An export plan checklist
An export plan checklist
Good planning is essential to successful exporting. So before you begin, make sure you give careful consideration to these important steps.
You should draw up an individual export plan for your business with the advice of your International Trade Managers and trade advisers, but our checklist can help you identify the most important aspects you need to consider.
Are you ready to export?
The idea of increased sales through export needs to be tempered by the reality of committing time, manpower and finance to a business investment that probably won’t see a return for the first year. So it’s important to think seriously if your business is in a position to start exporting.
You’ll need to consider if your product meets overseas regulations and standards or if it will need modifications. And if you have a patent or trademark here in the UK, it won’t be recognised in other countries so you’ll need to take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property abroad.
Associations like the UKTI and Chambers of Commerce can provide free, expert assessments to help you decide if you’re ready to export.
Identify your market
Trade advisers through organisations like the UKTI or Chambers of Commerce can provide you with valuable information and advise you on the markets with the most potential for your business. Of course, you’ll need to consider if you want to benefit from the ease of established markets – like open trade with the EU – or take on the greater complexity involved with high growth and emerging markets.
Research your market
Once you’ve identified your market, you should learn everything you can about it – the culture, the economic and political environment, the customs, the markets, how business is conducted, the competition you’ll face, etc.
There are a number of ways in which you can source country information – through the UKTI, Chambers of Commerce, governments, international trade bodies and more. But actually visiting your intended market is really important. It enables you to experience the business culture first-hand, test the market, meet potential partners, distributors and agents and attract customers.
Associations like the UKTI and Chambers of Commerce offer a wide range of services to help with overseas visits, including finance, interpreters, introductions to potential business partners, help with identifying local agents/distributors, etc.
Decide how you’re going to sell overseas
How you decide to get your products to market depends on what they are, where they’re going and how involved you want to be in getting them there. Typically, there are 4 options:
- Selling direct from the UK – when you include website sales, 90% of UK businesses export directly 1. This could be because they only expect a small number of orders, their customers are spread across many countries or they want to ensure the quality of their product.
- Using distributors – you sell your products to them and they sell them on locally.
Using agents – they sell your products on your behalf, or introduce you to potential customers on a commission basis.
Over 40% of UK businesses export through distributors and/or agents, finding that their local market knowledge helps to better identify potential customers and handle logistics 1. It’s important than these relationships are managed by clear contracts that define each party’s responsibilities.
- Joint venture – you go into partnership with a local business.
Promoting your product
How you promote your product and business here in the UK won’t necessarily work abroad. You’ll need to consider the obvious language differences, as well as the cultural approaches to marketing and what the competition is doing.
If you’re selling online, it’s important that you translate the relevant pages of your website – both from a search engine point of view so that local customers can find your site but also because people are more likely to purchase in their own language.
Protect against payment risks
Managing financial risk is a vital part of exporting, whether it’s payment issues or exchange rate considerations.
You can help protect your business against non-payment and political or economic situations with the right insurance. Barclays Business Abroad gives you the tools and services you need to make the most of your international opportunities.
Your International Trade Managers can advise you further on payment risks, as the best route forward will depend on your business, customers, product and market conditions.
Deliver your products
Shipping products internationally can be a complex process, which is probably why most UK businesses choose to use freight forwarders to handle the logistics and required paperwork.
It’s important that you have clear contracts in place that define who is responsible for your products at every stage of transit and you should ensure that they are insured, either by yourself or by the importer.
If you decide to manage delivery yourself, trade advisers from organisations like the Chambers of Commerce or UKTI can provide you with guidance.
Keep in touch
Just like in the UK, you should maintain regular contact with your customers, agents, distributors and partners,in order to build strong working relationships. You should also keep an eye on the economic and political environment of your destination country to make sure that you’re in a position to respond quickly to any changes that may impact your exporting.