The key theme that came from ERP4 was that online, direct or platform, is the most obvious tactical sales channel for moving inventory, but will take focus, time and effort, so look where needed, and tread carefully:
As is the case for any type of exporting, tactical or strategic, development of global online sales channels takes time, resource and diligence – reasoned focus, testing and validation of the product to market fit, partner selection and execution – so start the conversations now with trusted sources of insight in order to leverage off their capability to progress these channels in the right way, the first time.
‘Do-overs’ are the true unicorns – Identifying and maximising the opportunity is still true for any type of successful exporting – do the work beforehand, gain the understanding needed. If you don’t the opportunity will be wasted, alongside the time and money spent.
Separate the need of moving your inventory now through tactical selling from your longer term strategy – but be prepared to deploy the tactical channel for longer than you expect.
With that acknowledged – C19 is a catalyst for significant acceleration of the trend to transact more goods and services online. If selling online in some way wasn’t part of your strategy before, it needs to be part of it now. If you are going to execute through an online sales channel, approach it with two aims; tactically if under pressure to move the inventory to market now, then as an education on if and how online channels could form part of your strategy going forward – two birds, one stone.
Logistics are a constraint. Both into the export market itself, and once there, over the ‘the last mile’. So remain flexible, over-estimate timings and over-communicate with customers.
Utilise and discuss with your current in-market partners the online platforms that would work in their markets. They know their markets and these platforms better than you ever could at a distance. Position as a discussion and then prepare to be commercially agile to incorporate them into your value chain to maximise your ability to exploit the online channels in their markets.
Reach out to your network to get clarity on possible benefits and pitfalls of direct and online channels – competitors, partners, industry bodies, specialists, NZTE – exporters are helping exporters at the moment.