Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Ask The Experts: How Can I Get Started Exporting?

In NY Enterprise Report

In the Report's Ask The Experts column, I share an answer to the following question but be sure to read the first two paragraphs of my answer very carefully because that part was edited out due to space constraints:

Q. I have been in the cosmetic business since 1993; we buy surplus products from various U.S. manufacturers. In the past we have sold to some locals who send these goods back “home” to their own country for resale. How can I get started exporting cosmetics to such countries as Africa and South America, and to whom else in these related fields can we offer these types of goods?

Morris Schlesinger
President, F.I.E. Merchandising Corp.

A. Buying closeouts and surplus items from American manufacturers with the understanding that you will not resell the goods within the same market has been around since the beginning of international trade. Some refer to this as parallel imports or “gray market” transactions. Although it appears you trust the “locals” you are selling to, it is in your legal best interest to document the fact that all merchandise purchased from you must be exported from the United States and never be resold within the U.S. This should be done to protect the investment you have made in working with the local manufacturing companies who so willingly put faith in you to sell their products overseas.

American products have always held a certain allure to consumers worldwide. It is not surprising that women from other parts of the world jump at a chance to buy American goods at deep discounts. Men and women alike enjoy novelty, and they love to feel that they are buying into a trendy, cutting-edge lifestyle.

To find an appropriate market niche in a specific overseas market, do your homework.

Segment Your Market

Since cosmetics can encompass many different kinds of products, segment the market to determine the best place for your products. For example, consider the type of cosmetics you are going to export. Men’s? Ladies’? Color cosmetics like lipstick, cheek color and eye shadow? Perfumes? Colognes? Under each product segment, list the categories of likely customers until you reach the end user for your product.

To read the rest of the answer, visit NY Enterprise Report March/April 2005.

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