Planning for international trade post-pandemic

Posted: Monday 13th July

The current coronavirus pandemic has proven to be an enormous challenge for businesses large and small. A recent survey conducted by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership demonstrates this with 98 per cent of businesses surveyed in Shropshire,  Herefordshire and Telford & Wrekin saying they have been affected in some way shape or form by the outbreak. 

More alarmingly, 44 per cent of firms claimed they suffered a complete loss of sales during the two to three months during lockdown. 

With this in mind you may well have shelved any plans for expanding your business to include international markets but with lockdown measures easing, now is the time to start looking to the future and getting plans back on track. 

Doing your research now and preparing will enable you to strike when the global economy begins to show signs of recovery. 

If you are new to export, there’s no doubt about it, it can be difficult to know whether your business is ready for the next step. There are lots of different things to take into consideration but hopefully the following advice will give you a good starting point: 

Are you ready? 

This is the biggest question of all but the simplest way to know whether you’re ready to sell your products internationally is by assessing your success rate here in the UK. If your business has a good track record, is showing signs of increased UK sales and growth and you have built up good relations with existing customers, the answer is most likely ‘yes’, you’re ready to start exporting your products. If things have slowed down since the coronavirus pandemic, it’s worth considering your answer to this question in relation to pre-pandemic performance.  

Is there a global demand for your company’s products or services? 

You might have already received enquiries for your products from outside of the UK in which case you will know if some demand exists. If you haven’t, it’s important to do your research. It’s always good to see if UK competitors are exporting and where to. It might be that they already have some locations covered and so you might want to establish your new markets somewhere different. Given the current situation and contractions in the global economy it would be wise to have an eye on the markets which are recovering more quickly so that when you’re ready to go global, you know which markets to target first. 

Do you have enough resources? 

Before expanding your trade to new markets, it’s important to assess whether your business has both the financial capabilities for market development and also the physical resources to cope with any extra product demand and increased sales. Opening up new markets could, all of a sudden, result in lots of big new orders. Make sure your business has the capacity to employ extra staff if the operational need arises. In the current situation this may prove to be one of the biggest obstacles for many businesses. If you have had to furlough staff or make people redundant as business slowed in recent weeks, balancing orders with resources may be more difficult. 

Do you know enough about the country or region you are exporting to? 

Having some knowledge of standard trading practices within the country/countries you are wanting to export to can help mitigate against some of the risks of exporting. Making sure you have some protection against late payments and export invoices is critical. It’s also important to remember that fluctuating exchange rates can impact on your business profit margins and multi-currency bank accounts can help you manage these finances a little better. Researching and gaining an understanding of how the pandemic has affected individual countries and their local economy would also be prudent at this time. 

Working with a freight forwarder 

If after all the groundwork you make the decision to take your business international, working with a trusted freight forwarder like ourselves can simplify and streamline the process. 

Our knowledge of international markets means we can advise you on the best methods of shipment for your goods, help you navigate customs procedures and other regulations and in many ways become an extension of your business. 

We’ve worked with hundreds of businesses over the last 20 years helping them to achieve their export goals and we can provide free, expert advice to help you and your business get exporting in 2020. 

Do get in touch by either emailing or calling 01952 270 699. 

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