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Let the Games begin!

How logistics can support local businesses during international events

By Martin Davidian, Managing Director Sales UK & Ireland, FedEx Express

Every year, cities across the UK host world-class sporting and cultural events which bring new customers to local businesses in the area. Companies which have always been local in nature suddenly have a chance to shine on the world stage with their town or city becoming a ‘shop window to the world’. Whilst the event is in town, businesses flourish, but what happens after the event is over? How can companies build on these opportunities to make their new-found international profile not just temporary, but permanent?

That is where logistics providers can step in. Once a business realises there is a global appetite for its products, the first question it will ask is: “Where to begin?” This is why it is so important for their logistics provider to be on hand, not just in terms of getting the products from A to B, but as trusted and knowledgeable advisors to offer solutions, every step of the way.

The question is: how can we, as logistics experts, help businesses get ahead of the pack when it comes to exporting. Here are some of the frequent conversations we have with our customers when helping them to tap into international opportunities.

 

1) There is no such thing as over-planning

If your product is as good as we know it is, once it is stocked abroad, demand for it could take off extremely quickly. Make sure your business is prepared for a potential avalanche of orders and that the UK side of the business will not be overwhelmed.

 

2) Get support with customs regulations

Yes they can be challenging, and yes they differ from country to country but with the right support and advice, your shipments will sail through customs. Whilst it is good idea to learn the basics, you do not need to be an expert, as that is what your logistics provider is for.

 

3) The world is your oyster

The world is more connected than it has ever been and new markets are emerging all the time. With an open mind, you might be surprised by the locations where your product has an audience. A good logistics provider will be able to offer insight and guidance as to where your product might be the ‘next big thing’.

 

4) Shout about your British-ness

British brands are admired the world over thanks to our distinctive heritage and history. If you have not done so already, consider incorporating elements of “British-ness” into your packaging and brand strategy to reap the rewards.

 

5) Get out there

If you can, then try to visit the markets where you want to expand in terms of giving you the view from the ground. There is no substitute for this! Researching the competition, meeting potential buyers and getting to know the locals are invaluable to making your expansion a success.

 

6) Go digital      

Make sure your website is up-to-scratch and consider including a foreign-language function. If you’re going to have customers from Poland to Peru, you will need to accommodate their needs in the same way you do for those in the UK.

 

7) Know Your Consumer Laws

There is a legal framework that protects international customers through the import-export process. The International Chamber of Commerce offers a Model International Sale Contract to save time and cut risks when buying and selling manufactured goods and provides clear directions to sellers and buyers, which is something all businesses need to be aware of.

With the UK government setting a £1tn exporting target for UK businesses by 2020[1], the opportunities are vast for UK businesses. These are just some of the conversations we have had with our SME customers which reinforce how important it is to be not just a logistics provider but a trusted expert who provides solutions.

 

[1] The Guardian, January 2014

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