ExportPro Inc.

Articles & Newsletters

Newsletters, some sample concentrates of information from the book: Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace, ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0


Many companies are reluctant to export because of all the hurdles they feel they have to overcome.  Others, while trying, do not succeed because they don't understand the different cultures and their unique ways of doing business.

Success is to 80% a mental attitude and to 20% a matter of skills and the right products.

It's imperative for you to realize that you are the foreigner. When you do business with another country, you're the one who needs to adapt to new customs, tastes, cultures, management philosophies and ways of doing business. The day you understand and adapt to your new market, you will succeed. If you try to do business the same way as at home, using the same techniques, the same arguments, the same price lists, etc., you will fail. Ultimately, all business is local!

When you understand the local culture, the local way of doing business and adapt to this, you've achieved more than 80% of the prerequisites for being successful in that market.

In our book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0 we've identified five keys for your success in the export field.

Of these, communication and the importance of relationships certainly play a primary role in your success.

To work in a global  market means, among other things, adaptation to  environments,  time zones, management philosophies, currencies,  methods of payment and ethics, climate, language, religions and, often, altogether different business terms and  values.
You have to take these keys into consideration when doing business abroad. They apply not only to you as an individual but to all your staff, whether it's the receptionist, the person packing the goods, design staff or the finance department. They will be affected by the export policies you put in place. Their attitudes ad competence can also influence your success. Make sure to involve them all.

Leif Holmvall
Export Pro Inc. Canada, www.exportpro.com


What does this have to do with exporting and international business?
When you play the stock market, it's essential to:

  1. Spread the risks
  2. Keep  informed

The same is also true in business. To put all your eggs in one basket (market) is dangerous. If the market collapses or experiences poor performance, your business will be in trouble.  Many companies only work on the domestic market and feel that that's enough. However, that local market may develop slowly or be saturated with established companies, competitors and suppliers.

What happens when the service life of your products or product life cycle is getting shorter? You need to grow.  You have to find new markets to survive and remain profitable.

Business today is global. When you're looking to expand, you have to look overseas. Remember, foreign companies are also looking for growth, and they are aiming at your domestic market and maybe even yours in particular.

To increase your sales at home, you have to take market share from the competition, especially if the market has already matured. To get the same sales from a market 10 times your domestic size, you only need a small portion. Furthermore, that market could be developing quickly.

By expanding to a number of markets, spread the risks. If business in one country doesn't work out as well as expected, the overall effect will be minor.
Assume you're working in 10 markets and each carries 10% of your sales. If one of those decreases by 30%, you only lose 3% of your total sales. If one drops out completely, you're still only talking about 10%.
As with your stocks, you want to keep updated. Which are the interesting stocks, and what are the expected developments of those companies. For your international business, you also have to keep yourself informed. Which markets are of interest, which economies are developing and what are your competitors doing?

There's an enormous amount of information available. The question is how to find what is appropriate. One way is to use commercial online databases. You can read more about this in our book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0
Use the international market for business growth and for spreading your risks. It takes time to enter new markets but you need to do it now!! When your domestic market begins to slow down it may already be too late to look for new alternatives.
Don't let the fear of international business stop you. Education and understanding of the global marketplace will help you overcome these obstacles.

Most countries welcome new products and new technologies. However, they are too often turned off by what's often perceived as an arrogant disregard for their values and ways. Learn as much as you can about your new market, the culture, language, business, practices etc,
Still hesitating?  You want to go out there but don't even know where to begin?  Read our book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0. A good international trade consultant can be of immense benefit. Their services range from advice about the next step to actually doing it all with you.

There are many international business options. Identify where you want to go, know what you want to achieve. Do your homework and then, go for it. The global market is full of opportunities. Don't miss yours!

