18 Mar UK plc needs more revenue from exports
But watch out!
Should the UK leave the EU as it is still legally on track to do, many companies will need a thorough export strategy or to beef up their existing one. It will not be good enough to passively wait for existing or new customers to make enquiries. Specific countries need to be considered and, with that, a specific approach tailored to those countries.
Some 90 per cent of UK businesses do not sell their products and services overseas. It is therefore no surprise that, although UK exports do represent a third of the UK’s GDP, this is still less than that of comparable nations across Europe.
So if you’re planning to expand internationally outward from the UK, beware not to omit a detailed plan of market research. In the language industry, we get an increasing number of enquiries relating to export of all kinds of products and services because many people know that the language OF the customer is the language FOR the customer. Find out more here.
How many times did you see a Hyundai advertised in Korean, for instance?
But before that very key point, consider the sales industry and sector of your target market and what differences there are, then adapt to those.
Take Denmark – here it is illegal to send marketing emails unless the recipient gives permission in advance. So you can’t advertise your product or service in unsolicited fashion by buying an email database and batch-mailshotting targeted customer addresses, as may happen in the UK.
Because it is illegal, your company is liable to be sued – which is very easy to do as you’ve given all your contact details in the e-shot.
Instead, the correct approach is to call and ask the target business for their permission to email them.
Even the USA has many surprisingly different business practices. Here the red tape of bureaucracy looms large and may cause your export drive to crash to a standstill. Take the question of labelling, seemingly quite innocent. However, insufficient product details concerning country of origin, weight, even a slight misspelling can cause the goods to be flatly rejected at the border without hesitation.
As regards the EU itself, a time-consuming problem once customers are buying comes in the form of VAT-charging. Particularly in the case of export sales of all kinds of apps, software and e-books downloaded digitally from UK platforms to individuals in the EU. Here, as the seller, you must levy the tax according to where the buyer is, rather than at the same rate as the UK. Further, when it comes to your company collating the details for your regular accounting periods, you are required to provide evidence of where your customers are.
In short, time spent conducting full and thorough research of your export market will reap dividends as there are otherwise always banana skins waiting to trip you up.