In today’s competitive global marketplace there are many benefits to importing goods and services, whether you do it regularly or on an ad hoc basis.
Types of products imported:
- Raw materials
- Finished goods
- MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) services
Sourcing products from overseas may help you to:
- Reduce costs
- Take advantage of favourable exchange rates
- Access products and technologies not available domestically
- Provide product variety
- Offer better quality products
- Overcome domestic shortages
- Reduce dependency on a limited domestic supplier base
There are, of course, certain risks when importing:
- Financial – currency exchange rate fluctuations and tariffs
- Political – embargoes, sanctions or quotas on imported goods
- Operational – goods arrive late or damaged
- Regulatory – products may be subject to UK or EU standards, and may require product testing and certification
- Cultural – negotiations fail or are delayed because of language and cultural barriers
Plan your requirements
The first step in sourcing products from overseas is to plan your requirements:
- Objectives – what do you hope to achieve by importing?
- Products/services – what do you wish to import? Be as specific as possible
- Additional requirements – will you need after-sales support?
- Warehousing – how and where will you store the imported goods?
- Lead times – how quickly will you need the goods?
- Budget – will importing goods be cost effective? Be aware of hidden extras
Depending on what products you require and their respective availability you may have a wide or limited choice of suppliers. Key steps to follow:
- Identify countries that supply required product
- Identify specific suppliers from your preferred country(s)
- Assess any country or regional opportunities
- Conduct a financial analysis
- Identify any risks
Choosing a supplier
You may decide to buy directly from the manufacturer/service provider or to use an intermediary. Whatever method you choose, there are some key factors to consider when choosing an international supplier:
- Do the products/services meet your requirements?
- How many years have they been operating for?
- Are they financially stable? Make sure this is verified
- Do they have any quality marks? Are these UK recognised?