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Bounding across borders

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For some reason there has been a lot of discussion in the UK about international trade recently but it is not a new topic of debate. We began trading internationally in ancient times when the domestication of the camel allowed Arabian nomads to control long distance trade in spices and silk from the Far East. Overtime, camels have been replaced by state of the art logistics which use land sea and air, supported with the very latest technology to deliver goods to the door step.

For many SMEs the opportunity to trade internationally does seem a distant dream due to the complications of VAT, customs, border control, duty, tracking…but it does not have to be that way.

There need be no bounds beyond your UK customer base and there are so many potential customers from Germany to Australia who are itching for more choice and getting their hands on UK designed clothes, shoes and goods.

The most common countries that online buyers are from include: USA, Australia, France, Germany and Eire, which has meant that the price points have been driven down to equal UK domestic prices because of demand and volume.

However, as retailers search for more opportunities, it means they are always looking to expand their potential client base - such as Russia, Brazil, China and Japan. These countries are more complex to deal with and therefore can command higher distribution rates but at Whistl we love a bit of complexity so it’s our job to make things simple for you!

Here are some tips if you are considering expanding your customer base internationally:



Know your customers’ expectations, not just the law in those countries, and it is essential to know what they culturally like to do. Don’t assume that overseas buyers like things done in the same way as UK buyers. For example, a German buying in Germany will expect a returns policy. If they buy from the UK we don’t ‘legally’ have to offer a returns policy but if you don’t meet this expectation, another company/competitor will.

Be upfront and keep it simple. If you put on your website that delivery is within 10 days because this time allows you as the seller more scope and delivery will be guaranteed in this time this is far better than offering shorter delivery times but the customer is not at home to receive it..In this scenario, a shorter delivery time could lead to more hassle for the customer having to drive to collect their parcel. Customers want to ‘enjoy’ the experience of receiving something they have purchased. Think customer.

Know a countries duty threshold. It’s £16 for Norway but in the States it is higher at $800 making it more appealing to sell to American consumers.

Think about the buyer! In Russia and Sweden they have no home delivery but collection points. This is the service they like.

At Whistl [RDX VTNT] we care about finding you new buyers in new markets and if you thought it wasn’t practical or cost effective think again! We may not be experts in camels but we are in helping SMEs trade their products internationally.

If you want to know more contact Paul Smith [email protected]
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