Small business: Export markets - Paul Grey

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Paul Grey, founder World Wide Access on different ways of exporting. He launched World Wide Access in 2008 with the specific objective of using software technology to make it faster, easier and cheaper for New Zealand products to reach American customers.

Paul Grey, World Wide Access. Photo / Jason Dorday
Paul Grey, World Wide Access. Photo / Jason Dorday

What are you trying to achieve at World Wide Access?

World Wide Access exports New Zealand products and sells online in America, Europe, China and Japan. It has developed a way to export enabled by new software technology, which is fast to market and costs less than a conventional market entry. Products can be in-market and generating export revenue in just weeks.

World Wide Access combines export market entry with e-commerce, software automation and online marketing in a way that was not possible just a few years ago.Now, through our company, product companies have the in-market selling advantage without needing to establish a costly direct presence or sign away control and margin to a distributor.

Who have you worked with?

We have worked with Merino Kids, which has gone to number one in its category on Amazon.com and Real Nappies, which is competing against big brands in the US. Mix Limited signed on with us just five weeks ago and we already have products from their brands -Primal Earth, Dominate and Saviq - selling in the USA, demonstrating the rapid time to market we can achieve.

In May, Ecoya became the first publicly-listed company to come on board. They already have a network of 300+ resellers and their products are already on Amazon. They've come to us for our expertise in selling through Amazon, and for our automated systems for managing wholesale order processing and fulfilment.

When a new business is starting out down the export route, what should they be thinking about?

We try to make it easy for businesses exporting for the first time. World Wide Access takes care of shipping, customs clearance, warehousing, logistics, payment processing and tax compliance. We've put together a 'Getting Started' checklist highlighting some the things businesses do need to take care of: world-wide-access.com

Some practical questions to ask:
• Is my packaging suitable for shipping and courier delivery?
• Does my product comply with the market regulations? Often these relate to labelling and certification.
• What are the top two or three selling products I'll be competing with?
• For the customers currently buying those products, why would they choose to buy my product? What makes my product better?
• How can that be described in terms meaningful to the customer in that market?
• Do I have my pack size, packaging and price point right for the market? There's a reason we sell The Village Press olive oil in a 1 litre carton in the USA rather than the 250ml glass bottles you see in NZ supermarkets. A 250ml glass bottle of the same oil will cost the customer about $30 including delivery.World Wide Access can deliver 1 litre of premium olive oil anywhere in the USA for US$25. At a lower cost the customer gets four times the product. It's a no-brainer value decision, yet too many companies - including bigger ones that should know better - don't pay attention to what customers actually want to buy through online sales channels and the real value they're offering the customer.

Where are mistakes made in exporting?

If you consider the American market, the conventional paths to export market entry aren't wrong but each has major barriers or weaknesses. See the Common Entry Options section which NZTE promote: nzte.govt.nz

You can risk everything in committing to a direct market entry. You can lose control of your brand to a distributor. The barriers to entry mean that many products simply never make it to export markets.

World Wide Access offers a new channel to market for products, we argue, at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the business risk.

How do you think exporting can be done differently?

Here's an example of a New Zealand success story, a firm called Mumi&Bubi, small in contrast to Ecoya, which probably wouldn't have any presence in the USA if it weren't for the exporting opportunity opened up by World Wide Access.

Mumi&Bubi brought its manufacturing back from China to New Zealand and got started in America with us in 2011.We sent a pallet of Mumi&Bubi Solids Starter Kits to the USA. Only 20 sold in the first month. A few months later sales started to get a little traction, we'd sold that first pallet, and shipped another. Just two years on we're now selling five pallets every month in the USA, and Mumi&Bubi has started exporting to Canada and Japan as well.

To me this epitomises the potential of this different approach to exporting, and the potential of vast markets such as the USA.

I believe in exploiting the power of e-commerce - at its most advanced - to reach customers directly in the big markets of the world. Online and mobile sales channels are the fastest-growing. In the USA, online sales are up 15 per cent and mobile sales up 30 per cent. Conventional distribution operations don't have the technical capability to exploit the potential of e-commerce, which at its heart is a technical, software-driven discipline. We do. At its heart World Wide Access is a software engineering data-driven business.


Next week, we will continue to discuss the whys and wherefores of exporting. Let us know what information would be of interest to you and we will search out the experts who can help. We might look in more depth at currency hedging which would be relevant in the current roller coast environment. Let us know where you need help.

- NZ Herald

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