For export week, we thought we would discuss the four major considerations for SMEs regarding export. What's holding you back? Start now.
On the 9th of November begins Export Week. The UK & Trade Investment are hosting events all around the United Kingdom to promote exports, providing interactive seminars and one-on-one advice for SMEs looking to expand their business internationally. There are several events running throughout the week by UKTI and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and other events partnered with the week – including our own Masterclass for Global Growth on the 10th November. Exports can seem a little out of reach for businesses, a feat reserved for the big companies, but it isn’t. You could be doing it right now. It is not as complicated as you believe, especially considering your ability to reach global markets without physically setting up an office out there. Market Research Perhaps an obvious statement, but it is worth repeating. Before entering a market or if you are already there, further your research. It could be as simple as seeing where the demand is coming from on your website through simple analytics research or as intricate as identifying international competitors, product/service market gaps and/or acquiring a similar company already established in the market. Identify what market(s) you want to cater to and then be sure that what you are providing is needed. Common knowledge, yes, but it is worth hammering this home before embarking on a fruitless expedition. In your market research, be sure to look into regulations and laws as a part of your market research too. Would you be able to provide your product or service or would they need adaption? What about your marketing strategy? America has strict laws in regards to data acquisition to prevent companies exploiting spam and cold-calling options. Be sure that your business aligns itself with each country’s regulations to assess their cost-effectiveness. For more, read our Q&A on The Guardian around this topic. International Pricing This is quite simple, but what people forget to think about logistically is their international returns policy. If you plan on keeping your headquarters/warehouse at its birth place, be sure to look into the logistics of hauling your product abroad but – more importantly – if you want to keep customers, especially those experiencing a problem or fault in their product, consider the cost of returns. Not only the cost of paying for it to be sent back, that’s an afterthought of a case that has already begun, look into the success rate of your product and really scrutinise its quality, durability and test how it travels. If you can work out a rough percentage of your product developing a problem warranting a return, you can start to estimate the cost of returns to nip it in the bud. If it looks problematic, either look into ways to reduce the risk of needing a return or look for the best logistical option. Private couriers, if you agree to use them exclusively, could help you save money. More than pricing, you need to think about the laws of each country. What are the taxes? Are you exempt? Do you include it in the price? Exclude it? Should you increase or decrease your price by the market? Not all countries have a similar pricing structure as you might have experienced on your travels. Convert wisely to ensure that you are competitive but still maintain a good profit margin. Translate Your Website Although the simple enough idea in principle, running your website through a free translation tool is guaranteed to cause issues. From fractured grammar to incorrect words, your website – and indeed your brand – will suffer consequences of such an incorrect translation. Plus, there’s more to it than meets the eye. What is recommended by search engines like Google is if you get a domain for the local country (.de, .it, .ae and so on), a local server to host the site for the IP address and then you do SEO research of the local area to implement as a part of your marketing strategy. One thing that is entirely up to the customer is translating your brand name. It may not always be necessary, but certain brand names don’t translate well, have the potential to offend or perhaps be completely unremarkable. Instead of a direct translation, there are a mixture of services that you require. You want to transcreate so that your marketing copy keep its impact; you want to localise (as suggested above) to avoid causing offence to their culture; and you want to utilise a multilingual SEO strategy to ensure that all your work is rewarded as best possible by search engines. If you feel like all this is too much, they all fall into the website translation category and are typically competitively priced – by ourselves especially. Do you feel like you need more convincing? 72.1% of all consumers say they spend most or all of their time in websites in their native language. Can you afford to lose out on them? Further than that, 56.2% of consumers say access to information in their own language is more important than price. Customer Expectations Each nation has its own culture and with that comes its own business and consumer culture. Each nation expects different things. Speedy replies to customer service questions can be the norm – minutes or hours, not days or weeks. When it comes to shipping or delivery of a product, in the UK we look to expect things in a day or two – especially when forking out the extra for delivery. In other countries, they may be more patient but unwilling to accept the charges for delivery. This falls under market research, but it is important to know what your customer, client or business partner expects from you. If you make a basic error, they may not take you seriously and leave you for another supplier who understands their culture, needs and expectations. Export may have felt out of reach but all it requires is an understanding of a country’s culture more than anything else. Ecommerce is the most expansive nature of trading worldwide and expected to reach £1.53tn in the next couple of years. Can you afford to not be in that market? Start actualising your global potential now by putting the wheels into motion by using our professional translation services.
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