Tuesday, April 18, 2006

How Do You Pick A Product For Export?

When it comes to exporting, you cannot be all things to all customers.

Decide on something. Then stick with it. But how do select a product for export?

What gives you the most pleasure as a businessperson? Is it creating satisfaction by meeting consumer demands? Is it the challenge of spotting a trend, positioning yourself to take advantage of it, and striking it rich? Or is it the chance to spend your time dealing with a commodity you love? You have two viable reasons for choosing a product to export: because you know it will sell -- if not everywhere, at least somewhere, or because you like it.

Here's an example of how it works. You might start with a product you really like and know something about. This will probably prove much easier than deciding where you want to sell it. Let's say you love gardening. Your friends call you another Martha Stewart because you collect every gadget ever manufactured to help you devise more creative and beautiful ways of doing things. You ask yourself, "What if I could take some of these handy tools or accessories and get them to gardeners in other parts of the world who might enjoy them?" That's how you plant the seed, so to speak.

Once you have a likely export product in mind, learn everything there is to know about it. If you were its creator, how would you improve it? Go to a manufacturer, offer your export services, and suggest product improvements to turn a mediocre product -- gardening gloves -- into something extraordinary.

Your suggestions might mean the difference between a mobile transistor radio and the Apple iPod.


UncommonBusiness said...

Well, how about importing? I've heard that you can make more importing goods to US than exporting them. What do you think of that?

Laurel Delaney said...

It depends on where you are importing from because with a weak dollar, you can achieve strong sales on exports in most parts of the world. But to address your specific question and comment, if you are importing products from say China, where the cost of imports has not gone up, you can make a lot of money provided you offer that same product through your already established (and hopefully successful) distribution pipline and customer base. For reference, the U.S. imports about $6.50 in goods from China for every $1 that U.S. exporters sell to China.

Would it work the same way for imports from Canada or certain parts of Europe where the exchange rate is unfavorable for imports? I doubt it. Again, it depends on where you decide to import from and what you are doing with the product once it's brought into the USA.