The market for your business’s products is genuinely global. Retailers worldwide are constantly searching for new products to offer consumers – and consumers are more interested in trying new products than ever before. Moreover, the growth of e-commerce and online trading via platforms such as RangeMe, makes it easier to sell your products to new retail buyers and customers than in the past; the only limit is your ambition.
The key to a successful international expansion is good planning. Selling into a new market for the first time can be daunting, but if you have a business plan for executing your ambition, you won’t simply be making a leap of faith; rather, you’ll be following a carefully crafted strategy that fits your brand. So if you’re targeting international success in 2022, here’s a six-step plan for making it happen.
1. Prepare the foundation of your growth plans
International expansion must be built on a solid foundation – is your business ready for what lies ahead? Does it possess the skills, the experience, and the operating structure to pursue international opportunities? If there are gaps, close them now, rather than risk getting caught out later. That might mean training for a sales team lacking international experience. Or it might mean reorganising the business so that it is set up in the right way to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. It might even mean recruiting new people into the business.
2. Identify the most attractive growth opportunities
Your business only has so much capacity to target new markets overseas, so it makes sense to spend time identifying which markets offer the greatest opportunity. That means understanding the potential demand for your products in a given market, but also thinking about the competition you will face; bigger markets may seem more attractive, but other suppliers in your product category will have seen that too. And don’t overlook practical issues – for example, if you’re selling perishable goods with a limited shelf life, shipping to markets closer to home may make more sense.
3. Focus on market access
Once you’ve identified a particular market, how will you break into it? RangeMe’s platform can certainly be a useful shortcut, enabling you to put your products in front of relevant buyers in your category. Those buyers then serve as your partners in the marketplace, helping confirm that the demand for your product or service identified during your market research process genuinely exists. There are other ways to build buzz around your products and engage with potential retail trade customers; trade shows and conferences, for example, give you a change to get in front of retail buyers – perhaps virtually, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Do your sums
By increasing trade overseas, you will increase your revenues, but sales have to be profitable for the venture to make sense. That means pricing your products carefully once you’ve understood the costs of selling in a new market. Your business will probably have a good idea of the unit cost of any given product, but you also need to consider export expenses. Those might include initial investments – in market research or new product design, say – as well as ongoing costs such as logistics, regulation and compliance, insurance, and the margin demanded by your new retail partners. Make sure you have a complete understanding of cost before agreeing on pricing terms.
5. Make a plan for getting goods to market
Clinching the deal in an overseas market is just the start: you will also need to work out the practicalities of delivery. This is partly a logistical challenge – how will you move the goods – and part regulatory, since there may be specific compliance and legal requirements that you are required to meet in a particular market. On logistics, it may be tempting to focus on finding the cheapest method of shipping your goods, but cost should not be your only consideration. Postal carriers, for example, are often more affordable, but they also tend to be slower and less flexible. On compliance, talk to shipping agents and your local partners about what is required.
6. Get your finances in place
Expanding overseas may require an investment that is difficult to fund from your business’s balance sheet – and there may be strains on your working capital, particularly in the early days when you’re waiting to get paid, or if you’re expanding your stock. In which case, you may need to take on additional funding to underpin your export strategy. Talk to your bank about export finance and trade finance tools such as letters of credit or bonds and guarantees. Make sure your business is ready for the financial strain of a new venture.