Steps to Market Your Import Export Business

Financial planning, product procurement, market research, transport, logistics, and taxation are a few aspects of an import/export business. So, where do you even begin? With a high-level picture of the whole process, you can avoid missing a crucial stage and setting the stage for complications. Read on as I share in detail what import/export business entails and the most essential steps in launching an import/export company.

Steps to Market Your Import Export Business

What’s an import/export business?

Import/Export business is the sale of merchandise from one country to another. Companies specializing in imports and exports play an essential role in the globalization of economies. Owners of importing and exporting companies mediate between suppliers and customers, facilitating the sale of commodities exported from one country to another.

There are two primary sorts of products that import/export companies deal with: (1) commodities that are inaccessible in a given country, and (2) products that are inexpensive when imported than when created locally.

The 9-Step Plan for Successful Importing and Exporting

  1. Figure out if your product is a good fit for your target market

Let’s focus on the following: The first step in starting an import business is identifying a product in demand. It is known as “product/market fit,” Nailing it will set your business up for success.

Product or market match-up is the most critical aspect to achieve as a new entrepreneur.

There are several approaches, but it’s challenging in the present era to “get any ascent” without addressing a problem that the client cares about enough to talk about with others. So, how do you zero down on a product or market match that has real potential? The basis of any thriving enterprise is the identification and exploitation of an unfulfilled need in the market. To better define your company’s activities, consider the following questions:

Since the goal of any enterprise is to alleviate customer distress, what issue will your import/export firm be resolving? What you import or export is what you sell; thus, how to add value, by resolving an issue.

Is competition high, or is there still an opportunity for your solution to thrive? Do you have a groundbreaking product concept that could help you break into a crowded market?

Before engaging in imports or exports, conducting industry testing and research is essential to verify a prospective product or market fit.

  1. Conduct market analysis

Your import or export business strategy will benefit significantly from your in-depth familiarity with your target market. The key is to zero in on your ideal customer base and tailor a product or service just for them.

To successfully position your business in the market and establish your brand as distinct from the competition, you must be thoroughly familiar with the latter. Once you’ve established a product or market fit, it’s time to hone in on the finer points.

Which characteristics of your intended audience’s demographics and psychology are most salient to you? Who are they, what issue are they facing, and why do they want to find a solution? For what reasons do they like your product?

Which companies pose the greatest threat to your success, and why are they your primary competitors? Compared to similar items on the market, what makes yours better? In what market niche do you intend to place your product? Collect the data you need to develop a product or service that will appeal to your target audience.

  1. Register your business and acquire the necessary permits

After you’ve settled on a plan of action, it’s time to get your business off the ground. There are many options for this, but many necessitate lengthy time dealing with paperwork and other forms of bureaucracy. However, handy incorporation might be for you if you’re in a hurry to get things rolling.

The need for a business license can vary widely between different countries. Find out what you need to do this and get it. Manufacturers or merchant exporters with a supporting manufacturer link can apply for an Advance License Scheme. It is given out for physical exports, such as exports to SEZs, intermediate supplies, and goods on ships or planes, as long as certain conditions are met.

Also read: Why it’s Important to Register Your Business

  1. Locate a reliable vendor

Following the establishment of a business and the identification of a suitable product or market fit, product sourcing can begin. Using an online marketplace to find potential suppliers for imports and exports is a simple first step among many. Some of the best business-to-business markets are listed below.

  • Alibaba
  • The Global Sources
  • Made-In-China
  • IndiaMART
  • TradeIndia
  • eWorldTrade

If you want to prevent paying taxes and duties on imported goods, you may obtain them from a nation with a free trade agreement with your importing country. Do your research to ensure the legitimacy of the suppliers you’re considering working with before committing to any import or export deals.

Before placing an order, be sure you have asked all relevant questions and done all the necessary research. You may ensure the vendor is authentic by checking their references, confirming their business paperwork, and contacting previous clients.

Furthermore, it is recommended that samples be ordered before importing or exporting products to confirm that the goods are up to par with the required requirements and quality levels. Last but not least, think about tagging.

