SUPPLY CHAIN PAIN MANAGEMENT - EXPORTING
Exporting can be an excellent way to enter new markets. It is relatively inexpensive, as compared to building a
presence on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the hard work required to insure a successful launch.
Much of the groundwork should seem very familiar to you. It’s the same activities you would undertake when
thinking of selling your products in New Jersey!
Before you start, it is important that you understand any restrictions that the US imposes on the export of your
product to your target country. Some products are prohibited from export to any country while others are
permitted to only certain countries. You (and only you) are responsible to insure that you are in compliance with
export regulations. Failure to comply will expose you to fines, seizure of goods and permanent loss of export
privileges. A great place to start is to consult the Bureau of Industry and Security website:
http://www.bis.doc.gov/licensing/exportingbasics.htm. You might want to engage the services of a Customs
Compliance Attorney to make certain you are following the rules to the letter.
Assuming that you are actually permitted to export your product(s), due diligence should begin with a careful and
complete market analysis. Who are the prospective customers for your product and how can you segment the
market to identify effective marketing strategies? The US Commercial Service can be a big help in this regard.
From their website, you can access a “Market Research Library containing more than 100,000 industry and
country-specific market reports, authored by our specialists working in overseas posts.”
Who is the competition? What drives them in terms of future goals and assumptions about the marketplace?
What are they doing today, what products do they sell and what is the lifecycle stage of these products? What is
their current strategy and what are their capabilities?
What about your strategy? The three basic strategies still apply.
Cost leadership, the ability to produce the product at a significantly lower cost than the competition
Differentiation, having a product that is unique in the marketplace
Focus, finding a particular poorly served segment of the market and specializing in serving that segment.
Congratulations, you’ve identified a promising market for your products. Now it’s time to face a whole bunch of
other issues that you have never had to face before:
1. Find a business partner in the target country who knows the marketplace, speaks the language, and can
handle the distribution of your product. Once again, the US Commercial Service comes to the rescue.
Their Gold Key Matching Service “can help you find potential overseas agents distributors, sales
representatives and business partners.” They will set up pre-screened appointments for you to meet
these potential partners easing the chore considerably.
2. Logistics is critically important in the success of your initiative and you will find that there is a mind
blowing array of modes and prices available to you.
a. Will you be shipping full containers or LTL?
b. Are you shipping via truck, train, ship, air or some combination?
A good export broker can help you to navigate through this maze and design the best solution for you.
Keep in mind that conditions change rapidly and it’s important to review this on a regular basis.
3. Financing the export transaction can be a tricky business.
a. How will you get paid and how can you insure that you will get paid?
b. Will you do a credit check? Negotiate a formal contract? Use Letter-of-credit?
c. Will you require payment in advance or on delivery?
d. Transit times, especially on the water, can extend to many weeks. How will you handle your cash
flow during this time?
e. Will you be billing the customer in US dollars or in their local currency? If the local currency is to
be used, how will you handle the currency exchange risk?
f. What tariffs will be imposed by the target country?
Getting your banker involved (specifically one with international business experience) can help to make
this happen. The government provides loan guarantees and direct funding. Check out
All this may seem a little daunting, however, if you take it step by step you can easily navigate your way towards
your desired goal..
Brian Shube Consulting