Exporting can be daunting and challenging and having export sales does not necessarily mean that the correct foundation for a successful exporting business has been laid.
Becoming export ready requires real commitment to build a viable export business. Whether you have received an enquiry from an overseas customer or are looking to take a proactive approach, it is vital that all parts of your business are ‘export ready’.
The key to exporting is understanding the specific requirements and expectations of that market and is a crucial component to develop a successful export strategy.
The following list covers the key elements to consider to ensure that you are ready to trade internationally:
• What does your company want to gain from exporting?
• Is exporting consistent with other company goals?
• What demands will exporting place on your company’s key resources, management and personnel, production capacity and financing, and how will these demands be met?
• Are the expected benefits worth the costs, or would company resources be better used for developing new domestic business?
Is your product ready to export? To determine export readiness, consider these additional factors:
If your product is a success domestically, the next step is to identify why it sells or has sold so well, keeping in mind that conditions in another market may differ significantly for example, socially, culturally, economically, politically and environmentally.
You may sell your product without modifications to international markets, as long as it meets the standards and regulations set by the respective countries. Some countries have strict governmental regulations that require special testing, safety, quality and conformity measures. Depending on the product and market, suppliers may need to alter labelling, colours, sizes and packaging to accommodate local conditions and consumer preferences.
Products that have unique features enjoy a competitive advantage and better reception in overseas markets. Such unique features could include health benefits, “all natural” and “free from”.
Some classifications of products require specific documentation such as Certificates of Origin and Export Health Certificates. It is also important to understand paperwork requirements for customs, logistics, insurance and sales contracts.
Make sure you understand the intellectual property (IP) rights of your target market, as well as the level of IP protection or enforcement you'll have while operating.
Researching these factors will ascertain whether exporting is the right decision for your business and if you are ready to commit to developing a solid export plan.