It’s time to export!

This entry was posted in Chambers of Commerce, Import/export advice, International Chamber of Commerce, International trade, Made in Britain, Small business. Bookmark the permalink.

Posted by matt : Posted on October 20, 2011

Everyone who runs a business making things, or selling things, or providing services, needs to think about it. Why? Because exporting can help you grow profit, spread your risk and get ahead of the competition. In this article, the International Chamber of Commerce tells us why it’s so important for British businesses to get exporting…


Exporting can help you reach a bigger market

The market place is global.  If you don’t try to reach consumers outside the UK you are limiting yourself to a tiny percentage of the available demand for your products.

If your product is a specialist or niche product or service, there may be even better prospects for it abroad than in the UK.

If your product is aimed at high end consumers, you might find it easier to tap into wealthy customers abroad than to increase your sales to less wealthy customers in the UK.

If your product is a B2B product aimed at a certain business sector, you might find the UK demand for it has peaked, but you can tap into new markets elsewhere.

Exporting can help you raise your gross margin

The same goods do not sell for the same price all over the world, or indeed all over Europe.

In some cases, the prices you can aim for in export markets might be higher than in the UK.

In other markets you might find a cheaper route to your target consumers, maybe by selling entirely online and thus avoiding retail margins.  Currency exchange rates can also play a part.

Exporting can help you match and even beat your competition

Even if you’re not exporting, your competitors probably are. If some of your competitors are based abroad, they are probably already exporting or thinking of exporting into the UK. You’re going to have to face them in your own backyard sooner or later.  Why not take the fight to them?

Exporting can help you spread your risk

In today’s unstable economic and financial climate, you cannot be sure when a downturn might hit your local market.  But not all markets have been buffeted by economic turbulence in the same way, or at the same time.  Indeed, the economies of India, China and Qatar are all expected to grow at more than 5% this year.

By selling into more than one country or region of the world you stand a good chance of spreading your risk. And you don’t need many markets abroad to enjoy the benefits. A couple of well chosen foreign markets can help.

Exporting can help you reduce overheads

There is a long established concept in economics of ‘economies of scale’. The key principle of economies of scale is this:  the more you sell the lower your per unit overheads.

The same principle applies in your office.  If you have someone who looks at marketing, they can probably take some time out of their normal day to look at a new overseas market without increasing your overhead costs.

Exporting can help you refine your product

It is a mistake to think that your product or service, once launched, need never change. All products change: they are refreshed, updated, improved. Change is all about responding to consumer needs.

The more markets you are in, the easier it will be for you to learn from a wide range of consumers,   thus giving you an edge on your competition.  Listening to a wide range of consumers can help keep you ahead of the curve.

Exporting is easier than you think

  • It is a cliché to say that English is spoken (almost) everywhere. But it is true.More important, the language of business is spoken (almost) everywhere.  Yes, there are some differences in business culture in some countries. But, in general, business people all over the world speak the same language.
  • You need to find the right partner.  Lots of people can help you (for very little cost in most cases).  Or you can do it yourself.
  • Think of a comparable product to yours and find out who handles it in whatever country you are interested in. Ask them if they want to sell your product too.
  • The right partner will help you sort out the local requirements for getting Government approvals for your goods, the right labelling and language on the box, the best route to market etc. Remember they will want to succeed as much – or even more – than you do.
  • And you can choose the terms of business. Everyone recognises the key Incoterms (the formula used to describe at what point risk passes from seller to buyer).  These terms have been developed by the International Chamber of Commerce and are in use worldwide (and in English).
  • There are also ICC approved model contracts, so you don’t need to struggle with your partner’s effort to get you to read through a local contract!

Exporting might lead you into becoming a truly global business…

Think big.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is a global business organisation, working to support international trade and investment through the promotion of open markets, sound regulation, and the rule of law. Members of ICC UK in the UK include a wide range of multinationals, business associations and SMEs. For more information please visit their website

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