How does a department of imports and exports work? What areas should I reinforce in my company? What financial support can get for delving into an external adventure? Here are a few useful tips to successfully carry out your import and export strategy.
Whether you are thinking about turning your company into an importing or exporting business, or you have already done it, take note of these tips from the experts. Each of them is a piece of the foreign trade puzzle.
How do I know if my company is ready to export or import?
Let’s be practical. Does your company have a bilingual receptionist? Is your production line capable of responding to high demand peaks? Do have a commercial team that is able to face the new challenges -travel, irregular hours and so on? Do you have the financial capacity to make that leap abroad? Do you have a competitive product or service? As an importer, do you look for long lasting agreements? But even more important than evaluating these aspects is your commitment (as a manager, owner or majority shareholder) with the decision to internationalize the company, an obsession that must spread to other departments and personnel. This applies whether you decide to export or import products and services. It is important to consider the creation of a department of imports and exports (externalized or not), which reports directly to the company’s management, formed by people who are specialists in international trade, fluent in different languages and with negotiating skills in different markets.
Alone or accompanied?
In foreign trade there are three phases that determine the consolidation of the business project in the target market. The first one has to do with commercial sales operations abroad. Simply put, all you need is a commercial intermediary who collects the goods at the port and commercializes them. The second one is the cooperation with a local partner that takes care of the whole process, including consortia and joint ventures. The third is the productive implementation, a decision that not many SMEs ultimately make.
Although there are exceptions, when it comes to emerging markets or developing countries, it is recommended to start your adventures abroad with company. The work of a local partner will prepare the ground and will help you avoid surprises. With a distributor or sales agent you save logistics structure, offices, staff and transport. Remember that, at the beginning, managing costs carefully is a priority.
Include visits to fairs in your schedule
Either as an exhibitor or as a visitor, these will allow you to get to know market conditions and make contacts with potential partners and suppliers. You must choose well, though. Focus on sectoral and professionalized ones. It is a task that requires a lot of dedication at first. To those fair visits you should add prospecting trips and trade missions, organized by the chamber of commerce.
How to choose partner
The right choice of a partner or supplier is a key factor in the process that you have started. Fairs are an excellent showcase for contacting them, but distrust anyone who wants to close a deal on the spot. Before initialing anything, seek information about that partner or potential supplier: company size, production, talk to companies who have worked with them, their financial solvency (in the case of a partner) and compliance with deadlines (if they’re suppliers). Having made the decision, it is essential that a relationship of trust and knowledge is created, both mutual and of the product or service offered, as well as the market. For the partnership to strengthen the company, making it more competitive, it is crucial that the chosen partner has a solid network of contacts and is able to expand it, as well as financial stability.
The dilemma of the payment methods
Which to choose? The choice depends on the country, volume and trust in the customer. For casual and low-volume orders, it’s better to use bank transfers or money orders; it can be simple or documentary, depending on whether the recipient requires proof of purchase or not. Bank fees are assumed by each party. If you fully trust your client, do not hesitate: international bank checks are the most simple, economical and safe payment method.
I need to translate the manual of my product, its patent, the packaging…
You have several options: hire the services of a translation agency (physical or online) or a freelance translator. Rates vary depending on the type of translation (technical or not), the combination of languages, the number of characters or documents to be translated and the urgency with which you’ll need them. Many translators, and especially the agencies, will ask for a minimum order (documents of 300 words or more, for instance). In cases of technical translations (patents, contracts and operation manuals), the translator may also request a glossary of terms specific to your business activity. Do not forget to request several budgets, contrast them, and remember that higher quality, as everything, costs more.