By Trevor Hoyle, Vice President, FedEx Express UK & Ireland
With the UK recording the strongest export growth in Europe in 2013, the time is ripe for British businesses to capitalise on overseas opportunities. This year, British export growth is predicted to rise to 3.6%. As a result, the UK is set to become the second fastest growing G7 economy this year (after the US), ahead of Germany, Japan and Canada.
Our biggest trading partners currently remain established players such as the US, Germany, France and Ireland. However, added to that list are China and the United Arab Emirates. Thanks to a long and proud pedigree, British brands can capitalise on the UK’s high quality heritage image abroad. Companies across the world appreciate quality British products and enjoy trading with British businesses. Everything from whiskey to tweed jumpers and even lemon curd have found new fans in surprising places.
Everything points in one direction: the time to export is now. To get you off to a flying start, we wanted to share our top 10 exporting 'Must Dos' to achieve exporting success.
1) Keep An Open Mind.
Exporting to established economies may seem like the easy option, but don't forget that new markets are emerging all the time. You may already have considered selling to the Baltics but have you considered South Africa?
2) Do your research.
Getting clued up on potential markets does not need to cost the earth. The internet is a brilliant resource as are small business groups and networks. Once you've identified a country, try to get out there and meet the locals, browse the supermarket shelves and shop windows to scope out the competition and meet distributors face-to-face.
3) Test the (international) waters.
Focus on one country for starters to ensure your domestic business is kept in order. There's plenty of time to conquer the rest of the world!
4) Be prepared.
Since the dawn of e-commerce, a product's popularity can go from nought to 100 incredibly quickly. Ensure you make plans just in case your product flies out of the blocks even faster than you expect.
5) Look for funding.
The government recognises the importance of exporting by offering £3billion in funding to UK businesses. Make sure you take full advantage of this… or someone else will.
6) Consider your brand.
What works in the UK may not work abroad. Why not take advantage of the excellent reputation British products enjoy overseas by incorporating "British-ness" into your brand to give it the edge over its local counterparts?
7) Ask: "Is the price right?"
Your product’s perfect price point will differ from country to country, and getting it right is absolutely crucial to securing both distributors and customers. Don't forget to factor in additional transport costs and exchange rates to keep your margins healthy.
8) Get accustomed to customs.
This is a crucial but often overlooked step when exporting. Customs regulations can vary a lot from country to country and checking early on in the process if there are barriers to your product could save you a lot of time and effort.
9) Think like a local.
Getting to grips with a new culture isn't just an enlightening personal experience, it's fundamental to the success of your product. In some places, haggling can make a deal, in others it can break one. Getting to know the local business culture helps you understand what makes the people tick allowing harmonious and productive relationships to flourish.
10) Logistics is a lot more than just "A to B".
Whoever transports your goods overseas, make sure you make the most of them by tapping into their expertise. The right logistics firm can offer you invaluable advice on navigating customs and give you an insight into which market may be right for you.