International Trade

DIT adviser Sue Beverley on how to master exporting

4 min read

01 August 2018

Former special projects journalist

Sue Beverley from the Department for International Trade recently gave a talk at Amazon Academy Newcastle, an event series aimed at small businesses that are looking to expand online.

At the recent Amazon Academy event in Newcastle event, Sue Beverley from the Department of International Trade discussed the ways the DIT can help UK businesses export, and the pitfalls to avoid when starting out on a mission to go global. With the right support, it could be easier than you think to start selling online to overseas customers.

“I sometimes have people say, oh no, I don’t export…but if you sell overseas, if you sell anything, one thing…then you’re an exporter,” said Beverley.

Here are Beverley’s top tips for businesses looking to export online.

  1.   Nail your strategy

“Top tip number one, get your strategy right. That’s what we’re here to help you with,” said Beverley.

The DIT can offer very practical advice for businesses, so if you speak to your local adviser, they might look at your website and help you out in terms of SEO.

When the website is optimised, they might help you look at lead generation to that website – for example, if your targeting France, which are the key social media platforms you need to target? This feeds in to the second tip, which is…

  1.   Know your market

Beverley gave an example of a sunglasses campaign launched in South East Asia, which featured a dog wearing sunglasses.

“They thought, we love our pets, don’t we, in the UK?” she said.

“In parts of this part of South East Asia, dogs were seen as unclean, and the last thing you would do was put an expensive pair of sunglasses on a dog. So that really died a death.”

The DIT advisers are on hand to help small businesses understand these intricacies of marketing in new countries, and how products may need adapting slightly to suit the needs of these markets.

  1. Think global, act local

“It doesn’t matter whether they’re a thousand miles away in Spain or wherever, people still buy from people that they can trust,” said Beverley.

“While you can’t necessarily meet all the customers face to face, you’ve got to make it look like you’re a local company and they are buying from the person next door.”

For example, think about making your website a .com rather than a .co.uk, translating your page, or offering payment in the local currency.

The DIT can help with translations, and it’s better safe than sorry – Beverley gave examples of businesses that had missed the mark, such as “Barf” in Iran, a washing powder, and “Urinal”, a tea from the Czech Republic.

From choosing a market to target to deciding whether to sell on your own website or a third-party platform, the DIT is available to offer advice to help your business scale. Is it time for your businesses to dip a toe in exporting waters?

The next Amazon Academy takes place on 11 September at Celtic Manor, Wales. To learn more and register for free click here.