Accessing a new market

Navigating your export journey with Santander

rolls of fabric

The question of how you intend to supply your products or services to a new market is fundamental. Possible routes to market range from a simple e-commerce operation to setting up retail outlets in the target country. Between those extremes there are also options like delivering goods or digital services direct to customers from a UK base, working with agents or distributors, to setting up new production facilities.

The e-commerce approach can be an appealing way of dipping your toe in the water – set-up costs are likely to be relatively low, although you will have to find a way to market your products or service to potential customers. Using a major e-commerce platform can give your products greater visibility but platform fees may mean that you need to increase your prices.

The UK’s departure from the European Union has introduced new barriers to cross-border trade. Now, if your business wants to sell remotely to France or Germany, for example, you’ll face additional bureaucratic hurdles such as having to complete customs declarations on each order, and you‘ll have to  incorporate any extra duties in prices or shipping costs. If you sell low-cost, high-volume items, issues such as these may make a remote-selling approach unviable.

Building in-market connections

One common initial strategy is to work with a partner in the target market, such as a buyer, distributor, or agent. These organisations can act as vital conduits between you and your end customers, providing you with advice on adapting your products for the new market, while also securing orders on your behalf.

Trading through a buyer, distributor, or agent in the first instance can help your business confirm that the demand you identified during your market research process genuinely exists.

Being able to forge new relationships with in-country partners who are trustworthy, reliable, and able to grow your sales is arguably one of the most important elements in any business’s international trade journey. It’s crucial to devote sufficient time and resources to getting this right. The gradual lifting of restrictions on international travel means that it’s becoming easier to visit foreign markets, for example to attend the trade shows or conferences which have traditionally provided excellent face-to-face networking opportunities. We’ve also seen the rise in virtual meet-the-buyer events which have brought another opportunity to explore international opportunities before committing the resources to visit market in person.

Find your key partners

Organisations such as the Department for International Trade and the British Chambers of Commerce have an important role to play. They can facilitate introductions to potential partners in your target market and may also be able to provide references from British firms that are already working with them. Such organisations should also be able to help you address any language issues in non-English-speaking markets.

Whoever you decide to work with, it’s vital to set out exactly how your relationship is going to work and have the right commercial agreements in place to give these obligations a solid legal basis. Is your distributor or retailer guaranteeing a certain level of marketing support for your product, for example? What are the implications if your product doesn’t sell – who is responsible for paying for disposal? Again, working with the right advisors can help you avoid potentially expensive mistakes.

Key action points:

  • Decide on the most suitable market access option based on the type of product or service you’re offering. Working with a third party that can help with marketing and finding new customers can be a highly effective and relatively low-cost initial approach.
  • Identify and contact potential partners. UK-based organisations can make introductions and provide references, which can help overcome a lack of face-to-face contact.
  • Ensure commercial agreements are in place to set out your partner’s obligations, for example with regards to marketing and product disposal.

How Santander can help

Santander Navigator is a digital platform that collates our years of experience and knowledge into one online portal to help to make international trade simple. The platform is a gateway to identifying growth opportunities, navigating bureaucratic challenges, optimising logistics, and building connections, saving you both time and money as you grow. 

As every business is different, Santander Navigator offers each user a tailored experience based on their needs. So, no matter where you are on your international journey, Santander Navigator is here to help you take the next step. For more information visit Santander Navigator.

Santander Navigator’s ‘Navigating your export journey’ series will provide you with nine on-demand, easy-to-consume, virtual drop-in sessions where our international trade providers will be able to offer a one-stop shop to support overseas trade. For more information register here.

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