Posts Tagged ‘Exporting Basics’

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Where do thousands of U.S. Exporters look for advice?

May 31, 2017

Export.gov, U.S. Commercial Service offer trade expertise to help your business compete and succeed in the global marketplace

David Fiscus is the Regional Director of the Pacific North, U.S. Commercial Service
Looking to add international sales to your bottom line? Why wait? There’s a lot you can do today to accelerate your entry into global markets. One of your first stops should be a visit to export.gov, where you can find export-related educational articles and videos, tools, local events, market intelligence, and much more.

Each year, thousands of U.S. companies navigate the export.gov website to take advantage of free information designed to help their businesses grow. New to the vast line-up of exporter resources is our Exporting Basics Video Series. Topics addressed include export planning and strategy, finding foreign buyers, getting paid, making the export sale, and other considerations such as intellectual property protection.

As companies develop an export plan, contacting their local U.S. Commercial Service office is a valuable avenue to gathering additional market intelligence, confirming market opportunities, and identifying prospective foreign partners through an array of specialized marketing and due diligence programs. With more than 100 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service is the export promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA). Check out a short video highlighting our unique capabilities.

There’s an incredible depth of experience across the entire U.S. Commercial Service. Our trade specialists throughout the United States and “boots-on-the-ground” professionals in overseas markets possess a wealth of international business skills, industry sector expertise, and connections that are second-to-none.  Our people around the world work seamlessly as a team – identifying market opportunities and addressing and resolving market access barriers to help U.S. exporters compete and succeed in the global marketplace.

Each year, the U.S. Commercial Service assists thousands of American businesses in making new export sales and expanding into markets worldwide, helping generate billions of dollars in U.S. export sales. In fact, 86 percent of the firms we assist are small and medium-sized companies with fewer than 500 employees. You could be one of them.

The results speak for themselves. In a 2016 U.S. Department of Commerce study, nine out of 10 companies that used ITA export programs would likely recommend ITA’s assistance. On average, these companies increased their annual revenue from the previous year by 9 percent, or $1.9 million, as a result of this assistance. Moreover, the same percentage of companies also anticipated increased revenues within the next three years due to ITA assistance.

Our success is your success. Get Inspired. Read how other U.S. small business exporters are succeeding abroad. Check out our Exporting Basics Video Series and get on the path to export success today!

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Finding Foreign Buyers Through eCommerce Sales Channels

December 15, 2016

James Bledsoe is Deputy Director of the eCommerce Innovation Lab

eCommerce is the future of cross-border trade.  Most conservative estimates posit that ecommerce will be responsible for over 50 percent of all global sales by 2020; this percentage is even higher in the retail sector. Around the world, 95 percent of the global consumers hold 75 percent of the global purchasing power—is  your business in a position to connect with these online consumers?  With ecommerce sales, it is not so much about finding the buyers online, but rather finding out where it is online that the buyers can find you.

Before you invest heavily in an ecommerce market strategy, I and my office of the ecommerce Innovation Lab, part of the Department of Commerce, recommend that you should first take time to conduct basic research about the existing ecommerce market for your products or services.

[Download Video 18MB]

There are Country Commercial Guides available for you to use, as well as ecommerce-specific Country Briefs that will help you to Identify eCommerce Market Opportunities for your target markets.  There are many online tools to help you find out which market is right for you; for example, Google’s Market Finder can help translate keywords into target market languages to see their popularity by the relative values placed on them.

I also recommend that for your online business you should work on an ecommerce strategy:

  1. Objectives: What do you want your online presence to achieve? Are you looking for an active sale through your website, or are you educating the potential buyer for a more passive sale?
  2. Resources: What are your contingency options for sales? The return-on-investment (ROI) you put into building your consumer networks may be months away.
  3. Target Market and Audience: Who are your buyers? Businesses?  Young consumers?  This will determine how you will approach your online presence.
  4. Competitor Analysis: Who are your closest competitors? What makes them successful online?  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  5. Website Feature List: Create a simple mockup of what functions and abilities you want your site to have before you decide on a professional web developer to help you.

Next, you will want to Choose the Right Channel Mix of ecommerce sales channels to pursue in your target market to help you be found by the consumers you are targeting.  There are four general sales channels for ecommerce:

  • Your Own Website – you educate for a passive sale or actively process sales through your own website. This can be your US-based site, or a country-specific site through your web developer.
  • Online Marketplaces – Amazon, eBay, Baidu, Mercado Livre.
  • Third Party Distributor – they will sell your products through their website, utilizing their existing in-country sales and marketing networks.
  • Social Media – a great opportunity to establish a presence/brand, but be sure to use a local marketing firm that is aware of and sensitive to local culture and traditions.

I don’t recommend that you solely focus on one ecommerce sales channel, but rather choose the right mixture of sales channels for your business. For example,70 percent your own website, 20 percent online marketplaces, 10 percent social media; or 40 percent online marketplaces, 50 percent third party distributor, 10 percent social media, for example.  In other words, cast the widest (and smartest) net possible to establish yourself in online positions where your consumers frequently visit.

My best advice for businesses looking for online buyers, both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C), is to work with a local distributor to get established in that market.  Local partners have the existing marketing infrastructure that you don’t have to invest in, the existing customer networks that you don’t have to build, and most importantly, the local recognition and reputation that you don’t need to establish outside of your product/brand.  There are Matchmaking Services that our International Trade Specialists can assist you in finding the right in-country partner through our 85 overseas U.S. Embassy postings.  You should also consider contacting your nearest trained Global eCommerce Specialist for free counselling to help you develop your eCommerce strategy and guide you through the cross-border ecommerce landscape.

For more information on resources available to find reliable partners and foreign buyers, see the Exporting Basics videos on Finding Foreign Buyers.The videos discuss the many ways to find foreign buyers, including: using local sales representatives, taking advantage of customized exporting services, attending trade shows or trade missions, and connecting through ecommerce.