The key to successful exporting in this post pandemic era is to take steps to understand and mitigate risk. That opens the door for opportunity - which increases sales, margins, and sustainable export practices.
American-made products and foreign-made products that are distributed from the US continue to offer a significant door-opener for increased business development and export sales in foreign markets.
During the pandemic of the past three years exports from the US faced many challenges. These challenges manifested themselves in:
Limited access for outbound freight
Huge increases in trucking, ocean, air, and drayage costs
Limited access to required equipment, such as but not limited to chassis’, containers, trucks, drivers, etc.
Procurement, Customer Service and Business Development efforts were continually stymied.
These challenges created risks that had to be managed successfully. In order to obtain favorable results now, we must create strategies, best practices and a culture in our export sales that continually offers added value, differentiation and the exercise of due diligence. There are five critical steps to accomplish Best Practices in Exporting that we recommend to US- based companies:
1. Marketing is a critical first step
First make sure your product has marketability overseas. Determine which markets offer your best prospects, followed by factoring in differentiation, supply chain and pricing assessments.
Select those markets where you were able to find customers prior to the pandemic - retailers and distributors who value your product, customer service and pricing structure. You need to be:
Patient in this process
Diligent in vetting
Cautiously accepting small amounts of risk
Most companies we have worked with selling various products overseas who apply a carefully strategized marketing approach will significantly increase their odds of export sales.
2. Pay attention to the details
Now more than ever when exporting you need to pay attention to numerous areas such as but not limited to: documentation, INCOTERMS, regulations (both export & import), packing, marking and labeling issues. You'll need to dot the “I’s” and cross the “T’s” on all matters within the export process. When problems occur, their consequences can be significant and costly. It is a much better idea to be detail-oriented to proactively avoid problems and increase the opportunity for successful exports. INCOTERMS play a critical role in both import and export trade as they define a point in time and trade where responsibility and cost transfer between the seller and the buyer.
3. Align with a quality service provider
Select a freight forwarder that can support the shipping of your product overseas in an extension of your sustainable supply chain and customer service capabilities. Delivering freight on time, in sound condition and cost-effectively is an extremely important aspect of export sales in this day and age.
Blue Tiger International, the export consultant for numerous exporters and associations, maintains a dossier of service providers/freight forwarders and can be an excellent referral source for exporters.
4. Develop robust resources
Exporting successfully requires access to numerous support services and resources.
The US Commercial Service is an excellent resource for a number of reasons:
Access to export assistance officers.
Access to country desk officers in Washington DC and in major cities in most of our trading partners.
Assistance in developing your export markets.
Its website (www.export.gov) has a plethora of information on every aspect of exporting and foreign business development.
5. Pay attention to potential trade compliance issues.
Exporters need to pay attention to export regulations to comply responsibly and to avoid delays, fines and potential financial consequences.
Areas such as but not limited to:
Schedule B Classification (HTSUS)
Denied Parties Checking
Unauthorized Export Sales
All of these areas need to be managed diligently and with reasonable care.
In certain areas of the world, specific companies, individuals and products are subject to significant restrictions that limit or forbid export sales. You must have procedures and resources in place to prevent these types of export sales from occurring. Additionally, some exports may require permission to export in the form of export licenses.
The Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury all have regulations governing export activity, along with a host of other government agencies such as but not limited to: USDA, FDA, CDC, ATF, DOE and more.
We also recommend that all exporters as well as importers consider joining the CBP program – CTPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) - that will raise the level of your compliance and security profile to the government and be an excellent “Best Practice.”
Exporting when done correctly in this post pandemic era can be a lucrative ingredient to any business model. Developing resources and skill sets are necessary to do it right.
Blue Tiger International stands ready to work with any and all of the companies associated with IBNewsmag.com, who seek assistance with their post pandemic export business model.
Thomas Cook. email@example.com, 516-359-6232. He is also a board member of the National DEC, New York DEC, and managing director of the National Institute for World Trade.