10 steps to the perfect export plan

1. Review your export potential

You should take some time to consider the realities of exporting and their implications for all aspects of your business, and to be aware of any assistance you may need. You’ll find lots of useful information on the country and sector pages of the UKTI site. If you’ve not done so already, get yourself started by reading the UKTI’s advice for first time exporters.

2. Develop an action plan

Exporting is a process which needs to be planned. Clear and focused objectives are needed, and exporters need to be realistic as to what can be achieved within a given timescale. UKTI, through its international trade teams can provide help to companies to develop a tailored action plan which sets out a workable strategy for developing into international trade with regular reviews to ensure it is on track. This is a core part of the Passport to Export service offering.

3. Research and prepare to visit the market

Researching markets is essential to help reduce risk and improve chance of success. This is usually a combination of desk and field research. Each business and each market is unique. UKTI’s aim is to help you, through research and advice, make those initial approaches into new markets. UKTI offers two key research and contact services: Overseas Market Introduction Service [OMIS] and Export Markets Research Scheme [EMRS].

Bespoke export training on Passport to Export also assists companies with professional approaches and techniques for market selection, taking into account questions such as:

  • How ‘easy’ is the market?
  • What is demand likely to be?
  • What criteria are important to you?
  • What are your objectives?

…and ease/demand considerations (see diagram).

Taking part in overseas events, trade fairs or missions is an effective way to do some field research to test markets, attract customers, appoint agents or distributors and make sales.

UKTI helps groups of UK companies to attend tradeshows and missions worldwide.

Read more about UKTI’s Tradeshow Access Programme and Market Visit Support Service

UKTI’s website offers access to detailed country guidance, including “Doing Business in…” guides. Additionally, you should consider reading its FCO country updates assessments of business-relevant political and economic issues in key markets, and its Overseas Business Risk service provides declassified strategic information on business security related issues.

4. Explore routes to market entry

Choosing a sales presence in an overseas market can be quite complex. There are a number of options:

  • Agent, distributor, internet, license or franchise
  • Direct sales to retail, direct business to business sales, joint venture, subsidiary or via UK contacts

However, the suitability of each will depend on your company and products. UKTI, through its Passport to Export training provision and its experts in overseas embassies and consulates, can help you narrow down the options. It can help you with market intelligence on your preferred route, establish whether you need a direct sales operation, or establish whether an agent or distributor is more effective.

Case study: Chokolit’s appointing of a Mexican distributor helped them succeed.

Video: Agents and Distributors – Managing them effectively and resolving disputes.

5. Find out about selling and marketing your product overseas

It is important to consider how to market and sell your product overseas. There are a number of elements that make up the marketing mix to ensure competitiveness, including uniqueness of product, price, location and distribution channel. UKTI and its teams overseas can help to adapt your approach to local conditions and to find answers to the questions you’ll have. Passport to Export training also reviews this topic in some detail with the opportunity to exchange experiences with other participants.

Video: Localising your international websites for foreign target markets.

Video: Social media marketing – using social media to develop and maintain business relationships.

6. Think about cultural and linguistic challenges

If you need help with the linguistic and cultural aspects of doing business overseas, the Export Communications Review [ECR] offers companies a variety of options and advice, including cultural awareness reviews and communications planning.

Video case study: Training company Steps Drama passes on its tips for meeting cultural and linguistic challenges.

7. Prepare to manage finance, payment and risk

Managing international risk is an important part of exporting. There are several categories of risk to take into account. Some of the most important are:

  • Commercial: Non payment, insolvency, contract disputes, overdue payment, IPR, brand, reputation
  • Political: Government change, war, riots, terrorism etc., border disputes, changes in laws
  • Country: Exchange rate, high inflation

For more information on these categories of risk, see these sources:

UKTI’s Overseas Business Risk Service.
FCO Country Updates.

Choosing the most appropriate method of payment and exchange rate is an important decision to manage cash flow. This may depend on the customer, product and market conditions.

Putting in place a secure and efficient method of processing payments should be one of your top priorities when entering the international trade market. To get you off to the right start, Barclays Business Abroad offers you an exclusive 25% discount on all your outgoing and incoming international payments.

8. Prepare to protect your intellectual property

Protecting your intellectual property can be the difference between commercial success and failure. The Intellectual Property Office offers support and advice on all four main forms: patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. Speak to your local UKTI International Trade Team for initial guidance. Read more about how to protect your intellectual property on the Intellectual Property Office site.

Video: Protecting your rights outside the UK.

Video: Registrable intellectual property – patents, designs and trademarks.

9. Prepare to fulfil your orders and get your documentation right

It is important to know at an early stage regulations and legal requirements which must be complied with and trading terms which might apply. If done incorrectly consequences can be significant. Read further information, including training options, on the following sites:

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
British Chambers of Commerce.
Institute of Export.
UK Trade Tariffs via Business Link.

Video: Export documentation and getting the paperwork right.

10. Choose a distribution method

You need to consider the implications of selling over long distances. The kind of goods you export, the level of demand and the type of costs involved can all dictate your distribution options. The OMIS service offers a wealth of information and you may wish to contact the British International Freight Association (BIFA).

Video: Understanding and using Incoterms.

Video: Exporting outside the EU – Commodity codes and customs procedures.

Read: ‘New to exporting’ overview.

Read: ‘About exporting’ overview.
This article was first published by UK Trade and Investment. Read more about how UKTI can help your business export successfully.

Trading Internationally, British Chambers of Commerce. © British Chambers of Commerce. Source: www.britishchambers.org.uk

British International Freight Association. © BIFA 2012. Source: www.bifa.org

Topics: Export Concept, Export Planning, Export Process, and Getting Started
Export Action Plan