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
  • Components/parts
  • Finished goods
  • MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) services
  • Technology

Advantages

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

Disadvantages

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

Sourcing products

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?