Succeeding in foreign markets requires a well-researched game plan—one that anticipates roadblocks and avoids frequently encountered issues. “It takes far more time to extract yourself from problems created by lack of planning than it would to do it right the first time,” notes John E. Cleek, program director at the Bloch School of Business Administration at the University of Missouri.
With that in mind, this checklist can help you minimize risk, and realize the potentially significant rewards of expanding into foreign markets.
1. Do your homework. Before you ship to an overseas market, do your due diligence: Estimate demand for your product; research how it should be packaged to appeal to new customers; familiarize yourself with local business customs. Export.gov is a good resource to help you figure this out. The site provides trusted market intelligence, practical advice, and business tools for companies expanding into global markets.
2. Craft your go-to-market strategy: You need a thorough go-to-market strategy supported by a supply chain plan—and you need it tailored to the business landscapes in your target countries. To form your strategy, research and advisory firm, Gartner offers recommendations, including developing an optimized channel strategy that balances digital and traditional channels; effective use of channel partners; and basing marketing plans on budget realities and data. Meanwhile, expert third-party logistics providers (3PLs), such as UPS, can help you make determinations, such as how and where to best stage inventory for regional and international markets, along with choosing the most cost-effective transportation modes for your needs. High-tech companies can also take advantage of existing UPS infrastructure in these countries, especially while the new market is being tested, saving capital expenditure.
3. Secure your intellectual property: Intellectual property and brand protection are critical because companies can’t always control the distribution channel. Digital tools—such as the Online Intellectual Property Training Module at StopFakes.gov—can get you started, providing guides to copyrights, patents, and trademarks, as well as the legal protections for each.
4. Make decisions based on better data: Tools such as UPS Flex® Global View and Quantum View® Manage offer holistic views of your supply chain, and notifies you proactively in case of delays. This gives you the ability to monitor critical milestones, while giving you a comprehensive picture of your inventory’s location. So, rather than spending time aggregating data, you can focus on the business.
5. Opt for speed and efficiency: A fast, on-time international shipment is required to keep customers satisfied. But let’s say a high-tech product launch is at risk for delay.
Or a new product is more successful than anticipated, and local inventory is running low. In such cases, you can let an expert logistics partner ease the load. Case in point: When mophie, a U.S.-based smartphone battery-pack producer, experienced an unexpected surge in demand, its system of shipping direct from suppliers in China to retailers became cumbersome. Utilizing UPS World Ease®, a service that consolidates multiple shipments into single ones, the company turned 10,000 shipments into 10 pallets, which then could fly to the United States via speedy UPS Worldwide Express Freight™.
6. Get help with customs: Not only do shipping rules and regulations often differ by country, they also change frequently. High-tech companies can sidestep potential problems by engaging a 3PL with customs brokerage and trade management expertise to take on your paperwork, and help navigate local regulations. With “boots on the ground” locally, UPS trade management services can help ensure that you’re in compliance with local regulations, and that your products are classified correctly. And Customs Brokerage provided by UPS allows you to handle both transportation and import clearance with just one 3PL.
Moving into a new market can be daunting. The rewards are there, though, for companies which can successfully “go global.” The good news: Resources to help you abound. Plus, choosing a logistics provider that’s also an experienced customs broker—with experience in navigating local complexities—can be the most important decision you make as you reach beyond your own borders.
Looking to do business overseas? Try these UPS services.