UKTI e-Exporting educational event: The benefits of international expansion

Apr 07, 2015

Earlier in the year I was asked to be part of the UKTI's e-Exporting Advisory Group. The UKTI's e-Exporting programme is a continuation of the government's commitment to get more UK businesses trading online and meet the UK trade ambition of £1 trillion by 2020. As a company that knows quite a bit about eCommerce we were delighted to be involved.

As part of its e-Exporting activities the UKTI runs a series of educational events. An upcoming event will be held at HSBC in April and wnDirect's Head of Innovation, Chloe Harris will be joining Steve Hope, UKTI specialist and MD of Promodo a digital marketing agency. Together we will be preaching the benefits of international expansion whilst explaining the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Throughout the last couple of years we have helped a number of retailers realise their global aspirations and, therefore, are more than aware of the pitfalls that can come with exporting. Despite the challenges there are also significant benefits to be had and, therefore, we think it is great that the government has launched an initiative with the objective of helping businesses navigate the challenges of international trade online.

From our experience there is plenty of desire amongst British businesses to fly the flag abroad. However, the hurdles and challenges which come hand in hand with global expansion are often enough to put people off or, more unfortunately, cause them to fail.

Our advice to the businesses we work with starts with the realisation that 'global' doesn't equal 'one market' and that the phrase 'one-size-fits-all' actually translates to something more like 'one-size-fits-nobody'. Such a flippant approach to global expansion is likely to result in nothing but failure. Consumers may desire things from 'faraway lands' but they still want them delivered and presented in a way that is familiar to them. With familiarity comes confidence.

Whilst we, at wnDirect, focus on the retail sector this can be applied to all manner of sectors. The learning for those wanting to sell their products or services abroad is that it is vital to understand the local culture. Easier said than done and requires a lot more than reading a few pages of Lonely Planet! Our way of tackling this is to work with on-the-ground, best-in-class partners but also allow our teams to immerse themselves in the local country.

Also, each country has its own import and export laws. I can assure you our customers choose to work with us for far more than this seemingly obvious statement but the reality is the laws governing cross-border transactions often appear to make no sense at all. Therefore your only defence is genuine knowledge.
So if the UKTI can give UK businesses a helping hand with their global expansion (just not retailers…we've got those covered thanks Mr Cameron!) then it is something we will definitely keep on supporting.

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