There are various ways to start exporting. The selected method determines how the communications, marketing, sales and distribution of products is carried out. At the same time, the method determines how the responsibilities are divided between actors. The method of export can also develop further and change as operations evolve, and an export company can, for example, change the structure of retail or even take possession of the retail operations. When you start exporting, it is often a good idea to use retailers who have suitable customers for your own export products. The whole export supply can also include another company’s products, if this helps form the total offering to customers.
Your company must identify the actors and practices typical to the field in the target country before starting to export. How many distributive trades does the product go through before it reaches the end customer? What are the companies in this operating chain like? What does it take to enter this chain? Is operating in the chain profitable enough?
Networking in Finland or utilising a local export agent
Finding the right export channel can be challenging. In many cases, it may be a good option to utilise another Finnish company or a local export agent in the export of products and services. The product is sold directly to the Finnish partner, who can then export it as part of their own offering. Cooperation in the home country is, indeed, particularly important to small and medium-sized companies, because the effects of the limited resources of small businesses are magnified when the efforts and risks can be divided among many parties. Another option is acting as a subcontractor to a foreign partner – this means that the foreign party manages the actual sale and marketing of products, but includes products or parts manufactured by the Finnish company in their own offering.
Selling directly through local sales channels
Another option is direct export, in which a company conducts business through sales channels located in the target country. A foreign partner manages the marketing, distribution and sales of the products and services. Having a foreign partner usually improves the chances that the export business will succeed because a partner who is familiar with local conditions and practices has an immediate understanding of the local market situation.
Selling directly to the end customer
A product can also be sold to the end customer without separate sales channels. The product is delivered directly to the customer and no intermediaries are used. Direct sales are suited to products and services that are customised for the needs of each target customer. Direct sales make it possible for the company to receive direct customer feedback because the seller sees how the customer relates to the product, and the customer can voice their opinions directly to the seller during the purchase.