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Export success: stories from British international traders



At the British Chambers of Commerce 2015 International Trade Conference, international traders Scott Goodfellow (Director at Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree), Michael Wilkinson (Deputy Managing Director, Frog Education) and Gemma Price (Co-founder of Superfood Market) discussed their path to export success with Andy Reid, Managing Director of Moneycorp. Here is their advice:

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British businesses have a strong advantage and should think about exporting from the start

Gemma Price emphasised that she planned to take her business – selling health foods online – internationally “almost from the get go.”

Michael Wilkinson, in turn, didn’t plan to export from the beginning. Still, he soon realised that exporting “made sense” for Frog Education as British education and technology are both considered market leaders throughout the world. Scott Goodfellow also believes in the strength of Brand Britain: “People around the world want the British label,” and he “want[s] to encourage every UK business to export.”

E-commerce makes international trade easier than ever before

In Andy Reid’s words, “the internet and consumer growth allow globalisation to happen very quickly. If you use the internet, your penetration to market is significantly easier and if you can sell your goods online, you’re at a distinct advantage.”

To find out more about cross border online trade, visit our e-commerce page for resources, news and more case studies.

Don’t let your business’s size hold you back from going global

Scott Goodfellow told the audience “it doesn’t take a massive department [to export] – it takes smart committed people.” He also reminded current and prospective international traders that it’s worth the effort: “Exporting is hard work but it’s great fun and very rewarding.”

Don’t forget how important customer service is to your business

Gemma Price, who receives 300 to 400 international enquiries every day, believes “good communications and customer service is as important as the product, especially overseas.” As her company operates B2C, most queries are customer service related – and many are in a foreign language. Gemma emphasised the importance of responding to every query and added that “international customers don’t mind Google-translated answers that much if they like your brand.”

Show your commitment by innovating your offering and being creative when it counts

Building on the importance of customer service, Scott Goodfellow talked about how for the Japanese market, Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree ended up adding muffins to their offering because a large customer in Japan assumed muffins were part of the product range. This move saw no immediate gain, but showing commitment did have a highly positive long term effect for the company’s presence in Japan.

Think about how you’ll manage payment and market fluctuations

Andy Reid emphasised that exporters need to “make sure payment instructions and terms are clear”

Commenting on how the currently strong pound is affecting her businesses, Gemma Price noted that though it is having an impact, overall it “evens out” – an assessment with which Scott Goodfellow and Michael Wilkinson agreed.

Build strong networks

Mike Wilkinson considers it essential to “find the right partners and get on the ground. Don’t just make calls or send emails – go there or bring them over!”

Similarly, Scott Goodfellow said it’s all about “finding great local people to work with, great local partners and distributors.”

Start small

You don’t have to trade with every country! Scott Goodfellow for example pointed out that there are “plenty of opportunities in the EU – which is a big market. So think France first, maybe China in five years’ time!”

For more information on trading internationally, give our Business Export Advisors a call on 0844 248 0675 – and don’t forget to check out our global trade map to find out more about prospective export destinations.

 

 

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