By Matt Guffey, Director of Marketing, UK Ireland and the Nordics, UPS
Trade between the U.S. and the UK is currently worth more than £130bn a year. That’s not surprising seeing as Gov.uk recently named the U.S. as the UK’s “fourth easiest country to do business with”. The sheer size of the U.S. market, a shared language, similar cultures and legal systems all make the U.S. an obvious choice when considering expanding internationally. UK businesses also have an enduring appeal in the U.S. Brand Britain has a reputation for reliability and a proven track record of excellence and quality.
Now is the perfect time for UK firms to seize new export opportunities in the U.S. Not only is international expansion great for your business, but you will also be helping to strengthen the UK economy. So what’s stopping you? We know from talking to small business owners that some feel it’s too expensive or too complicated to export, especially beyond Europe. We’ve drawn on our experience from collaborating with thousands of small businesses just like you to bring you our top tips for tapping into the U.S. market:
1. Research, Research, Research
Beyond identifying your potential customers’ needs, you need to know what local laws and regulations apply to the items you’re importing into the U.S. It is a relatively open market, but there are regulations and licensing requirements which can vary on a state-by-state basis. Trade missions provide an excellent opportunity to explore the market, to speak to other businesses about their experiences, and to assess the competition.
2. Know Your Market
It is important to have a good understanding of where your goods will end up. The U.S. is a vast country, and it is important to determine if it’s the right market for your products and who your competition is. Luckily, there is plenty of help. UPS has an online Export Toolkit with export checklists and case studies to help first-time exporters navigate different overseas markets, including the U.S. UKTI also have a trading guide that offers tips and guidance on visiting trade fairs and understanding overseas business risks.
3. Put Your Customers First
A steady and loyal customer base is a key component to any successful business venture, and offering convenience and choice is often the best way to achieve this. A hassle free returns process is particularly important to drive customer loyalty in the US. Reliable delivery and ease of returns is an essential feature of driving repeat sales, so finding a logistics partner you can trust is important.
4. Make the Most of ‘Brand Britain’
Over the last few years there has been a renaissance in consumer appetite for British products, which was jump-started by the London Olympics shining a light on what Britain can offer to a global audience. UK goods have become synonymous with quality, reliability and prestige in the global marketplace. For SMEs with a product to sell, there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on this by extending the reach of their brands into the U.S. market.
5. Be Genuine and Highlight What You Have to Offer New Customers
Finally, think about your brand and how you will tell your unique story! Now is the time to grasp new export opportunities that will not only mean success for your own business but also help to strengthen the UK economy for years to come.