factor in additional transport costs and exchange rates to keep your margins healthy.”
8) Get accustomed to customs.
“This is a crucial but often overlooked step when exporting,” says Hoyle. “Customs regulations can vary a lot from country to country and checking early on in the process if there are barriers to your product could save you a lot of time and effort.”
9) Think like a local
Don’t just observe, immerse. As Hoyle points out: “Getting to grips with a new culture isn’t just an enlightening personal experience, it’s fundamental to the success of your product. In some places, haggling can make a deal, in others it can break one. Getting to know the local business culture helps you understand what makes the people tick allowing harmonious and productive relationships to flourish.”
10) Logistics is a lot more than just “A to B”
“Whoever transports your goods overseas, make sure you make the most of them by tapping into their expertise. The right logistics firm can offer you invaluable advice on navigating customs and give you an insight into which market may be right for you” says FedEx.