MPKG Gayo Arabica Coffee

Developing an Export Plan

A well researched export plan is the first step to take for opening new opportunities for your firm to international markets.

Here we will look at the key characteristics of an Export Plan to help get you started!

What is an export plan?

An export plan helps you understand the facts, constraints, and goals for accessing international markets. Use it to create specific objectives, decide on implementation schedules, and mark milestones of your success. It is also useful for coordinating activities among team members and keep everyone motivated to reach goals.

Why is an export plan important for your business?

  • Written plans clarify the specific steps that need to be taken to achieve the goal of exporting and help allocate the resources that are required in each step
  • A well thought plan will help your business identify long-term growth opportunities outside of your domestic market
  • Without a solid plan you may not account for important information, which will result in delays, your products being stuck and consequently a loss of money
  • Approaching multiple markets will help you diversifying your customers base

What are the steps to develop an export plan?

  1. Identify the product to be exported and check its potential interest in other countries
  2. Conduct market research on the countries of interest
  3. Decide on a pricing strategy
  4. Define a strategy to find buyers

Key Tips

Keep it simple. The initial planning effort itself will generates more information and insight. As you learn more about exporting and your company’s competitive position, the export plan will become more detailed.

Make your Export Plan a flexible management tool, not a static document. Objectives should be compared with actual results to measure the success of different strategies. Don’t hesitate to modify the plan as additional information and experience are gained.
A detailed plan is recommended for companies that intend to export directly, meaning selling to an end-user in another country. If your company chooses indirect export methods (which is recommended at the beginning) you may start by developing a much simpler plan.

Getting started: aspects to consider in an export plan

1. Product

  • What need does my product fill in the global marketplace?
  • What modifications, if any, must be made to adapt my product for export markets?
  • Do I need special licenses or certificates to export?
  • Do I need to modify packaging or labeling?
  • Do I need to protect my intellectual property?

2. Pricing considerations

  • What is the cost to get my product to the market (freight, duties, taxes and other costs)?
  • Given an estimate of the shipping costs, what is my pricing strategy?

3. Promotion

  • What modifications, if any, should I make to my website for marketing purposes?
  • Should I sell on third-party e-commerce platforms?
  • What kinds of social media should I use to build awareness?
  • Should I attend trade shows where international buyers are present?

4. Management Issues

  • How committed is top management to exporting?
  • What are the expectations?
  • How quickly does management expect export operations to become self-sustaining?

5. Experience

  • With which countries has business already been conducted, or inquiries already received?
  • Are domestic customers buying the product for sale or shipment overseas? If so, where?
  • Is the trend of sales and inquiries up or down?
  • Who are the main domestic and foreign competitors?
  • What are some lessons learned from past export experiences?

6. Personnel

  • What in-house international expertise does the company have (international sales experience, language capabilities, etc.)?
  • Who will be responsible for the export department’s organization and staff?
  • How much senior management time should/could be allocated?
  • What organizational structure is required to ensure export sales are adequately serviced?
  • Who will follow through after the planning has been done? 

7. Production

  • How is the present production capacity being used?
  • Will filling export orders hurt domestic sales?
  • What about the cost of additional production?
  • Are there fluctuations in the annual workload? When? Why?
  • What minimum-order quantity is required?
  • What is required to design and package products specifically for export?

8. Financial considerations

  • What amount of capital can be committed to the production for export and marketing?
  • What level of operating costs can be supported by the export department?
  • How will export expenses be covered initially?
  • Other new development plans might compete with export plans?
  • By what date must export pay for itself?
  • Do you qualify for any type of export financing?

All this information will then have to be organised in the Export Plan. An Export Plan can also be thought as a business plan with a focus on selling to an overseas market.

An Export Plan has the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Company overview
  3. Products
  4. Export objectives and goals
  5. Target market analysis
  6. Market entry strategies
  7. Regulatory and logistical issues 8. Risk factors
  8. Implementation plan
  9. Financial plan

Next steps

Writing a comprehensive Export Plan can be a complex and time consuming exercise. Plans are often developed with the support of export promotion agencies or independent experts. We recommend that if you are interested in exploring export opportunities for your products, that you contact us and we will be able to recommend organisations that may support you to achieving your goals.