Supply chain · 3 December 2015

Top ten must dos for first-time exporting

The practice of exporting must be approached with due care and attention
The practice of exporting must be approached with due care and attention

With the UK recording the strongest export growth in Europe in recent years, now is the time for British businesses to make the most of overseas opportunities.

The UK’s GDP growth forecast has just been upgraded by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) to 2.6 per cent as opposed to 2.4 per cent for 2016. As a result, the UK is set to become the fastest growing G7 economy.

The UK’s biggest exporting partners include established players, such as the US, Germany and the Netherlands. However, added to that list are China and the United Arab Emirates. Thanks to a well-established pedigree, British brands can capitalise on the UK’s high quality heritage image abroad. Companies and customers worldwide appreciate British products, with everything from whisky to tweed jumpers finding new fans in surprising places.

If you’re a first-time exporter, here are our top ten exporting “must dos” to achieve exporting success.

(1) Keep an open mind

Exporting to established economies may seem like the easy option, but don’t forget that new markets are emerging and growing constantly. When choosing, keep a close eye on the fast-paced developing markets as there could be opportunities for you to capitalise on.

(2) Do your research

Getting clued up on potential markets is essential and the internet is a brilliant resource. Yet once you’ve identified a country, try to get out there and meet the locals, browse the supermarket shelves and shop windows to scope out the competition and meet distributors face-to-face.

(3) Test the (international) waters

Focus on one country at a time to ensure you maintain a steady approach. There’s plenty of time to conquer the rest of the world.

(4) Be prepared

Thanks to ecommerce, a product’s popularity can go from nought to 100 incredibly quickly. Ensure you have thorough planning in place to cope with a steep increase in customer demand.

(5) Look for funding

The government recognises the importance of exporting and has pledged £3bn in helping fund British SMEs. Make sure you take full advantage of this – or someone else will.

(6) Consider your brand

When it comes to branding what works in the UK may not always work abroad. To increase your product’s appeal in new markets you could consider emphasising “British-ness” into your brand, as this you could give you an edge over local equivalents owing to the excellent reputation British products have overseas.

(7) Ask: “Is the price right?”

Your product’s perfect price point will differ from country-to-country, still getting it right for each individual market is absolutely crucial in securing both distributors and customers. 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. Customs regulations can vary a lot between markets, so make sure you check early on in the process to see if there are barriers your product could face to help save time and effort.

(9) Think like a local

Learning about a new culture isn’t just an enlightening personal experience, it’s fundamental to business success. For instance, in some places, haggling can make a deal, in others it can break one. By getting to know the local business culture you can understand what makes other 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 invaluable advice from helping to navigate customs to offering insight into which market may be right for you.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

David Poole is managing director of sales, UK South at FedEx Express and FedEx UK. FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every US address, as well as more than 220 countries and territories. 

HR