Getting your international trade back on track

Posted: Tuesday 9th June

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on all businesses large and small and across multiple sectors.

Global travel restrictions and a constricting economy has made trading extremely difficult and may have forced many businesses to shelve any plans they had to try and grow overseas.

However, as the world begins moving once again and steps are slowly taken to resume trading, now is the time to start planning and reviewing your international sales.

Post-lockdown, we’re entering a fragile and unknown economic landscape with the real impact of the coronavirus pandemic yet to be realised. This will come later in the year or next.

Plans for any kind of global trading should therefore reflect this. Here’s our top ten tips for getting your international trade back on track:

1) Undertake a review of international markets. Take a look at where you were previously operating and work out if demand for your products is still high. If you’re new to exporting, it’s worth exploring what markets are recovering more quickly than others.

2) Make sure you keep communicating with your overseas customers and distributors even if they are currently not buying from you. Keeping an open dialogue will hopefully ensure that they come back and buy from you once the economy picks up.

3) As well as engaging with your existing customers, try to reach out to new ones and start building new relationships.

4) Use this period of transition to make sure you are up to speed on any new legislation and exporting rules which may prove to be a barrier to exporting as and when the time comes.

5) Build some new intelligence by researching what markets in which countries are likely to recover the quickest so that you can begin targeting your products to customers in these regions.

6) Once you’ve fathomed which markets are likely to bounce back the quickest adjust your marketing strategy and messaging so that it’s appropriate to your target audience. This might involve new marketing materials, technical data translations or even a new internationalised website.

7) Take time to review your pricing and make sure any distributor agreements are up to date.

8) Review your product offering and if certain products are more in demand than others, consider switching focus and concentrating on really pushing these to market.

9) Adapt and develop new skills where possible. This might involve staff learning a new language to deal with customers in newly identified target markets or expanding marketing skills.

10) Review resources and capabilities. Balancing orders against productivity is always tricky so make sure you have enough resources to fulfil a large order should one come your way as a result of growing your international sales. In the current situation if you’ve made staff redundant or have staff still on furlough, make sure you have a plan in place for managing your workforce.

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