It’s safe to say that exporting can be a little confusing and often very daunting for new businesses. So in light of the UK Trade & Investment’s (UKTI) Export Week, 9-13 November, here are some top tips for companies ready to throw open their doors to the world.
For many countries import and export is the life-blood of the economy, society and culture; history has been shaped by foreign exports. In the UK, without exports from other countries throughout history we wouldn’t have things now considered inherently British - wild rabbits, horseradish and of course the elixir that powers the country, tea.
The UKTI's latest research shows that firms who choose to export become 34% more productive in their first year, while those already exporting achieve 59% faster productivity growth than non-exporters.
Despite these figures, there is still a reluctance to take the plunge when it comes to exporting.
The best way to begin is to stick to what you know. Most companies start off by exporting to countries that are culturally similar. By exporting to a country that speaks the same language as you do and has the same cultural norms, you’re going to diminish the risk of making a social faux par or accidently saying buongiorno to your Spanish speaking customers. Or worse.
Most of all, exporting comes down to research and preparation - regardless of where you’re thinking of shipping to. For example, when customers call European Automation they’re put through to native speakers to avoid culture and language barriers, ensuring the best possible buying experience.
If you’re selling electrical goods or machinery, do you know the energy efficiency standards of the countries you’re supplying to? Does the product meet these regulations? This is an incredibly important question at the moment with the majority of governments implementing - or in the process of introducing - energy regulations. For example, in the UK there's the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme that comes into play in December 2015, as well as the Ecodesign directive, which stipulates the ecological requirements of electrical products manufactured and used within the EU.
In addition, there's the issue of electrical voltage. Does your product need to be modified before being sold to certain markets? Ultimately, is this cost effective?
Then there’s the question of the factors that will affect your product’s price – local taxes, method of payment, type of currency, insurance and the associated risks.
As daunting as it may seem, exporting is a lucrative option for many businesses and incredibly rewarding when it pays off.
By Jonathan Wilkins, Marketing Director of European Automation