Trading with the USA

trading with america

We spoke to a number of businesses that have already seen success when exporting to the USA to get top tips to help you in your quest for successful trading with America.

Think big, but stay focused

The US is a vast country with over 50 states, some with bigger populations than many European countries, and understandably there are also cultural differences between north, south, east and west coasts. Therefore, thinking of the US as one market is a mistake. When trading with America, UK businesses are advised to divide their focus region by region rather than trying to take the entire nation by storm in one go.

Segmenting your product/service

After segregating the USA’s geographic landscape, you can further make your task simpler by categorising your product or service into the following categories:

  • By the products/services you wish to market
  • By the different mix of benefits sought by each distinct group of customers
  • By where your product/service is available for purchase
  • By the time of year your product/service is available (if it’s seasonal)
  • By the method of payment (standing order v credit card v retainer etc.)
  • By industry sector
  • By customer size or type (industry sector, number of employees, turnover, number of offices etc.)
  • By consumption patterns (heavy user/light user, SEC, age bracket etc.)
  • By geography, by targeting certain states that are most relevant to your offering

Each segment can then be prioritised and treated as a distinct market, at which your pricing strategy, product mix, promotions and points of distribution can be aimed in a logical way.

Attend trade shows

Trade shows are well attended in the US and are therefore an ideal way for British companies to meet representatives, including buyers, suppliers and potential partners before exporting to the USA. Research is key here. UK businesses should ensure they attend the ones that match their industry best. They must also attend regularly to give US buyers and partners a chance to network with them and build a connection.

Gauge the competition

It is important to learn about your competition before exporting to the USA. This effort will determine whether or not there is potential for your product or service, whether it can be sold profitably, and what features and benefits need to be emphasised or added.

Understand your supply chain

A lot of businesses steer away from exporting because they fear that once their goods have left the country they will disappear forever along with any profit. You can overcome this fear by really understanding how your goods will get from A to B, when duties are added, what regulations apply and how much your product will cost once it arrives at the other end. Consultation from a lawyer also helps smooth the process, as can keeping in mind that America is a federal country, so state laws can differ considerably.

Think about the customer

The US has a very strong service culture so make sure your marketing and website are tweaked to make it easy for American consumers and businesses to buy from you. Therefore, a simple thing such as converting prices into dollars is a must. Acquiring a toll free (1-800) number connecting to a call centre open during peak hours also helps customers form an affiliation with your brand.

Understand American terms

When trading with America, it’s important to learn the relevant documentation terminology. Below are some British terms you will be familiar with and their American equivalent.


  • Certification of Incorporation: Copy of the Articles of Incorporation & Amendments
  • Directors’ names and addresses: Copy of the Corporation’s most recent completed Statement of Information, which is an annual statement filed with the Secretary of State. This lists the company’s address, officers/directors, and agent for service of process and their addresses.
  • Annual accounts and annual forms: Annual accounts and annual returns – though annual returns from the Franchise Tax Board is not public information
  • Full list of shareholders: Shareholder information is NOT a public record in the USA.