By Trevor Hoyle, Vice President Operations UK & Ireland, FedEx Express & FedEx UK Ltd

As supply chains become increasingly effective and sophisticated, it’s become as easy and quick to ship textiles to Turin as it is electronics to Ecuador. This has created exciting opportunities for British firms to do business in the farthest flung corners of the world.

Indeed, e-Commerce is now the driving force in the global economy and this trend shows no signs of slowing.

Whether you’re already established abroad and considering expansion or just starting to think globally, taking the decision to reach new markets can be daunting. We’ve put together some advice aimed at helping you create your export strategy.

Research your market
The world is a big place and it can be hard to know where first to stake your flag. As a company with experience of exporting to almost every country in the world, we are fully aware of the challenges faced on a local level.

Researching new markets is essential in helping to reduce risk and improve your chance of success. Once you have identified a possible market, ask yourself “What is demand likely to be?” Global e-commerce is predicted to grow to $1.5 trillion this year, driven by growth in emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India. China is now the second-largest e-Commerce market in the world, by 2020 Chinese e-tailing is projected to match the size of today’s U.S., U.K., Japan, German, and French markets combined.

All of these markets could represent an excellent opportunity for your business. That’s not to say bigger is necessarily better as your product might find a small, but profitable niche in a lesser market closer to home. The key is to consider all options and make the right decision for your business.

Develop an action plan
The rewards for thinking internationally can be considerable but it’s vital to first develop an all-encompassing strategy which lays out clear objectives and a step-by-step plan of how to meet them. Consider the realities of exporting and how these might impact on other areas of your business, for example, domestically.

For further advice on what to include in your action plan, speak to your express transport provider who will often be able to provide you with all the expert information you need.

Whatever you decide; adopt a steady, sustainable and controlled approach to growth and expand slowly; one country at a time. Making certain you are 100% ready before entering new markets will enable you to achieve real and lasting commercial success.

Get accustomed to customs
One of the biggest issues faced when trading abroad is dealing with the differences in customs regulations and duties around the world, something which causes headaches to even the biggest of exporters. Not only are these different from country to country, they are also in constant flux and, just for good measure; each product/commodity has different rules associated with it.

Providing accurate shipment information is absolutely critical to the efficiency of the process. Always try to provide full details with each shipment including certificates, licenses, etc. Be as descriptive as possible when filling out the commercial invoice as this is the single most important paperwork for international shipping. Think of it as your shipment’s passport.

More than just A to B...
Logistics is more than simply transporting goods for one place to another. It’s a solution for getting the right thing to the right place at the right time — and in the process bringing real value to your supply chain.

Your logistics provider can offer a goldmine of information on how to maximise your supply chain efficiently, so ensure you ask the right questions to gather the right information. Thoroughly explain your business objectives and don’t forget: logistics isn’t just a tick list of costs, it’s about adding value. If you can leverage their knowledge and expertise when tapping into new markets, you may attain invaluable strategic advice.

For more information on how FedEx Express could help your business gain customers in new markets, please visit www.fedex.com/gb