To effectively reach high growth markets around the world, exporters need to use the right technologies
BCC’s Executive Director of Commercial Services David Riches launched the session by stressing the power of technology: “Whether you’re a large, mid-sized or small business, there’s never been a better time to win opportunities and business overseas – and technology is a key enabler.”
Government representative Ed Pikett emphasised that UKTI’s Exporting is GREAT campaign aims to use technology to achieve just that. As we explained last week, Exporting is GREAT gives businesses a real-time overview of international business opportunities. 90 applications came in just hours after launch, demonstrating “there’s a real hunger and demand for this site.”
Too many businesses still start off as ‘accidental exporters’
As part of the session, BCC’s David Riches led a panel with two successful exporters: Jon Hatton, Director Business Development at iX Cameras, and Dipesh Mistry from tablet and phone stand manufacturer DesignMi. Mistry explained: “We didn’t go out there to export, but we’ve fallen into exporting as we reached more than 60 countries with our website.”
As iX Cameras started off as a division of Olympus, the team did have an international mindset from the beginning. Today, more than 95% of iX Cameras’ products are exported with a combination of direct sales (in the US) and distributors (in Japan and China). In Hatton’s words, “Everything we do is export; we can’t rely on the UK market.”
Many businesses are still apprehensive about going global, as they’re unsure their product or service is suitable for export and they’re concerned about how to manage language barriers, security and IP, currency fluctuations, returns and the general risk of failure. However, the solution isn’t to defer developing an export strategy – rather, businesses need to have the right attitude and support to trade internationally from the moment their website is launched. Neil Kuschel, DHL Express UK’s VP of Sales, noted this shift is already taking place: “Increasingly we see new businesses start up with the idea that if they have a decent website, the whole world is their oyster.” Cross border e-commerce plays a large role in helping businesses achieve their international ambitions. As Kuschel explained: “It can take 18 months to two years to become an exporter – but with e-commerce this can be expedited.”
Use technology to choose the best target markets
To choose a successful target market, Kuschel recommended to “be available to the whole world, but focus on the countries that are specific to you.” He suggested focusing on Europe due to proximity as well as Commonwealth countries due to the English language connection – though South Korea is a major destination for UK fashion exports. Microsoft’s Mark Deakin said it’s also helpful to look at your social engagement and website analytics to see where there’s already an interest in your brand.
Kuschel shared his tips for how to succeed once you’ve chosen a market. His advice included using local domain names to “double, triple, or even quadruple your sales.” Citing the example of online fashion retailer ASOS, Kuschel emphasised that businesses need to make it easy for customers to receive their goods, and that offering express delivery and free returns can help increase basket values.
‘Made in Britain’ can definitely be an advantage when selling internationally
At the International Trade Conference on 3 November, consensus was divided as to how important Brand Britain is for UK companies selling overseas. However, for Mistry the fact that his products are made in the UK is essential: “British manufacturing still holds a lot of value overseas – saying it’s British made is a huge selling point.” Hatton, whose product is also largely made in the UK, agreed: “It is a powerful tool to say the product is manufactured in the UK.”
For more advice on going global, get in touch with our Business Export Advisors: 0844 248 0675.