By Karen Reddington
President, Asia Pacific, FedEx Express
Global interconnectivity, new supply chains and technology have transformed today’s entrepreneurial landscape. Despite global economic uncertainty, the spirit of creativity and innovation are still driving the growth of companies in the APAC region – exports accounted for 68% of Asia Pacific SMEs’ total annual revenue of US$1.43 million (S$1.89m) in 2016.
Small businesses should take advantage of technological innovations to connect with new customers and look to grow on a global scale. There are so many opportunities out there, waiting to be seized.
However, the exporting journey may seem daunting at first. So, to help, we’ve compiled a list of 12 tips for successful international expansion.
1. Pick your markets
Different markets and consumers have different needs and preferences, online and off. Use the Internet to conduct some research into the markets you’re considering, and to evaluate the business opportunities out there. Develop a localized strategy and business plan that will drive local success while still keeping a strong brand image in your home market.
2.Use the Internet to your advantage
Once you’ve shortlisted your top target markets, use free online tools such as FedEx® Global Trade Manager to check specific export requirements and adjust your strategy accordingly.
3.Research is key
Check the commodity code for your goods to see what documents you will need. Depending on the country you’ve chosen to export to, there may also be customs duties to bear in mind. Do your research ahead of branching out into new markets – it will pay dividends in the long run.
4.Work out how you will ship your products
From shipping a customer’s first purchase to securing repeat business, prompt and reliable delivery around the clock is crucial in gaining your customers’ trust. Using a globally established logistics provider will not only make sure products are delivered quickly and efficiently, but it will also ensure any specific requirements in your destination countries are met.
5.Weigh your shipping correctly
Whether you’re using domestic or international services, it’s important to calculate the correct billable weight. If you’re having difficulty working out the dimensional or actual weight of your package, the FedEx Service Guide provides a step-by-step run through.
6.Choose the right service for your business
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to your shipping strategy, but there are features you can introduce that will make everyone happy, e.g. fast shipping options. FedEx International Priority® and FedEx International Priority® Freight options provide rapid next day delivery. If you need a delivery shipped overnight, make sure you consider overnight options such as FedEx International First®.
7.Prepare your international orders with care
Ensure you have all the relevant documents you need before shipping your international orders. For example, commercial invoices, packing lists, shipping notes, a Certificate of Shipment, any certificates of origin or commercial licenses all need to be current and present. Consider services such as FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents to help you process all documents electronically, saving you both time and money.
8.Pack your shipments correctly
Your transportation provider may be able to advise you how to package your goods correctly, or even provide you with their own range of ready-to-use, self-sealing packaging in a choice of shapes and sizes.
Now that your shipment is on its way, it’s only natural to want to know where it is at all times. Using a tracking tool will help you keep tabs on it during every step of the journey. The FedEx® Tracking tool enables you to nickname your package, create a personal watch list or filter your shipments to see the details you want, both on your desktop and on your mobile.
Knowing where to get quick answers to your questions can save time and ensure peace of mind. Use free online resources to learn more and do not be afraid to ask your transportation provider any questions you may have. At FedEx, each business is assigned a designated FedEx Account Executive, who is fully on hand to provide guidance and insight every step of the way.
11.Go above and beyond
In some circumstances, your customer’s shipment may require extraordinary care, for example additional security, temperature control or compliance documentation. Consider industry-specific solutions if this is the case to ensure shipments arrive in the best possible condition.
12.Grow your international presence
If you think international shipping to countries even further afield could be the next big step for you in growing your business, make sure you’re fully prepared to go global by taking advantage of free online resources, in-depth information, instructions and checklists available online. In today’s connected world, achieving success may be much easier than you think!