by Dr. Karen Reddington, President of FedEx Express, South Pacific
A digitally connected, borderless world presents the opportunity for retailers of any size to expand by selling their products to an international audience. It may seem daunting but the results could push your business forward in the right direction. Your next question should be: How do I take advantage of the growth opportunities present in the global marketplace? The answer starts with changing your perspective on exporting.
Consider these four points about growing your business through international trade.
1. Going global isn’t the risky choice; it’s the safe one.
When people bring up risk management, diversification is often discussed. One way to expand your customer portfolio is to access new customers around the world. At FedEx, we see our customers taking advantage of new global opportunities every day. Many small businesses already sell abroad, and in some cases this has enabled them to weather local economic conditions.
Taking your business across borders is likely easier than you think. In fact, if you’ve read this far, you already possess one of the most important tools required for international business: an internet connection. In Asia Pacific, research shows that almost 60 percent of young entrepreneurs want an international customer base in the next five years, up from 36 percent who have an international customer base now.
2. Your existing skills will translate internationally better than you think.
Is the thought of doing business in another country unsettling? The barriers you sense might be perception more than reality.
Many businesses thrive when they embrace challenge. It’s likely you have done this already — seeking training or mentoring in unfamiliar areas such as marketing or finance. Entering a new market is no different. You just need to have the right information at hand. Your ability to assess risk, evolve and innovate will help you develop the skills you need to run your international business.
The best place to start is by reaching out to the people who have the answers to your questions. Resources and assistance from government trade departments or trade associations can help you along the way.
3. The growing middle class represents opportunity.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the global economy — this is true in many developing countries. The growing middle class naturally means more socio-economic power and more opportunities for retailers. Businesses in other markets are eager to partner with small businesses and benefit from their spirit of innovation. You can tap into this demand by finding local agents to help you scope out opportunities. There are many private and public sector tools to help you develop an international business plan that can work for you, no matter the size of your company.
4. Gain a competitive edge by staying on top of customs policies.
One of the hardest steps in international export is understanding local market customs and trade regulations. Staying up-to-date on regulations can help ensure that selling internationally is a seamless and problem-free task, while also saving your company time and money.
One way to improve your understanding of customs policies is through third-party logistics providers. Information on the latest updates and information on customs policies and regulations for a number of countries is available on the FedEx Express website. Additionally, streamlined offerings, like FedEx® Electric Trade Documents, allow you to submit customs documentation electronically so they can be easily processed.
There are unprecedented international opportunities for small and medium retailers in Asia Pacific. People are more eager than ever to explore new business ideas, and the internet and global delivery services continue to create more efficient ways to access international markets.
As many other successful businesses have done in the past, we must seize this opportunity to grow at home by going global.
Karen Reddington is President of Asia Pacific Division of FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company. In this role she heads up Asia Pacific from its headquarters in Hong Kong. Dr. Reddington is responsible for leading the FedEx business across the region, including overall planning and implementation of corporate strategies and operations across 30 countries and territories with more than 18,000 employees.