Do Business Jamaica

Five obstacles to conquer along the export journey

Top five obstacles to overcome if you are an exporter

 It’s no secret that Brand Jamaica has strong earning potential, but chances are you already know this and are among the hundreds of entrepreneurs who are planning to, or are already capitalizing on it. Either way, there are many countries, shelves and customers in the international marketplace who are ready to welcome authentic Jamaican products. 

Today, we will highlight 5 major obstacles that you need to overcome to become export-ready. 

But first, let’s ensure that we are on the same page- what do we mean by “export-ready”?

Being export-ready means you are equipped to engage third-party distributors to place your product to their countrymen, clients and partners within their geographical space. These third-party distributors can be:

No doubt, to become export-ready there are a few simple processes you would have already surpassed such as identifying the product for export, capacity for increased production, and protecting your intellectual property rights. 

Delaine Morgan, Manager, Contact Management Centre at JAMPRO, states that ignoring the applicable regulatory requirements in Jamaica and the destination market for the product being exported is one of the most common mistakes that exporters make when seeking to venture into the international marketplace. 

 Here are some other pitfalls that hinder entrepreneurs from succeeding in overseas markets.

 1. Not knowing appropriate trade agreements. 

Jamaica and several countries have trade agreements, which depending on the type of arrangement disallows certain goods for export into their market or may provide preferential benefits for a particular kind of product.

2. Not meeting the packaging and labeling requirements of targeted export markets.

This is a tricky one, and many products get stuck in boxes as a result of inaccurate or inadequate labelling. Not only should the labelling information be attractive, but relevant information such as usage/dosage and the specific measurement system to be used whether grams or ounces. 

Contact the regulatory body within the jurisdiction you wish to distribute and ascertain what other information must be included on your labels. Some locations, for instance, require that the information on the label is provided in more than one language. 

Stay on the right side of the law by understanding rules and regulations to reduce the risk of breaching legal and regulatory standards.

 3. Inaccurate pricing of products. 

You also need to develop a competitive pricing strategy for the targeted export market. Get to know your competitors. Do your market research. Understand the competitive landscape, know the key players and their pricing strategy. Having a good grasp of who you will be up against in your new market helps to identify how to position your product, as well as how to price for the intended customers.

In addition, please be respectful and quote prices in the currency of the export market. Pricing a product based on its value in Jamaica is definitely a no. After all, “a dollar in a man’s country is not always a dollar in a next man’s country”.

Follow the laws of product pricing and escape this common mistake which is a big turn off for customers. Do not put US currency if the product is being sold in the United Kingdom or Canada, for example, put the landing country’s currency on the packaging. You don’t want to transfer the burden to your potential buyers of having to Google the currency conversion rate and then the cost in their currency. Your aim is to make the process of buying your product seamless. 

 4. Not selecting an appropriate distributor.

At business school, they teach that relationships are a key element of success. Choosing a distributor solely based on friendship is also a no-no. Distributors should have a credible record of paying on time and in full. They should also give full attention to the distribution of your products in the destination market. 

However, it’s not just about the distributor, your actions must lead your distributor to trust you. It’s important that you establish open communication, that you are easily accessible, and that your business actions are honest so that your distributor can trust you. 

Also, do not be timid to discuss payment with the distributor, clear contract on a payment plan, and how funds will be received. This will help you both to know what to expect in the business relationship.

5. Not taking advantage of consolidation opportunities with larger exporters.

Going about export as a sole operator is sometimes not best. Grab your notebook and conduct a cost-benefit analysis to see if it would be better to twin with another company in terms of containerization and bonded warehouse facilities.

We promised you five, but here are three bonus pointers on how to overcome obstacles that can impede your success in overseas markets.

If you are an entrepreneur who is unfamiliar with the export process and chooses to be your own broker, this will be problematic. The #1 pitfall here is that you might encounter delays with your product reaching the overseas market on time, which is bad for business. Find a customs broker who is well-versed on the export process to avoid delays. 

You are new to the scene hence a good public relations campaign will be required. Leverage social media, as well as offline platforms. Assess who your products will be targeting, and find out which media do they consume the most. Remember to avoid a “one size fits all” approach. 

Know your product and make sure you have the best-operating structure and processes in place. Work out the relevant timeframe for logistics and handling to determine perishability.

Once you have these 8 steps covered, you are highly likely to be a successful exporter representing the ‘Black, Green and Gold’, cashing-in great Return on Investment (RoI), and establishing an international presence. 

Do your research and ascertain the required guidance. There are several local agencies willing to assist and hold your hands through the process.  

Distributing to a foreign market is a big deal and due diligence must be conducted. Yes, it is hard work, but it’s also conquerable.

Complete the Export-Readiness Checker to find out how far along you are in being ready to export to the overseas market.

 Let’s do business, Jamaica!

Contributor: Shelly-ann Thompson

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