First Steps to Starting to Export from UK

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What should your first steps be when starting to work on export to another country from UK? Find out what best practices you should follow here.

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What should your first steps be when starting to work on export to another country from UK?  You’ll need to look at your processes to understand what you need to do.

Who or where is your market?

You may be producing a unique product or it may be something in a highly competitive, but essential area.  Exporters shouldn’t feel discouraged if it seems like you are a small fish in a big pond.

  • Check trade statistics, firstly on export if available and then once you see a target market do some leg work.  If there’s import statistics also review those so you have a complete picture.
  • Check if there are any restrictions.  There may be considerations on both export and the importation country.  There’s no point trying to sell to embargoed countries or may simply not allow import.
  • Consider how you may be able to transport your goods, if this is something you want to offer.  It might be a very simple matter, or it could be that the destination country has its own infrastructure issues.
  • Check that there are no issues with money transfer for your own security.

What sort of capacity can you make?

Exporters will need to check that they have the resources to fulfil orders.

  • Do you have enough people to manufacture and pack for export?
  • Where you are bringing in raw materials for manufacture, how secure is your supply chain?

How will you pack your products?

In this regard there needs to be forward planning even from the product design phase.

  • Does your product pack in a standard shape?  Can the product pack into outer cartons which would fit on different pallet sizes?  Making the packing as lean and tight for the supply chain would reduce potential waste and higher costs.
  • How secure will it be?  If sending by air in many cases handling of cartons can be quite rough and touched with many different hands.

How will you bring your product to the chosen market?

You do have some options here, the most obvious is a direct distance sale.  However, you can consider other choices such as:

  • Work with a local distributor – potentially letting them handle local sales as well.
  • Or you can appoint a local agent to act in the middle.
  • You could seek to create a joint venture with a local or regional company

Whichever way you decide to operate this you need to ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities.  This will cover very important issues like who is paying for what, shipping terms and protection of your intellectual property.

Ultimately you need to have customers in a destination place.  This may not be the general public and may be specific companies who require your product as part of their business.  We’ll look at what sort of things you can do to promote your product at a later date.

When you follow the steps to starting to export as above you need to proceed with caution.

Get Educated!

The best things you can do is to research all available resources from your government, such as chambers of commerce who exist very much to facilitate trade. Make sure that you:

  • Check your paperwork, including your shipping invoice
  • Make sure you have checked what commodity code to use and that you have instructed your exporter accordingly
  • Make sure you are EORI registered
  • Do your research on freight forwarders if that’s something you need to consider
  • Once you’ve decided to work with a forwarder let them know that you’ve not exported before but that you have checked many of the requirements.  They will let you know on specific requirements from their point of view.


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