Global expansion used to only be a possibility for large-sized companies who could afford to penetrate all corners of the globe. Luckily, that is no longer the case as more and more small and medium-sized businesses are realizing that with modern tools and technology, they, too, can move their products across borders.
For many business owners, a member state of the European Union (EU) such as Germany is an ideal country to expand into due to its robust economy, well-developed infrastructure, and connectedness to the rest of the world. After all, there is a reason that it is continually voted the best country in the world for entrepreneurs.
Read on for three things you need to do before starting to ship your products to Germany.
1. Spend time understanding your target market
Before you start making plans to ship your products across the world, you first need to spend a sufficient amount of time researching and understanding your new target market. You need to do the necessary research in order to come up with a great plan if you want your international expansion efforts to be profitable; otherwise, it could be disastrous for your business.
In addition to researching the regulatory environment of Germany, you also want to be examining whether or not there is current and future demand for your products, what the competition climate is and the distribution channels that you could potentially utilize.
Furthermore, it is just as critical to study local customs, culture, and shopping habits to see if your product makes sense in this market, and the ways in which you can adapt it (and the packaging, marketing, etc.) to resonate with the German people.
At this point, you want to start creating a market entry strategy for shipping to Germany which documents your proposed budget, the opportunities and risks you anticipate, your competitors, your marketing, distribution and pricing plans, your suggested customized offerings based on market research, and a time-frame to achieve your goals.
2. Research the entry requirements
As a member state of the EU, Germany adopts the standard EU procedures and documentation concerning the importation and exportation of goods and materials. Depending on your home country, this may be similar to what you already deal with, or it could be entirely different.
Generally, when shipping to Germany, you will be required to make a customs declaration, present two copies of the commercial invoice, and exhibit a certificate of origin. If you opt to book freight online, you can then work with the provider throughout the process to ensure that you are keeping up with all specific country requirements.
EU member states have few items that are entirely prohibited from being imported (especially when compared to other parts of the world), but they do have stringent policies particularly concerning medicinal products, chemicals, steel and iron products, clothing and textiles, and vegetables and fruit.
However, no matter what you are planning to ship, it is highly recommended that you verify that your products will be granted entry to ensure a seamless international shipping experience.
3. Regard it as a long-term endeavor
It is important to note that there is still a substantial amount of risk involved when a business begins its foray into international growth. To reduce that danger, you must have a structured, strategic, and sustainable strategy to certify that your limited resources generate maximum results.
Always be realistic and honest about the position that your business is in and ensure that your finances, leadership, team, and products or services are prepared for a new era of expansion. This isn’t something you want to jump into if you don’t have the processes and people in place to make it happen.
Keep in mind that international expansion efforts are not a get-rich-quick scheme; but, instead, should be regarded as a long‑term endeavor that you want to build steadily over a number of years. During the planning stage and the first couple of years of international expansion, make sure you are concentrating on long-term relationship-building and networking.
Has your small or medium-sized business started shipping products internationally? If so, what has the process been like? What do you wish you had known sooner? If not, what is stopping you from going down this route?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
AUTHOR BIO :- Toby Edwards is the CEO of Shipa Freight and is based in Dubai. Shipa Freight is a new online platform powered by Agility that makes it easy to get air and ocean freight quotes, book, pay and track shipments online. Shipa Freight empowers small and medium-size businesses, taking the complexity out of International Freight Forwarding, making it easy to manage legal, regulatory and compliance issues, and offering convenient ways to pay to move their goods.