Having a plan is important in all areas of business, but it may be even more important when selling products on an international basis. Conducting international business is complex, and you need to properly plan in order to maximize global success.
Creating a plan for each of the following eight topics is essential for success overseas, and the combination of these plans becomes the overall international business plan. The International Business Council has prepared reports on each of these topics to provide members with an in-depth resource to assist in understanding these complex factors.
The business plan starts with a thorough understanding of the products that you have available for sale and what modifications may be necessary to maximize sales within an individual market. See Understanding Product Selection.
It is also extremely important to select appropriate markets in order to focus efforts where they are most likely to yield success. Our best advice? To start, pick three countries that represent your best three opportunities. Learn more from Understanding Market Selection.
Once you’ve determine the products you have available for sale and have selected the markets on which you plan to focus your efforts, you should also consider how you plan to sell into the market. Do you plan to go it alone and sell direct to retailers, or do you need a distributor or sales representative to provide local expertise and assistance? Learn about your options from Understanding Sales Channels.
You must also consider how you plan to move your products from your factory or warehouse into the market and the needs that may exist on one side of the ocean or another. See Understanding Supply Chains to learn more about shipping and warehousing options.
So exactly how do you go about finding customers? Thankfully, the home and housewares industry has numerous resources to help you with this incredibly important task. You can access trade organizations, trade shows and trade events throughout the year and promote your brand through international trade publications. To see specific options available, read Understanding International Marketing.
Pricing Strategies & Exchange Rates
In order to complete the sale, you need to properly price your products, which means you need to fully understand your international sales costs and how exchange rate fluctuations may affect your bottom line. Review the Understanding Pricing Strategies and Understanding Exchange Rates blog posts for a detailed review of the many factors that need to be considered when setting your sales price.
Before sending that first order, make sure that you understand INCO terms and how they affect international shipments. Also, have a good understanding of the many export documents that need to be completed, and how a freight forwarder can ease this burden. Learn more from Understanding Export Mechanics.
It is critically important that you understand the many different rules and regulations that pertain to the sale of your products on a global basis. Product Compliance deals with the physical materials used in a product’s production as well as with the required packaging and labeling. Shipping Compliance deals with products that may have some dangerous element such as aerosols and chemicals. Customer Compliance deals with government-imposed sanctions. A blog post outlining these rules and regulations will be posted on the IBC blog in the coming weeks.
Whether you are new to export or a seasoned veteran, it is important to have an International Business Plan in order to maximize your success in foreign markets. Although your specific business plan may have more detail, it is essential to include the fore mentioned topics.
Once your international business plan has been developed, it is important to share that plan with your colleagues in order to get corporate buy-in on your activities. It is very important that personnel from the following departments understand how and why you plan to engage with international customers – after all, business in a team effort!
- Senior Management
- Category Management
- International Sales Team & Representatives
- Order Department
- Credit Department
- Export Logistics
- Warehousing & Distribution
Senior Manager, International Trade Development
International Housewares Association
Vice President, International
International Housewares Association