Taking the first steps into exporting can be a bold and scary move, but businesses increasingly need to be international in outlook. Here are a few points to consider.
1. Do your research
It should go without saying that market research is critical, but it’s important to emphasise the need to understand the market you are entering. Customers in different markets have different tastes, different attitudes to spending and different quirks of habit which you need to take into account to maximise success. You also need to find out how goods are priced in that market and whether that works for you when considering the costs.
2. Be prepared to adapt
Moving into a new market isn’t simply a question of logistics. If you’re planning on exporting you need to be ready to meet different customer demands, legal systems and economic environments. Make sure your domestic business is flexible enough to accommodate these differences.
3. Internationalising your website
Overseas customers need to be able to find your products and information about your business as they may otherwise be less inclined to do business with you. If you’re planning on targeting a particular overseas market in a big way then you might consider getting your website translated. IF not then at least make sure it is accessible and easy to understand by avoiding slang words.
4. Consider customs restrictions
Sending goods overseas can be a complicated, bureaucratic business. Permits, quotas, tariffs and other regulations can weigh down on your profit margins, as well as taking up a lot of your time. Be sure to research the restrictions on your goods in the market you are targeting – if you’re not sure then seek legal advice.
5. Get help
Various organisations exist to help businesses take their steps out into international markets. UKTI can provide information and sometimes funds to help get you off the ground and your local chambers of commerce may be able to give advice also.
6. Think about payment method
While paying by debit or credit card may seem like second nature to us, international customers expect to be able to pay in a variety of ways. For instance in Germany it’s common to pay for online goods via bank transfer, rather than by credit card. You need to do your research into what methods suit your target market.
7. Protect your products
Long distance deliveries can place extreme demands on your goods. Extremes of temperature, low air pressure, dubious freight handlers and rickety roads all have the potential to damage your products and leave customers less than satisfied. Ensure your goods are well packaged and delivered by a reliable distributor.
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