Leif Holmvall

Export Pro Inc. Canada, www.exportpro.com


For those who want to fail in their exporting activities

  1. Leave everything unplanned or base your decision on getting a free trip abroad, wanting to get rid of excess inventory or that you read in the newspaper Poland is an interesting market. 
  2. Make sure the product is not tested at home so that your technical problems occur far away. Make sure the product is not adapted to your overseas country's laws and to clients’ preferences.
  3. Decide that export as an investment that will bring immediate profit, that it requires no commitments, and takes no time or money. You want your money back immediately, otherwise skip it.
  4. You don't want to, or feel that you need to change your organization. Those export activities can, without doubt, be taken care of by one of the local salesmen.
  5. Don't even bother learning their language. If they want to do business with you, they will have to learn yours. 
  6. Just tell your foreign representative, "This is the way we sell at home and those are the prices we use. That is the way you should sell too, furthermore, use your domestic price list, in your local currency. Don't even think of learning about the local customs and how they do business and make sure you don't listen to them.
  7. Select an export market based on what you read in the newspapers and what you hear from people whom you meet. What the market price is in the new country is of no interest to you.
  8. Topics like customs duties, distribution margins and discount is of no interest either if the distributor has to pay freight and make money that is his headache.

Good luck?
Leif Holmvall
Export Pro Inc. Canada, www.exportpro.com


The Mental Market Research when exporting.

Some samples from the book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0.

Get your mind into Market Research.  (Using a Mental Approach)

Selling on the international market scene requires a lot of information. Those who are best informed have the best likelihood of succeeding.  Even so, many companies still fail. How come? It is not only the facts that count. There is usually one significant ingredient missing.

When we begin, we collect a lot of information about the market including prices, competition and distributor margins. We find the right distributor. Despite this, things don’t work out as planned. We blame the distributor for not performing. When we ask why they aren’t meeting sales targets, they say that the prices and products are not right, even though we know this is not so. We don’t understand why our plans failed. We’ve done all our homework, haven’t we?

What is wrong?

We did not develop a “feel” for the market. Many companies rely on information and facts that other people have collected and they base their strategies on that information. They assume a lot but don’t “get to know” the market.

How do we solve this?

We need to develop an understanding of how the market works. We need to “touch”, “feel”, “taste” and “hear”. We have to get our mind to understand it is not like at home. The temperature is different, people dress differently and act differently and things look different. By reading a report you can not get that feeling, you have to go and visit to get the real feel for it.  So, if we plan to enter a market, before even collecting too much information, pay a trip to the country and get “the feeling” of the market. Start 6-12 months before the planned start-up and pay a number of visits to the end-users. This will give you a better feeling for the market and the way they do business there.  It will furthermore indicate if your product fits the market, what you need to adapt. You will also get information about competition, prices as well as suitable distributors. If you can coordinate your trip with an exhibition you can also walk around and “inhale” the feeling of how products are sold and exposed. Bring a camera so you can show your staff how the new market looks like, when you come home.

With all this as a base you can add the “facts” to decide on how to enter the market. In this case you have already made your intellectual and mind adjustment and will not fail in your efforts due to lack of understanding of the market. It firstly when the company can see the advantages it can decide where and how to enter the international market.

What is the difference between Market Information and Business Intelligence? Market information is data you collect from the market – consumer surveys, sales figures, etc. Business Intelligence is the collection and analysis of market information, so that a company can make informed business decisions and convert those decisions into action.  You collect and organize the data; you analyze and understand what it means to you. You create a strategy based on that.
Leif Holmvall
Copyright Export Pro Inc.  Canada

E-commerce and international business.
What does e-commerce have to do with international business?
This is a sample from our book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0


E-Commerce or E-Business is a process of buying and selling on-line, i.e. over electronic systems like Internet or other computer networks.
Most of us have heard about Amazon.com, know how to purchase CDs, videos, and even cars on the Internet. This is what we usually refer to as e-commerce. However, this only accounts for 5-10% of actual e-commerce business. The remainder, almost 95%, consists of business to business transactions. 

Growing access to the Internet and the proliferation of web sites has allowed even small companies to advertise their products and services all over the world.  It has also created opportunities for them to service and sell to global customers.

