Q: What is the key consideration for companies putting together an export plan?
A: The most important consideration is research. When Santander recently conducted a study of would-be exporters, Growth Britain: Unlocking The Potential Of Our SMEs, we found that two-thirds of companies were too fearful to explore trading overseas. The first thing to do to diminish that fear factor is to conduct your own research and find out whether there is demand for your goods or services overseas.
Companies that confine themselves to their domestic markets are four times more likely to go into bankruptcy than companies that trade internationally, according to our report. Diversification via exporting is therefore an excellent defensive strategy in challenging economic times. Our research also clearly shows that once companies begin to export, they become much more optimistic about their future growth prospects.
Q: How can Santander’s Trade Portal help with overseas expansion?
A: The Portal provides a five-step process for exporters, taking them through:
- Where to trade
- With whom
- How to connect with suppliers, importers, etc
- How to execute
- How to establish themselves overseas
Where to trade is really the first question any exporter will ask. The Trade Portal shows users the top 20 international markets for their product, which means you can quickly gain a sense of where you will find demand. It also shows the fastest growing markets for that product, and illustrates how well other UK companies are performing there.
Next, and uniquely among services provided by UK banks, the Portal gives contact details of the biggest importers or suppliers for a given product in key markets, giving the user an invaluable means of making contact with potential customers or suppliers.
Users can access information about Santander trade missions, as well as industry forums, regional trade shows and open public and private tenders. There is a wealth of information on this part of the site including 40,000 trade shows; individual country business profiles over in 185 countries, including best trade practices by country, their local tax systems and local legal environments, as well as over 100,000 importers and 60,000 exporters. The Trade Portal also provides an export calculator, which helps users assess the costs of exporting to each specific market. This includes export tariffs and tax charges, which can differ widely between various markets.
Once a business has been trading overseas successfully for a few years, it will often look at establishing a local presence in that market. Here the Santander Trade Portal can provide all the legal and regulatory information required. Similarly, Santander's International Desk team are stationed in 12 major markets from Brazil to the UK, and are there to provide the dedicated attention, skills and local knowledge for expanding UK companies, enabling them to take the difficult step of growing their businesses internationally with confidence and support.
Q: What do you consider to be the Trade Portal’s most useful feature?
A: The wealth of contact information is what makes the Portal a market-leading tool. The single biggest obstacle for would-be exporters is knowing with whom to get in touch, and here the Trade Portal makes available a wealth of contact data on possible buyers, as well as importers, exporters, and potential competitors. Santander is the only UK bank to provide this information.
Q: What else should exporters be doing to ensure success?
A: First of all, I would encourage exporters to gain as much insight as possible into the business culture of their target market. There is a great deal that can be learned ahead of an exploratory visit about the accepted ways of working and the key cultural differences between the UK and overseas markets. Contact organisations like UK Trade & Investment, and the British Chambers of Commerce for specific advice. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) offers a variety of professional qualifications that could equip you and your employees with invaluable international business knowledge.
I would also recommend exporters ensure they have sufficient processes in place to secure prompt payment. This is often overlooked as people sometimes start trading with overseas customers without first gaining a thorough understanding of the mechanics of how they will be paid and how local legislation will work in practice. Banks have many ways of protecting companies from delayed or non-payment, and from their currency exposure. Santander UK’s own solutions in this area include International Payments and Receipts, Supplier Payments and Trade Finance. With this many resources and initiatives within reach to help conduct and support their research, UK businesses may find that the answers to their questions about export lie surprisingly close to home.
For more information about how we can help your business expand internationally please contact your local Relationship Director.
You need to be an online banking customer of Santander Corporate and Commercial to gain full access to the Trade Portal. If you do not use our online banking service you can still use the Portal, although some parts of the site will be restricted.
The Santander International Trade Portal is provided and managed by Export Enterprises S.A. Santander provides access to its client companies, but is totally unrelated to the database contents, which are the responsibility of Export Enterprises S.A.
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