Too often, companies fall into a rut. Managers complain about less than ideal conditions, but yet are at a loss as to how to remedy the situation. To give your business a breath of fresh air, why not review one of the most powerful options available to grow your business?
We in the
People in hundreds of other countries love products from the
Take a look at Web sites and catalogs of US firms; most are only in English and many do not offer shipping outside of the country without major drawbacks. I found some that actually said products would not be delivered for six weeks. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, did you finish your holiday shopping by November 7? Neither did I, but that is what people overseas would have to do if they hoped to have the products on their doorsteps in time for the big day. Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember those same words present in catalogs selling in the
To open the gates to what possibly may be the biggest long-term financial opportunity for your company, five key departments logistics, finance, marketing, IT and HR will have to work in harmony as a well-orchestrated team.
Logistics: Functioning as the Initiators
Your logistics department will manage international customs. Since so much is imported already, many logistics professionals can turn on the outbound faucet more easily. Top-tier delivery options, such as those that are provided by FedEx, DHL or UPS, must be explored. Additionally, there is some good news in providing these carriers even more business; it may help you negotiate more attractive pricing for domestic business because the carriers highest margins are realized in international packages.
The logistics department should also explore the environment of the country you are planning to expand into; some of your most trusted manufacturers which are off-shore may make ideal distribution partners for your customers in their region. When shipping goods to international customers, remember that a delivery option for a much lower price point is international remail. Carriers and agents pick up your products locally and transport them to the postal service in another country that has the best rate options with hundreds of other countries postal agencies. Furthermore, a multi-carrier shipping solution can provide domestic and international service for all of the global carriers and the USPS. Regional carriers can be added for even more cost savings.
Finance Acts as the Adapter
The finance department should review and put in place additional credit card options (like JCB in
Keep in mind that there is an arbitrage spread in currency conversions that may help your profitability, and margins on global product sales are traditionally higher. In addition, Sarbanes-Oxley regulations are much easier to manage when multi-carrier solutions and audit services are added to the mix.
Marketings Focus is Modification
The marketing department of your company should focus on revitalizing the current Web site and catalog in order to tailor services into country-specific programs. A common initial step is branching out with English speaking countries like
Your marketing department should realize that since NAFTA has been approved for years and many companies in countries that are members of the organization are selling more to the
Information Technology Furthers Your Expansion
Your IT department will need to have the flexibility to accept harmonized codes, build the systems to take new currencies and adapt the Web site in numerous ways to accommodate the changes suggested by marketing, and inventory tracking through warehouse management system changes are likely to be involved. Additionally, utilizing country-specific URLs builds credibility with the specific customers and prospects in that country. Prior to incurring bigger expenses, the Internet is ideal for testing with catalog production and mail lists, but after the Web gets some quick wins on its new international focus, catalogs are a natural and time-proven process to expand into new customer segments.
Human Relations: Tying it All Together
It is challenging to develop the right policies and procedures in new languages and to understand the protocol and labor rates in countries that are not familiar to the HR department. Beginning now will be easier than waiting until the competition has successfully hired all of the best people. Hiring people with language-specific expertise to speak with customers, develop verbiage for catalogs and Web sites and determine
customs clearance offers you an advantage.
What Are You Waiting For?
Many companies are taking advantage of the global opportunity; there are already hundreds of US companies producing more than half of their revenue from other countries and thousands more have begun the process. This is a long-term adventure, not a short-term fix, but it will prove invaluable for anyone who wants to grow their business over the long haul.
Rob Shirley, President and CEO of ExpresShip, Inc. provides consulting that reduces cost and improves measurements for shippers and develops business for carriers. He has over 25 years of experience in the parcel industry, including officer positions with FedEx and Lone Star Overnight. Contact him at Rob@XPship.com or 512-217-9976.