Hints & Tips Blog

Exporting – Your key questions answered as Brexit draws near

As we approach 2021, and many changes to our terms within Europe and other areas when it comes to exporting, there’s a huge number of questions all businesses are asking about where they should direct their focus.

Here are some of the key questions to think about in the coming days:

How should I start?

Start with the what, when, where, why and who. The requirements and needs of the customer, and the consumer, must be fully understood. In addition, technical aspects and legislative needs must be documented and verified before going any further. This allows a ‘specification’ approach so a sound business case can then be created, and you can move forward accordingly.

Do I require licences?

This is driven by what the product is, how you are selling and the support offered by your possible partners, agents or distributors. Consult a tax or customs advisor to optimise your approach and ensure you’re correct and have a detailed understanding of ongoing needs. At the very least, obtain a GB EORI number, ensure you have everything covered on your products origins and the UK commodity codes which apply.

You’ll find some goods are covered by special requirements for UK exportation and import regulations into the chosen market. The details can be found here, but you may need your freight forwarder or shipper to advise. I always suggest creating a product and destination matrix checked by your advisor as an ongoing process, and updated against key headlines such as legislation, import country needs, Taxation and duties, shipping and Logistics needs.

What is the difference between an agent and distributor?

Agents are appointed by you to conduct your business as intermediaries and/or representatives, who require a legal style agreement and have inferred rights. They’re often paid through commission on sales. Distributors are independent contractors who stock and sell your goods for a margin. They hold the contract with the customer and generally handle matters like shipping and aftercare. Clearly define terms with your distributor to protect your sales territory agreements and your brand.

How does exporting affect selling online?

Online sales offer a great opportunity but need to be considered carefully; compile and test a comprehensive business case before fully committing. Obviously, ensure your product is technically compliant for multi-country sales, correctly labelled, clearly priced and packaged securely.

You can sell on your website in multiple languages using a translation package, or via separate language pages, but it may come at an additional development cost. Many businesses use a third-party selling platform like Amazon, but you’ll have to weigh the benefits against complying with their terms and conditions. Often the provider will handle all logistics, warehousing and customer service elements, whilst the third-party usually covers taxation and customs requirements – but check this with your advisor.

What are the risks associated with exporting?

The best way to tackle this is to start with the top-level questions which should help in understanding the business risk:

  • Do you understand the needs of the market from the consumer view?
  • Can your business support the need, and how will it affect your existing business?
  • Is your route to market online, distributor, agent or through your own resources, and why?
  • Have you fully weighed up the associated costs, like taxation and duties?
  • Is your brand protected within a well-documented plan?
  • What are the implications of not exporting?

BHP have specialists who can support all your needs on both a practitioner and improvement basis when it comes to exporting. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

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Free webinar – 16 December

BHP are hosting a free webinar to discuss the key points to consider ahead of the end of the transition period. Click here for more information.