Last Thursday we were in London for the British Chambers of Commerce International Trade Summit 2018 where we met with chambers members, exporters, trade officials and business owners. Here’s our summary from a great day of export chat!
In his opening speech Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, highlighted the key focus points of the summit: “We’re here today to talk about trade, innovation, new markets and connecting businesses and customers across the world.” Further discussions throughout the day centred around the changing face of international trade and what it means for business, inspirational export advice from successful British business figures and how the power of brand can enhance your export journey.
The ‘B’ word
The ‘B’ word was unavoidable throughout a day of keynote speeches and panel discussions, however what became abundantly clear is that, during what feels like an uncertain period, businesses are finding ways to continue growing. We were inspired to hear a sense of optimism and opportunity amongst those in attendance.
Speakers representing businesses confirmed that in changing times the British Chambers of Commerce remains a trusted name that continues to help them negotiate the challenges of importing and exporting internationally. While Brexit negotiations continue, businesses are forging new trading links and the support of the BCC creates an environment that allows people to connect and build these links.
The BCC has put together resources to help businesses prepare for the change and to assess the progress of the negotiations. Take a look at some of their resources here.
Representing the Department for International Trade, Baroness Rona Fairhead, Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion, spoke on trade opportunity: “97 per cent of the world’s GDP is outside the UK. If you are not branching out internationally your business will only be scratching the surface of opportunity available.”
Echoing this message to embrace opportunity, Andrew Mitchell, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Europe, said: “It’s right to be ready for the problems today – as well as the opportunities tomorrow.”
Key business figures sitting on the panels also brought their own perspective on why trade continues to matter and bring huge opportunity for them. Adam Sopher, Co-founder and Director of gourmet popcorn company Joe & Seph’s, saw this time as a chance for his business to get ahead and explore new markets, especially in Asia and the UAE. Eat Natural Co-founder Praveen Vijh shared his experience of navigating this new environment; although his business is preparing as much as possible, he still has concerns around documentation and tariffs having an impact on future trade.
Key takeaways from businesses who have exported
So, what did the business owners have to say about their exporting experience?
- Focus on one or just a few markets. As you start looking to export you may be approached by several interested parties so make sure you don’t get caught up in the excitement. Really get to know your market and build up from a solid foundation.
- Research your market thoroughly. Spend time in the country and not just behind a stand at a trade show. Get a feel for what customers are experiencing in their market on a local level.
- Localise. Establish a local presence with the right partners who have the expertise to help you understand culture and consumer behaviour. Spend money on good translation and optimising your website for local audiences and payment methods.
- Make your USP clear. What makes your company stand out and how are you going to communicate this in different markets? You don’t need to lose who you are but think about how to adapt your message for different audiences around the world.
Were you at the summit? Share your thoughts or ask us a question @DHLExpressUK.