Trading internationally is a natural progression for any business looking to expand or scale up. Faced with the recent global turbulent political and economic challenges, businesses have had to revisit their strategies and focus on expanding their reach and increasing their profits. However, navigating the complex landscape of global trade can be daunting for any business, regardless of size.
The journey towards successfully navigating, innovating and thriving lies in the ability to be agile, and to ensure our values and businesses remain relevant to our customers in a world economy that is increasingly digital, fast and constantly evolving. As a business leader I too have had to focus and adopt strategies that would help me to face the challenges and capitalize on opportunities. Here are three approaches I recommend to my customers:
1. Stay informed and be adaptable
Strategies are successful only if you have the right information at hand. The first step is understanding the signposting available and knowing what applies to your industry and business. It is up to us to stay informed about the latest regulations, global trends, changes in customer behaviors and market conditions. We need to be aware of any upcoming changes in tariffs, trade agreements, and other regulations that could impact our operations. We should also understand and harness emerging agreements that can be beneficial in terms of creating new opportunities to give us a competitive advantage.
2. Build strong relationships
People trade with people, and international trade is similarly built on relationships. As businesses operate beyond borders, we cultivate strong relationships with our customers, suppliers, and partners – it is proven that businesses investing in relationships are more likely to succeed. We should also make our social and professional networks -such as OWIT – work for us and help us to invest our time and resources in building and maintaining relationships with trusted partners and stakeholders that open doors in our target markets. They can help us with local regulations, logistics, local cultures and customs, as well as business practices.
3. Embrace digital transformation
Digital is here to stay. Digital technologies are transforming every aspect of international trade across multiple jurisdictions, from paperwork, to value chains, marketing and sales to logistics and supply chain management. Businesses that embrace digital transformation will be better positioned to compete in global markets. There are many ways we can start embracing that now – from stronger data analytics that help us to gain insights into customer preferences and market trends, to leveraging our social media and other digital channels to reach new customers. We can also streamline our operations through automation, digitization and yes, AI. New technologies such as blockchain will increase transparency and trust in our global supply chains.
We cannot afford to stay still or bury our heads in the sand. It is up to us to move forward…and agility, relationships and digital are key to our international strategy, helping us to expand, grow and thrive.
Author: Noreen Burroughes Cesareo is the President of OWIT UK and the Principal of Market Accents, a UK-based woman-owned advisory firm delivering strategy, digital, marketing and communications with a focus on gender, trade and enterprise.