There were 1.73 billion Internet users in 2010 or about 25% of the world’s population. The major users are: 738 million in Asia (China has 253 million), 418 million in Europe and 253 million in North America and 179 million in Caribbean and Latin American countries.

Almost 247 billion e-mails were sent every day in 2009. Unfortunately for legitimate users, 70% of those messages are spam or virus carriers, so the volume of “real” e-mail is about 47 billion a day. Half of internet users make purchases on-line and another 400 million will join by 2012, resulting in over 1 billion Internet users contributing $1.2 trillion to all global business (B2C or Business to Consumer).   Online sales now account for 6% of all retail sales in the United States and are expected to grow to 8% by 2013. Four percent of sales in Great Britain are made online. Many online sales also produce increases in store sales as customers learn more about the products companies offer.

The emerging global interconnectedness will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster than ever before. Online spending rose to $3.2 billion for the week ending on Sunday November 29 2009.  

Communication is not only about email and websites. The use of social media in the context of e-commerce has exploded: 350 million subscribers use Facebook every day, 1 billion access You Tube and 27.3 million “Tweet” every day on Twitter. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs. All of these media provide entrepreneurs with free and instant access to customers around the world. Business of the future will have to be part of those social networks if they want to promote themselves, attract new customers and create new ventures using ‘online communities’.
E-commerce is an enormous, fast-growing market. Most of us think of e-commerce as a consumer buying books, clothing, tickets or electronics online, but 90% is transactions between businesses, B2B. We are talking of more than 12 trillion dollars a year or 30% of all the business between companies.

Develop a great web site that is easy to find

Before going into too much detail about the different solutions you should know that you can benefit substantially on the global market by using the internet and one or more well-designed web sites. By setting up one or more easy to locate sites, you open the door to advertising and selling your products and delivering customer service.

With a web site, you create a presence in the global marketplace. You can showcase your products and services in several languages. By using different domain names, you can make them appear local like:..eu, com, ca, sp, etc., creating the image your company is established on many markets.


B2C or Business to Consumer

Amazon.com started by selling books over the internet. Today, the product range includes DVDs, music, games, downloadable books and grocery products. Media comprise only 60% and electronics 35% of sales. Amazon.com keeps track of customer buying patterns and can make personalized recommendations on products of interest. In 2009, the company sold more than $25 billion worth of goods.

Many consumers are making their travel arrangements online.  The travel industry is very competitive. Depending on demand and availability, prices can fluctuate considerably. As well, most major airlines have switched to electronic ticketing, online check-in and downloadable boarding passes.


C2B - Customer to Business

At Priceline.com you can buy at a fixed price or submit bids on airline flights, vacation packages, cars, hotels and cruises. You can determine how much you are willing to pay, but according to Priceline terms and conditions, when the seller accepts your bid, you must complete the transaction.

C2C - Customer to Customer

E-Bay is an online auction company. You put in a bid for a product that someone wants to sell or you can list a product that you want to sell. E-Bay takes a small commission ranging from as low as 1.5% for over $1000 to 8.75% on low value goods. Traditional auction firms normally charge around 15 - 25%.


B2B - Business to Business

This is the largest market, involving many types of companies and products and services. Some companies will only do business this way. Purchasing, order acknowledgement, invoicing as well as payments can be completed online. Here are two examples.


Cisco Systems is one of the largest telecommunications, network and security services and data management systems providers. The company has about $100 million worth of sales a day. Cisco offers certification training, financing options, links to retailers and resellers and tools for customers to manage services ordering, contracts and obtains quotes online. Customers can search for Cisco products on the company web site and make purchases. Since between 80-90% of online orders are initiated by customers, there is a reduced demand for salespeople. This saves Cisco hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Most of the company’s subcontracting, after sales service, technical support and trouble shooting is managed online.

