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Growing your business through exporting print Print

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Exporting to new markets can be an option for growing your business, especially in Asian countries. It can open doors to a lot more sales and profit, but it’s more complex than selling locally. So we’ve put together a few tips for you to help guide you into the exporting arena.

Growing your business through exporting

5 tips to get you started

Good planning is key to successful exporting. Here’s a list of 5 things that will help you plan your export strategy.

    1. Research and test – it’s important to do your homework and find out if there’s a market for what you’re selling. Your target customers in other countries will have different needs than those you’re used to locally. Talk to other exporters, and ship a small quantity at first to find out if it’ll sell. The New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) website is a great resource for first-time exporters.
    2. Red tape – take the time to become familiar with the requirements you’ll have to meet to export from New Zealand and into another country. Packaging, labelling and safety standards are among those you’ll have to meet. NZTE has a section with detailed information on the requirements of various countries. 
    3. Transport and logistics – this can be a steep learning curve. Talk to other exporters as well as freight forwarders, brokers and logistics companies to gain an understanding of what’s required. For example, you’ll need to become familiar with incoterms, which are standard terms used in exporting. NZTE has a list of the current incoterms.
    4. Costing – exporting can be expensive in the beginning, so it might be necessary to invest in new equipment or more staff to ramp up production, redesign products or develop a new marketing strategy that targets your new markets. A detailed cash flow forecast is essential, and make sure you’ve discussed your needs with your suppliers and accountant.
    5. Beware of cultural clangers – what you really don’t want is to offend anyone in your new markets. Other countries have different cultures, beliefs, likes and dislikes, as well as their own way of doing business. Finding out what they are is crucial. And make sure that your company name doesn’t translate to something offensive or even humorous. Get to grips with their local etiquette and your negotiations will go much more smoothly.

5 tips for growing your exports

    1. Exploit economies of scale – you should be able to benefit from this, such as perhaps adding an extra shift to increase production without having to invest in more equipment. You could also buy larger quantities from your suppliers and receive a discount.
    2. Payment guarantees – larger scale orders mean more risk. So reduce those by having payment terms and guarantees in place. Additionally, letters of credit or documentary credits through your banks offer security and is often a recommended option.
    3. Research – this doesn’t stop in the planning stage. On-going research into your target markets is essential, and you should visit your export destinations if you can, as you’ll develop stronger relationships with your overseas customers and distributors. You’ll also be able to tap into local help, such as translators and business networks.
    4. Get help – if exporting is going to take up a lot of your time, hire someone to manage the local markets and keep things running smoothly.
    5. Binding agreements – don’t be tempted to buy anything on a verbal agreement or emailed order. Legally binding agreements are important for export production, ones that have been checked by a lawyer.

Pros and cons of exporting

It is generally best to export to countries with growing economies, but this can depend on the product or service you’re exporting. There are a few things to consider when deciding if exporting is right for your business.


    • Targeting a market in a growth phase improves your odds. While entering a market in a growth phase does not provide an iron-clad guarantee of success and profits, it does increase the likelihood.
    • Consumer confidence and spending is likely to be higher in demand-driven growth markets, especially if you’re exporting products they want.
    • Potential for increased sales and faster growth from extending your market base to overseas countries, where you can find new customers and niche markets.
    • Higher profit margins from producing on a scale that makes better use of resources (economies of scale).
    • Lower risk from diversifying into different international markets rather than relying on New Zealand’s economic climate. For example, during a local economic downturn, your overseas customers may be unaffected.


    • Language and cultural barriers. It’s important to research the culture of the country you’re planning to export to. The last thing you want is to cause offense in a country you’re targeting as an export market.
    • Hidden costs around requirements and restrictions, and other red tape such as packaging and labelling.
    • Customer preferences differ from those in New Zealand, so again, researching your target market is important.
    • It’s likely you’ll need to develop a new marketing strategy for different countries.
    • Gaining local knowledge is important, so you’ll need to have access to people with local experience and knowledge. You may need to open an office in the new country, and visit it regularly.
    • You'll also need sufficient capital so you can ramp up production while dealing with longer payment cycles and higher transport and delivery costs.


Exporting in general carries higher risks and costs than trading in New Zealand, simply because you are further away from your customers and your market. However, if you have researched the market for your product, the capacity to exploit economies of scale, and sufficient resources to break into an export market, exporting has the potential to provide you with access to a growing and robust market.

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