How to start exporting a product

First develop a product, or even better, a range of products. A well-designed product should meet the following three conditions:

  • Good design
  • Attractive packaging
  • Certification (product and packaging materials)

The globalisation of markets means that they are now more open than ever before, offering many possibilities for businesses to expand into them. Of course, entry into a global market presents opportunities but also risks and must be carefully studied and not treated opportunistically.

The advantages and opportunities that a business gains by exporting its products might include:

  • Economies of scale
  • Increased sales
  • Increased profits
  • Less dependence on the domestic market
  • Acquisition of know-how
  • Strengthening the position of the product in the domestic market

However, apart from the opportunities that a business has to grow and expand, there are often challenges and dangers that also must be anticipated and addressed. These might include:

  • Higher production or operating costs
  • Alterations to the management of the business
  • Competition
  • Long-term return on the investment
  • Bureaucratic procedures

When starting, the entrepreneur should know and take into consideration:

  • The product’s competitiveness
  • The business’s workforce
  • The business’s financing
  • Expectations and goals

To research the position of the product in foreign markets, the entrepreneur must take into consideration factors such as:

  1. The probable target customers
  2. The characteristics of the product itself
  3. The business’s production capacity

How to adapt a product for export

In many cases, the decision to export means modifying the product. Many methods exist for examining how suitable a product is for export, from simple, fast and inexpensive techniques to complex, costly and time-consuming procedures.

It is a matter for exporters themselves, in consultation with their representatives or the distributors of the product, to choose the scale, technique and duration of the research to be carried out in each case.

A research plan might involve:

1. The study and recording of competing products

  1. Technical features: raw materials, form of product, variety, type, sizes, marks, colours, modifications, improvements, durability
  2. Quality assessment: strength, capability, performance, appearance, suitability and ease of handling
  3. Legal protection: design (form of product, patent, approval)

2. Packaging/Presentation

  1. Technical features: design, shape, construction materials, tolerance of climate conditions, ease and stability during loading and unloading, handling, storage and display, adaptable to official rules and regulations.
  2. Attractiveness: size, shape, suitable colour, quality seal and label design.
  3. Elements of identity: shape, colour, trademark label
  4. Information: product description, composition of contents, instructions
  5. Services provided: the type of services provided by competing products - delivery, installation, preparation, main parts and accessories, training for use, repairs, reciprocal goods.

3. Competitive Prices

  1. Retail prices: basic price list – usual selling prices – taxes (VAT, social or municipal) – discounts (for quantity or payment in cash) – payment method (cash, credit, instalments) – discounts for damaged goods – variety of products, market sectors and type of sale (points of sale and shops).
  2. Wholesale prices: different prices – discounts – terms of payment – special discounts for wholesalers and retailers depending on products, sectors, size of order, type of merchants.

4. Product acceptance

Exporters must introduce their products to potential importers and discuss with them how similar products are sold and distributed. This will give them a first indication and they will be able to make additions or changes to their products where necessary. The next step should be to present the product to a group of wholesalers and retailers to obtain their opinion and continue making decisions.

They can also get information directly from consumers. At the same time, they should think about:

  1. the preferred size and dimensions of the product
  2. the type of outer shell it should be packaged in
  3. how it should be packaged to ensure ease of handling in the warehouse
  4. how the packaging can facilitate refrigeration if required
  5. the issue of selling price and ease of commensurate benefits
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