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#76 [15.09.2006]

How to Use Internet in Your Export Business

By Nowshade Kabir ©

How to Use Internet in Your Export Business

Even for exporters Internet can be the primary channel of sales and marketing! Effective use of Internet-based tools like website, marketplaces, B2B portals, and other instruments allow exporters to find right contacts, develop relationship, increase sales, and promote their products and services. Already many exporters are using Internet aggressively to enhance their export capabilities. According to Forrester research 82 percent of all exporters use Internet in their daily business operation. When asked whether Internet will be a critical issue in their export strategy in next three years, only 8 percent answered negatively.

With the help of Internet-based tools, you can virtually run any part of your business operation. To what extent you will use Internet solutions in your export business depends solely on you. Many exporters are quite content with a website targeted to the market of their choice. Some goes further with adopting an eCommerce solution. If you would like to harness the real power of the Internet, you should consider integrating eBusiness solutions. ‘What is the difference between eCommerce and eBusiness?” you may ask.

Many consider that these two terms are interchangeable. In reality the difference is quite big! The term eCommerce means conducting procurement and sales processes electronically through the Internet. While eBusiness solutions may cover any or all aspects of your business operations related to your company’s interaction with other business partners, buyers and suppliers such as: selling directly to end users, buying from manufacturers and suppliers; aggregating, monitoring and exchanging information; collaborative product design and managing supply chain. The purpose of these online interactions is to bring efficiency to key business processes. A personalized B2B portal is a perfect example of a comprehensive eBusiness solution.

Thanks to various B2B marketplaces, even a small exporting company can get access to powerful eBusiness tools with very small fees.

The benefits of eBusiness solutions are enormous! Using these solutions you will be able to streamline key business processes and receive many benefits such as:

  • Your buying and selling process will be faster, simpler and immediate
  • You will be able to improve accuracy, quality and time required for updating and delivering product and service related information
  • Customers will have round the clock access to your catalogue, product specification and price list
  • Online ordering system will reduce mistakes
  • You will be able to conduct market research with minimum efforts
  • Purchase order processing cost will go down dramatically
  • Get access to previously untapped markets
  • Reduce overhead costs and improve company bottom line
  • Find new sales and distribution channels

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First time when you start considering using the Internet to promote and sell products and services, you need to have a detail plan. This plan will work as your roadmap. Writing the plan will also help you structure your ideas and show the steps you need to take. The points that you have to emphasize on are:

  • What are the export products and services you are planning to promote through the Internet?

Your success rate will increase if you select products or services that you are handling in local market for several years and you are happy with the sales. Key here is to have a deep knowledge of the product or service. Trying to export a product without having sound knowledge of it may end up in disaster! The second important thing is you have to have full confidence in the quality of the product. The value of the product also has to match or exceed similar products available in your targeted market. You also have to know how exactly you are going to deliver the products to the targeted market. Constant availability of the product and good after sale service are also important factors that you need to consider when planning your export strategy.

  • Do you need to make any modification to the products to make them exportable?

Packing and labeling requirement in your export market can be different from your own country. If you are planning to ship products by container load, you might need to reconsider the present dimension of your present box. A slight change in your box dimension may help you squeeze more products in a container and help reduce shipping cost significantly.

  • Which domain areas and countries you are planning to market these products?

If you are planning to expand you sales to other English speaking countries, your .com domain name of the website should be fine, but in other linguistic areas and countries you might have to register local domain and create website in the language of the county. When Chevrolet introduced their new car under the model name of “Nova” in Latin America, they were surprised to see that although being a good car in reasonable price range the sales are not picking up. The reason came out to be banal! In Spanish, as you know, “no va” means does not go! Who is going to buy a car which says it does not go? That’s why you have to be very careful with the specifics of the target market.

  • Do you need to build your site in the language of you target market?

You must have your website and all sales and promotional material if you are targeting a market like Russia, Japan, Korea, and other countries where overwhelming population is unilingual.

  • What are the business objectives of your website?

Business objectives are the company goals you are planning to achieve with your website. Each objective or list of objectives might require different approach to your site’s system functionalities. System functionalities are the capabilities of your website which are necessary to achieve your business objectives. Your site may have different business objectives, such as: building company brand, introducing a new product to the market, supporting present distributors, selling products directly to consumers, delivering customer service, etc.

  • Other questions that you might need to have answer are:
  • How will you price your product in the specific market?
  • How will you promote your website in the target market?
  • What is the time frame of your new venture?
  • What steps do you have to take to make it successful?
  • What resources will you need to execute your plan?
  • How will you determine you return on investment?

If you answer to these questions in details, you will have a list of specific tasks to act upon in order to successfully implement your online export strategy. A clear vision, well-written plan, and implementation of the plan step-by-step in given timeframe will definitely increase your chance of success in your online export strategy.

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About the author
Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of A Ph. D. in Information Technology, he has wide experience in Business Consulting, International Trade and Web Marketing. Rusbiz is a Global B2B Emarketplace with solutions to start and run online business. Click here to contact him.