What are some of the reasons?
Cost for a call by a salesman: $200 per call.
Cost to take an order by phone: $25.
Costs for an order using e-commerce: $0.80
Interactive information over the net: 2 cents per call.
Many companies also do a large part of their customer service over the Internet, including "self-help" information.
To obtain the latest technical information about products just log into the web-site and search for the information you want to have.
So what does this have to do with you and international business?
You, as a small company, have the same opportunities as a large corporation to get exposure on the web. It makes it much easier for you to reach a worldwide customer base. Even if your clients do not buy online, you can attract new clients; supply them with information about your products as well as receiving information about them. Remove perceived boundaries and open the doors for new export sales.
You do not need to be a computer Guru to set up your own e-commerce site. There are free sites that provide help. There are also sites that, for a fee, will clear credit card transactions.

Start preparing your web site for:

  1. Information for clients worldwide. Make sure to put in the right Metatags, i.e. keywords, allowing for keywords in the native language as well as your own. Make sure to register your web-site with as many search engines as possible.
  2. Make the site easy to search and find information. (See our search button on our web site: www.exportpro.com) 
  3. If you want to sell online, use an already establish company and program.
  4.  Make sure your web-site is easy to find has a search feature and has easily accessible information. 
  5. If possible, have your web site in different languages.
    Welcome to the world of global business.

For more information read our book: “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0

Leif Holmvall
Export Pro Inc. Canada. www.exportpro.com


How to get your business up when the economy is down.

When the economy slows down we feel pressure to put on the brakes. Limit costs, limit traveling and spend less on marketing activities.
Now is the ideal time to do a couple of things.

  1. Improve your relationship with existing customers and increase market share as your competitors reduce their marketing efforts. 
  2. Expand your market.

After your own staff, the most valuable assets you have are your clients. It takes 10-50 times more effort to create new customers than it does to keep the ones you have. You don’t want to lose even one in the downturn. Make sure you keep in continuous contact with them. Ask them how you can improve your business with them. Treat your business as a partnership with your clients.
With focused effort and good planning, you can attract new customers and enter new markets. If you have not already started, now is the time to gear up.
By spreading your risks over more clients and more markets, you are less vulnerable to what is happening with your existing clients and your domestic market.
It takes anywhere from 18 to 70 months of activity to enter a new market (before a good return on investment) depending on the market and your product lines.
Some key points to consider:

  1. Select the markets and key clients you want to attract. 
  2. If you want to harvest you have to plant the seeds. It is an investment in the future.
  3. Remember that the marginal cost to increase the production and sales is very small but the profit can be huge.  
  4. Remember too, that this is not an investment for next year, but for the next 10-20 years.

Which markets and clients should I aim for?
Naturally, you look for those with growth potential. Also look for other customer groups.
Perhaps your main customers are in the automotive field, and so is your competition. Nobody is really looking into the manufacturing sector. Perhaps you should. There is less competition and most likely less sensitivity to pricing. As “nobody” is after them, they may be more receptive to new suppliers.
Perhaps 90% of your sales are to the domestic market. What export markets would provide a fast result?
Where should I go? 
Go to markets that are in the same technical cycle as your domestic market for products or those who are just entering that stage.
Geographic distance is not that important. What’s more important, if you are a newcomer to the export business, is selecting a country that is “mentally” close to you, i.e. you do business in the same way. So if you are a Swede or a Dane look at Norway. If you are German, look at Austria or Switzerland, and if Italian look at Spain and Portugal; also look at the Latin American market, where they are very close in their way of thinking. 
If you are American, your first step should not be Japan or China. The way they do business and their culture is completely opposite and it will take you a long time to get results.
How to get advice?
It is always good to take advice from people who know and have experience in international business. Please make sure you get advice about the specific country you want to enter. It is low cost insurance to minimize your mistakes and create results much faster.  Read our book “Export & Import - Winning in the Global Marketplace” ISBN 978-0-9681148-1-0
So start your engines, tackle new clients and markets, but do your homework first. Remember, your time and effort invested now will sow the seeds for a future harvest.
Leif Holmvall 
Export Pro Inc.  www.exportpro.com


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