Welcome to "A Basic Guide to Exporting". an overview of the fundamentals in exporting, designed for small to medium sized companies who are considering finding new market segments overseas. This first article provides an overview of exporting and discusses the different channels to consider when trading cross-borders. This information is provided by the U.S. Commercial Service.
Last Published: 7/25/2018


The World Is Open for Business—Your Business

Today, it’s more practical than ever for a company like yours, regardless of size, to sell goods and services across the globe. 95 percent of the world’s potential consumers are outside of the United States, and the global affinity for Made in USA products and services is second to none. Many exporters continue to boost their bottom line and build their competitiveness by selling to world markets, and you can too. U.S. small and medium-sized companies—firms with fewer than 500 employees—account for 98 percent of the nearly 280,000 exporting businesses. The internet, improved logistics options, and array of federal, state, and local export assistance has made exporting more viable for even the smallest businesses. In 2017, the value of U.S. good services exports was an impressive $2.3 trillion. And as thousands of exporters can attest, diversifying your customer base through exporting can help to weather changes in the domestic and global economies.                         


Additional Reasons to Explore or Expand Exporting

  • Global trade in goods and services is likely to grow in the future.. The Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) introduced in 2013, and implemented in early 2017, could add $1 trillion annually to the global gross domestic product (GDP). This agreement compels World Trade Organization (WTO) members to improve customs procedures and cut regulatory red tape, speeding the flow of goods and services across borders and reducing the costs involved. The U.S. government has created a “single window” system with some of the same benefits and efficiencies as the WTO effort.
  • Opportunities with U.S. free trade agreement partner countriesThe United States has negotiated free trade agreements with 20 countries to support easier movement of goods across the border, where your customer is. Last year, U.S. FTA partner countries accounted for nearly half of all U.S. goods’ exports. Accessing FTA benefits means gaining a competitive advantage, such as reduced member countries’ import duties on goods, making these products cheaper for consumers. The agreements also generate additional U.S. business opportunities by strengthening intellectual property protections, simplifying regulations, and opening up service sector and government contracting procedures. Under the FTAs, countries generally treat foreign companies the same as their domestic companies.
  • If you have a web presence, you have a global marketing and international sales platform. With the right ecommerce service providers, you can process credit card payments for buyers in Australia or translate key pages into Spanish and other languages to further your reach. During the next few years, worldwide B2C eCommerce is projected to nearly double to $2.2 trillion with the fastest growth in the Asia-Pacific. You’ll want to be in the game as sales soar.


Do You Want More Sales Channels?

  • Today’s global online sales system is ideal for the smaller company employing more than one marketing and sales channel to sell into multiple overseas markets. Smaller companies also enjoy a greater and quicker return on investment from their ecommerce sales channels than businesses much larger in size and resources.
  • Online B2B and B2C marketplaces offer virtual storefronts and a ready-made global army of shoppers. They also offer payment solutions, and you can choose a shipper that will take care of the required documentation for you. The shipping service providers want to help make things easier too, and many offer international business advice, freight forwarding and customs brokerage services, cost calculators, and in some cases, financing. Plus, they’ll pick up goods and documents from your door and deliver them to almost any address in the world. And you can track everything on their website.
  • Some online ecommerce marketplaces will arrange to ship your goods to one or more of their fulfillment warehouses located in major commercial centers around the world. As items are sold and shipped quickly to buyers, you can restock the goods by sending larger quantities to the fulfillment centers, generally at less cost than shipping to individual consumers from your place of business in the United States. 
  • Want even more sales channels? If web-based marketing and sales are insufficient to meet your sales growth appetite, you can attend trade shows in the United States where buyers from around the world come to purchase U.S. goods and services. Show organizers will facilitate introductions to the buyers, working with agencies of the U.S. government to provide matchmaking services on the show floor.  
  • These same government agencies can arrange for you to attend shows in other countries, where the connections and influence of your embassy network can save you time and money generating new business. Government agencies can find buyers for you and arrange introductions in more than 100 countries. Call this service “customized business matchmaking.”
  • Channels can include: supplier to U.S. government in a foreign country, direct to end-user, distributors in country, franchise your business.
  • eCommerce Sales Channels - Your eCommerce website.  

               A third-party eCommerce marketplace where you handle fulfillment
              -  A third-party eCommerce marketplace where they handle fulfillment
              -  An in-country partner/distributor with robust online/eCommerce capabilities.

  • You are not limited to one of these channels. As noted earlier, today’s global trading system is ideal for the smaller company employing more than one marketing and sales channel to sell into multiple overseas markets. But 59 percent of all U.S. exporters currently sell to just one or two markets—Canada and Mexico, for example. And the smaller the company, the less likely it is to export to more than one country. Imagine the boost in the bottom line if they could double the number of countries they sell to.

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