As with any business, an export venture needs careful planning and preparation. The first question to answer is whether exporting is the right strategy. Some businesses are not right for international trading, although many will benefit greatly from entering new markets.
Businesses that are best suited to selling abroad are those which have products or services where the audience understands what they are buying, and knows how to assess the product features from a distance, without personal contact.
Researching your market
• Do other UK businesses in the same sector use export, and are similar products to yours sold in other countries?
• Do your existing customers buy imported goods and services already, and will they welcome the opportunity to buy your products and services?
• Will your pricing let you compete in the market – or perhaps succeed where other businesses are not doing so well?
• How big is the market, and how easy is it to identify and find potential customers?
• What are the non-product sales costs, including transport, logistics, administration and after-sales support?
Starting to export
If you think your products or services can be sold abroad, and at a profit, you’ll need to get them in front of the market. There are several ways of doing this, such as:
• using marketing agents
• exhibiting at trade fairs
• creating press releases and other country-specific promotional material
Other basic considerations for exporting include:
• how trading internationally will impact on your existing business
• what resources are needed for order fulfilment and after-sales service
• what legislation and regulation do you need to be aware of and what taxes will you be require to pay
• what differences exist between UK and international customers, including buying behaviour and cultural conventions