You need to adhere to the labeling regulations of each country. In the United Kingdom, for instance, food labels must include a complete list of ingredients and call attention to any potential hazards in bold. Verify what labeling standards you must follow and ensure your provider is aware of them.

  1. Determine the overall cost of your landing

The time has come to pull out the calculator and conduct some math. You need to know your total landing cost to launch an import firm. The total cost of a product is the sum of all expenses incurred from its inception to the time it is delivered to the consumer. These expenditures consist primarily of the following:

  • Taxes and duties on imports
  • Payouts to customs brokers
  • Transportation costs
  • Cost of Insurance
  • Budgeting for local transit
  • Storage fees
  • Inspection Costs
  • Costs associated with processing payments
  • The cost of converting currency

One should keep in mind that the term “total landed cost” is identical to “landed price,” “net landed cost,” “total delivered cost,” and other similar expressions. Before beginning imports or exports, it is crucial to calculate the full landed cost to set fair prices and guarantee a profit.

How would you figure out what you’ll spend once you’ve landed? The entire landing cost, including customs and VAT, will be calculated once the appropriate information is entered.

  1. Set the selling price

Developing a pricing structure that allows you to profit after calculating your total landed cost is challenging. It is recommended that you carefully consider various pricing options. There is a wide variety of pricing structures from which to pick, including:

Price setting that considers costs: Add a markup calculated using standard market rates to the sum of your landed costs.

Prices determined by supply and demand: You must first compare your goods to the market when pricing.

Variable pricing: Adjust your prices frequently to benefit from market shifts and the purchasing habits of your customer base.

Using the standard pricing approach taken by businesses in your field could be simpler. But if you do that, you can lose some extra cash. If you want your import or export business to succeed, you need to price competitively.

  1. Make a Name for Your Product

brand awareness

The following step is to create a brand identity and marketing collateral. Making a website is the first step. Pick an e-commerce platform like BigCommerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce if you want to offer goods and services online. A simple website built using Wix or Squarespace will suffice if you plan to do most of your selling in person at events like trade exhibitions and conferences.

Consider the preferences of your target market while developing the brand identity for your import or export company. For instance, a black-and-white theme with sans-serif typefaces could be effective if your intended audience responds positively to the idea of a simple but effective brand.

Also read: How to Start Building Your Brand as a New Business

  1. Kick-off advertising

The next, far more difficult step is to find potential purchasers. If you have a superior offering, a well-defined target market, and have successfully achieved product or market fit, you will find this phase much less challenging. You can promote your import or export business in various settings.

Personal contact: Search the web and social media for new customers, and then approach them with a conversation that adds value to their lives. Communicate your import/export services and products once you’ve made contact. One helpful resource is LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.

Promotional costs: Carry out internet advertising campaigns using Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads.

SEO: You must implement various optimization strategies to improve your site’s rankings in search engines. To do this, you need to develop relevant content based on search terms used by your target audience.

Business advocacy groups and trade associations: If you’re looking for new business opportunities, joining a local chamber of commerce and signing up with an export council will help.

Market expos: It is essential to keep tabs on industry trade shows and participate especially in shows concerning your industry.

  1. Organize the shipping and handling of your products

Once you’ve finalized the sale’s conditions with the buyer and everything is in order, it’s time to get the ball rolling. It’s essential to think about things like these before diving headfirst into international trade when the time comes.

  • Documentation
  • Insurance
  • Accreditations and Authorizations
  • Customs duties and quotas
  • Restrictions and rules

For this reason, many companies at the outset prefer to work with a worldwide freight forwarder. Though this approach could benefit your profits, it is much less stressful than doing everything yourself. The worldwide freight forwarder you work with will transport your products from the manufacturer to the end user.

Francis Nwokike

Francis Nwokike is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Total Entrepreneurs. A Social Entrepreneur and experienced Disaster Manager. He loves researching and discussing business trends and providing startups with valuable insights into running a profitable business. He created TTE to share ideas and tips to help entrepreneurs run and grow their businesses.

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