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With exporting, preparation is the key to success. Find out some of the research you’ll need to undertake before you enter a new market.

Every industry is different and will need to comply with different regulations. Invest some time to research to avoid costly mistakes.

Exporting to a new country has a magnitude of benefits. A main advantage being diversification of your market portfolio. This supports the reduction in business risk and an increase in profit, however it could also mean that your new market will have different characteristics, behaviours and cultures to the existing markets you work within.

Liverpool City Region companies export to over 100 countries across the globe, and the Atlantic-facing seaport makes European, Far-East and North American markets easily accessible. Although, to enter successfully you’ll need to invest in preparation and adaptation. Failure to do so will result in a poor reputation, loss of sales, or even legal action.

You will need to think about how you’ll approach positioning your brand in a new market and read up on best practice for trading.

5 ways to prepare for exporting to a new country

1. Plan a route to market

A person writing in a notebook

There’s an array of different routes to market for exporters:

  • Online
  • Trade shows
  • Agent or distributor
  • Licensing or franchising
  • Joint ventures
  • Open a local office in that market

The route you take depends on your business, background and experience.

All routes have their attractors and detractors. With online, for example, selling direct to your market allows for a cheaper entry point and control over your pricing. However, agents, distributors, and trade shows offer additional contacts and market knowledge. Online options include a website, social channels, or an online marketplace or using a combination of the three.

Having a physical office or subsidiary in the market allows for total control over operations and a higher potential for growth. Alternatively, you could use a licensing or franchising agreement to establish a presence in the chosen country. These have a lower cost, and the licensee or franchisee may have more experience in the market. However, all these options require extensive legal advice.

Your business may require a joint venture agreement. If not, these are only advised once you’ve established a share of the market.

Inventory

Additionally, it’s important to decide where you’ll hold stock. To reduce shipping costs, delivery times and risk, it’s advised to keep stock in a wide spread of international warehouses.

2. Thoroughly research the market

Culture

Understanding your market’s culture is more important than learning their language. The Department for Business & Trade (DBT) have market guides to advise on these differences.

Language

Take the time to learn keywords as a sign of respect to your chosen market. If there’s a strong language barrier in meetings/over emails, you could access the local British embassy’s list of interpreters to use or ask your local Chamber of Commerce for any signposting to a translations company.

Policies

When exporting to a new market, there are certain regulations and laws that you must comply with, such as:

  • Product liability laws
  • Bribery laws
  • Human rights violations
  • Modern slavery
  • Anti-corruption laws

As such, make sure you do plenty of research beforehand.

Three people looking at a computer screen

To reduce risk of a claim, it’s crucial to implement regular staff training, as well as running full background checks on any organisation your business will be associated with. Refer to government block lists and third-party sanctions databases, and use trusted organisations (trade advisors, local embassies) to carry this out.

3. Build up your contacts

The best way to build up a contact base is to attend industry events or register for a trade mission in your chosen market.

Similarly, attending international trade shows, whether as a guest or exhibitor, is valuable. Not only will contacts and potential clients be in attendance, but your competition will probably be there too. DBT have an up to date list of events to keep an eye on.

Crowd of people at a conference

Before attending a trade mission or trade show, it’s important to have:

  • A business pitch – focus on USP and target market
  • Business cards and promotional material (in local language)
  • Aim and goals for the visit
  • Demos or samples, if needed
  • Capacity to hold meetings
  • Locked down product or service pricing

4. Protect your intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) encompasses a business’ most valued, intangible assets. This can include but isn’t limited to, trademarks, copyright, and patents.

Once you’ve established what IP you have within the business, use your market’s government website to carry out a trademark search. This will show results for similar, existing trademarks. You’ll need to register your IP in your chosen market and if successful, register it online through a government IP office website.

Getting IP rights does vary from country-to-country, contact a global law firm with expertise in this area.

5. Adapt your website

Once you’ve researched the differences in culture and policies, you may need to adapt how you take your product to market, including your website.

Think about the following factors when adapting your website:

Translation

Translating the website increases your search ranking position, attracts a wider audience, and provides a positive user experience. Make sure you eliminate any cultural references or figures of speech.

Adapt to fit the culture/localisation

Ensure any measurements on site reflect market usage and adapt imagery and branding to fit that culture. It’s important to know local holidays too since these could be a marketing opportunity.

Two people looking at a computer

Add a domain name

Similar to translating, it’s important to have a domain extension for your chosen country (e.g. .it for Italy). This attracts traffic from your international market. A subdomain is a cheaper option and easier to manage, however it’s not as effective with traffic volume.

Ecommerce adaptions

Different markets prefer different payment methods – research your target markets to understand what method to choose.

Punctual delivery will build trust in a new market. It’s also advised that you match or improve on the convenience and price your competition offer.

Customer service integration

The easiest way to manage customer service in international markets is a multilingual chatbot tool. It can be integrated into your website and could answer any customer queries in real time.

Security

Most ecommerce platforms include data encryptions, firewall and payment protection. Make sure your website is compliant with industry standards and legal requirements, both in the UK and the markets you’re trading in.

Ready to get started or to grow your exporting?

Visit our Liverpool City Region Export Support service to speak to an expert and find out how we can support you.

This project is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as the lead authority and delivered by the borough’s six Local Authorities.

Funded by UK Government, Levelling Up, Liverpool City Region and Metro Mayor and Growth Platform logos