How do we get towards the export target?

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This week is #ExportWeek and there are a series of events up and down the country aimed at helping companies explore their export potential.

We're also blogging about what exporting means to manufacturers. As Felicity noted in her blog on Monday, the scale of the challenge that the UK faces if we are going to meet the export targets is great.

If we're going to get there, manufacturing will have a key role to play.


How do we get towards the export target?

Manufacturers will be part of the answer. They have a key role to play in growing exports. Not only does the sector account for nearly half of all UK exports but in many cases manufacturers have been working proactively to take up the opportunities of exporting to new markets, investing in developing new products, services and engaging in new branding and marketing activities.

Moving into new export markets and developing existing markets feature highly amongst manufacturers’ reasons for innovating and improvements are the result of proactive action by manufacturers.

Exporting does take hard work…

Manufacturers need to:

  • Differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace
  • Find new customers (and sometimes convince customers to move away from existing suppliers)

Selling to new customers can be difficult.

Customers will often have specific requirements that their suppliers need to meet before they purchase products and the validation processes can be expensive and time consuming.

One manufacturer we spoke to had approached a customer in 2011, reached an agreement in 2012, but then had to spend two years working on the customer’s quality checks and requirements before an eventual order was placed in 2014. While the outcome was positive, and the manufacturer now has more orders from that customer, it was a challenging and costly process.

Another manufacturer highlighted the significant time investment associated with selling to new customers, telling us that it would usually take at least three visits to a new potential customer in order to win work.

But it is more than worthwhile

Selling to new customers opens up new sources of demand for manufacturers, while selling into a range of markets can make total demand more resilient to economic shocks in one particular market. And as we know growing exports is important for business. Exporters tend to grow faster, have higher turnover and employ more people than non-exporters.

If you are interested in finding out more about Export Week, you can go to UKTI’s website, or follow the #ExportWeek hashtag.

And also look out for EEF new report Britain’s Global Adventure: The Export Opportunity out tomorrow, Thursday 12 November


Senior Policy Researcher

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