EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
3 September 2020 – exporting
Takeaway from today: first steps in thinking about exporting
• Knowledge of processes and regulations
• Understanding local variations
• Finding the right partners and business models
• Knowing what help #UKGovernment can give
Question one: Should more British manufacturers be encouraged to start exporting their products? Are they already sufficiently encouraged, supported, advised?
Response: “I believe that there is more that can be done, especially to countries where there are vastly different customs in terms of doing business, legislation, tax regime, etc. We also need to consider female exporters that face increased obstacles in exporting. In addition, considering that in a few months we are facing a different trading environment as a result of #Brexit, we must make sure that all exporters are represented in the new #TAG and that no vertical industry is falling through the gaps.”
Response: “Yes and more support is always helpful especially with legislation and different country requirements but it does also depend on your business and how easy and cost-effective it is to export. We make big mouldings where shipping volumetrically doesn’t always make sense.”
Response: “Absolutely, but we also need to export and communicate the idea of British brands as a mark of quality. Germany are experts at promoting the quality of their industries abroad, we need to do the same. No more British self-deprecation - especially in the media.”
Response: “British-made is still a great brand and in demand across the world. Many are accidentally exporting through orders on their websites. This can be boosted with the right advice and business model.”
Response: “Yes why limit yourself to these shores, it's a big wild world out there. As for support/advise we tend to work with partners or third parties who know their patch. Some markets are easier to work with than others.”
Made in Britain: Finding the right providers and understanding the requirements, these often come together but at a cost? something non-exporters may not have experienced?
Response: “It is probably worth the cost as it makes life a lot easier and they know what they do.”
Response: “The majority of our products are sold within the UK, as we are sub-contractors. I've always believed that the Chamber of Commerce would be a great help for any companies looking to export more.”
Response: “Exporting and overseas selling is something we are looking at definitely. Two considerations for us is trust in an export broker or association and depth of knowledge and cost analysis for stock lifecycle with fulfilment.”
Question two: What are the barriers to manufacturers starting to export and sell overseas? Is it knowledge, finance, risk, visibility of markets, distribution?
Response: “There are many possible barriers all centred around a team's understanding of the entire exporting process, export markets, regulations, tax rules, etc etc. And not least, the different cultures and customs of conducting business abroad.”
Response: “We need to understand how we can eliminate barriers and stumbling blocks that can be automated in terms of processes and paperwork, and focusing on adding value through market positioning, branding, pricing, distribution agreements, partnerships, etc.”
Response: “Risk, finance and resource - we spend more time dealing with our export customers for a whole host of reasons but again, if you have a product you can sell directly this might not be as significant.”
Response: “Mitigate or remove barriers: knowledge - training and learning risk - low-cost start - website, trade missions, visibility - translated websites, in-country promotion distribution - subcontract - an abundance of providers who know export laws.”
Response: “All of the above and loads of paperwork. Our freight forwarders tend to make this process a load easier and the cash up front before starting manufacturing or dispatching removes some of the risk.”
Response: “I think one of the hardest parts is actually the marketing. It can be difficult getting into overseas markets without having a good strategy for marketing and advertising yourselves as exporters.”
Response: “Foreign competition? You have a product that sells globally, but you will always come up against the local/regional product?”
Response: “Risk is a big one - exporting is by no means a low-cost, low-resource investment. But this relates to issues such as knowledge. If there were more accessible information and examples out there, would it be less of a risk and easier to pursue?”
Question three: Where can manufacturers get help from to start to explore selling in overseas markets?
Response: “HMG is pushing export and has been for many years. Attend some of their export seminars and talk to their local people. A chamber of commerce and others in your industry sector will help.”
Response: “Other producers of complementary products already exporting are a great source of knowledge and experience, usually willing to share and collaborate.”
Response: “The DIT has a wealth of knowledge (be warned not much practical experience) that's really useful. They've use of local embassies for marketing and research as does the UK embassy of the target export country.”
Made in Britain: Do you think the DIT and networks are useful for specific market sectors or are best to give ‘overview’ and ‘direction’ of a region?
Response: “They provide specific country support, research and marketing. Some of it is FOC and the rest low cost. They even conduct telephone sales/appointing campaigns.”
Question four: What can the UK government do to support manufacturers who want to start to sell overseas, or to sell more overseas?
Response: “Promote digitally, organise more trade shows, promote great quality and products, identify role models for the local market to see and push #MadeInBritain as a marque.”
Response: “In my experience, taking advantage of research, sales and marketing support that government depts offer is cost-effective. Involving them in anything else usually gets overly complicated. Government should stand back unless asked to step forward.”
Response: “More of what they are doing at present. Employ more export advisers.”
Response: “Make more visible, more easily available the plethora of reports they have about market sizes, complexities, customs, opportunities and by sector.”
Response: “Your local Chamber of Commerce is a hugely valuable resource for all areas of exporting.”
Response: “Continued sustainable finance in the form of grants would be nice allowing small business to secure more contracts with overseas partners. Loans are quite frankly impractical and unrealistic for small business.”
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