According to a report by the British Chamber of Commerce, the final quarter of 2015 witnessed exports fall to below pre-recession levels. Experiencing its poorest performance since 2009, the UK needs companies to focus more on overseas markets if it wants to see exports pick up again. Here Simone Bruckner, Managing Director, Cressall Resistors, shares his three top tips for UK manufacturers considering exporting.
Preparing an exporting strategy may seem like an obvious first step for companies that want to start exporting, but the international market is a complicated realm. As an exporter, you have to constantly adapt, innovate and improve to stay on top - and your strategy is no exception to this rule. While a strategy may succeed in breaking into one country’s market, this does not guarantee its success in another.
In the early stages of entering a market, planning and research are essential. Deciding who your key customers are, putting together a viable plan of action and finding suitable business partners should not be done in haste. For companies new to exporting, the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) provides tailored advice and assistance– a great starting point for export beginners.
Technology might make communication faster, but not always better. For exporters, preserving relationships with overseas customers is both integral and tricky. International trade exhibitions provide a great opportunity to travel to meet customers and distributors. Although, for manufacturers with a large customer base, this personal touch is not always practical.
When establishing potential overseas markets, it is essential to find partners and distributors with native knowledge of the culture, courtesies and expected business etiquette. If you are equipped with on-the-ground knowledge, establishing the best practice for communicating with customers becomes less like guesswork. In fact, in most instances, working with distributors will take the stress of customer relations entirely out of your hands.
Distributors with local cultural knowledge are an advantage, but there is more to finding an ideal partner than their familiarity with local formalities. Ideally, distributors of industrial equipment should also have a technical understanding of your product. Paired with ready-made connections, this partnership will provide the best representation for your product on new soil.
Global economic uncertainty, government cuts, the impact of the living wage and the potential EU referendum all pose significant risks to the manufacturing sector in the UK. Ultimately, these issues will cause hesitation for some British manufacturers that may be considering exporting.
International customers are looking for confident, trustworthy suppliers, willing to invest a significant amount of time, effort and money into maintaining their overseas business connections. For Cressall Resistors, lasting relationships with customers are built on the foundations of fast delivery, trustworthy service and above all, confidence in our exporting abilities. Representing 47% of total sales at Cressall Resistors, exports are our bread and butter. What’s more, the remaining 53% is linked with export projects, so we are more than familiar with both the risks and advantages of overseas trading.
The challenges of exporting in today’s economic landscape are clear and to some extent, nerve-racking. However, seizing the opportunity to introduce your product to the worldwide market is not something you should let pass by.