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Top tips for exports

Taylor, the UK’s largest manufacturer of four-wheeled galvanised steel bins, officially launched its export programme this year. Trade and investment minister Lord Green visited the company’s 20-acre manufacturing site in Worcester for the launch.

With more than an 80% share of the UK market, the company believes that export success is the key to its continued expansion. Taylor has secured orders in Africa, south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Dos and don’ts: Williams’ guide to making a success of exporting

DO:

Be proud of your British credentials

The UK is broadly viewed as a high-quality source of manufactured products and commands a premium on the world stage. When looking to work in overseas markets, make the most of your domestic heritage.

Get support from the UKTI

UK Trade & Investment offers superb support to small and medium-sized businesses. It provides overseas market information and can also help with introductions.

Know your products’ strengths and weaknesses, and always consider their performance in new markets

We invested in test equipment, which enabled us to simulate the extreme climatic conditions our products would be exposed to. Poor-performing products seldom get a second chance in new markets and this can damage a brand.

Pick your target markets and time entry appropriately

Just as some markets are too small, some markets are too large. For a firm to move into a BRIC economy, it would almost certainly need to set up a joint venture or wholly owned operation in the territory. During early-stage export growth, such a move would be a risk and drain resources.

Make the most of your online presence

Taylor has developed its website from a UK-centric portal to a multi-lingual site that can offer help, advice and commerce to a much larger audience. Our site currently supports Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese.

Use letters of credit to ensure payment

In some cases, it may be necessary to request cleared funds before shipment, particularly with new customers.

Try to ensure contracts fall under the jurisdiction of UK courts

In the event of litigation, this is highly advantageous to UK companies.

Be prepared to follow gut instinct

Results are often achieved from market opportunities that were opportunistic rather than the result of exhaustive research.

DON’T:

Underestimate transport costs

In 2007, our core 1,100-litre product could be shipped in batches of 84 using a 40in- high cube sea container, which almost made exporting non-viable. With minor design changes, we were able to re-tool a container that can now be shipped in batches of 147 in the same size container - a 75% improvement.

Expect immediate success

Companies that want to succeed overseas need to be in it for the long haul. Building a brand overseas takes time, belief and, sometimes, blind faith.

Overlook the basics

Desktop analysis can filter and identify markets that best fit your products’ and services’ unique selling points.

Forget that some cultures are very different from ours

During our first large export sale to a Middle Eastern country, we foolishly timed the arrival of our products during Ramadan. From a business point of view, this was not wise. Our product was

stuck at the dock accruing demurrage charges during the festival and engineers were unable to work. Similarly, relationships matter, particularly when dealing with different cultures. Take time to learn greetings and always be courteous to your customer.

Overlook import tariffs

These can effectively lock out your products.

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