The who’s who of the international trade and import/export industries packed the Hilton Lac Leamy for FITT’s 2017 international business conference, “Your Future in Global Markets” and ICECORP had a front row seat to all of the action that took place throughout the 3-day conference. The conference was jam packed with inspiring keynote presentations, interactive workshops and great discussions, along with some really good networking mixed throughout. It was the absolute best place to be for building your international trade expertise, learning about what to do today and preparing your business for the future.
Didn’t have the opportunity to attend? While we don’t want to reveal everything we learned from the conference (there is literally too much for us to write), we thought we would share the key highlights we learned from attending and our reasons why you should really consider getting involved with the organization.
Customers Buying Habits are Changing
Today, customers are demanding speed, flexible delivery and easy returns. They value speed of delivery more than cost and 68% of millennials chose to shop with an online retailer solely based on the delivery options they have. More and more consumers are buying from their phones compared to their desktop computers. Now is the time to analyze these areas of your business. Is your website mobile friendly? Do you offer different delivery method options with speed being the primary focus? How streamlined is your returns process?
Emerging markets are growing at 25% year over year, according to the data revealed during the “Assembling you’re A-Team” panel with DHL Express Canada among the panelists. Figure out what your business is lacking and make a plan for resolving the issue so your company can stay competitive and take advantage of those emerging markets.
Collaboration is Essential in International Trade
There are a lot of subconscious complications about working in global trade. International trade is complex and change is happening constantly. The solution for small to medium enterprises (SME’s) when exporting is to learn to collaborate and partner. Nicole Verkindt, Founder & CEO of Offset Market and Dragon, was the opening keynote speaker who shared her dynamic story and knowledge on how your organization can maintain a future in international markets.
Hierarchy’s, lack of diversity and having an unwillingness to collaborate are major business killers and won’t help your organization last within the industry. The key is to collaborate and create unexpected partnerships that will help you soldier through into the future and give you a stronger hold in the market.
Global Sales Aren’t for Big Businesses Anymore
With the help of the latest information and insights on peak sales opportunities around the world, small businesses are tapping into new international markets with great revenue potential. Moreover, the number of cross-border shoppers is projected to increase by 192% from 2013 to 2018. Did you know that 83% of Canadian businesses don’t accept online payment?
These were some of the many big stats that were revealed by Paul Parisi, President of PayPal Canada during the “Choosing and excelling in your next international market” session. Aside from making sure you have an online payment option set up, in order to succeed in international sales, you also need to know when and where gifts are being exchanged and take advantage of holidays that are different from your own, and think beyond seasons and offer “off-season” sales to capture opportunities for business in other countries.
Focus on Due Diligence when Understanding FTA’s
The Rules of Origin are the most complicated part of a trade agreement, so it’s important to fully read trade agreements from front to back in order to avoid making mistakes, Maxim Berdichevsky, Deputy Director of Investment and Trade Policy at Global Affairs Canada, pointed out during the “Future Frontiers of Global Business” panel. You cannot outsource your due diligence so it’s important to focus and do your part.
We are more than just trade and logistics professionals. We’re able to provide a competitive advantage to SME’s who need help to fully understand the rules and regulations. It’s important to use your logistics provider for more than just movement because they can help answer any questions you may have about current trade agreements, as well as open up your business to markets that you previously didn’t have access to.
Look to Google to Propel Global Trade Even Further
At the conference, Jyll Saskin Gales, Export Consultant at Google Canada announced that Google has launched a new website called Market Finder. This website will allow any business the opportunity to sell to the world. It recommends the best markets for your business based on market insights, provides tools, resources and guides to help you plan for the next steps to take on your new global market journey and the data, customer insights and best tools to use to put your marketing plan into action.
Consumers today aren’t concerned about where businesses are based as long as they’re happy with the quality of products, shipping charges and the return policy. With the right tools and resources, any brick and mortar business, established online retailer or fledgling start up can take advantage of the fact that the opportunity for international expansion have never been greater. Market Finder makes the pathway to global expansion very seamless thanks to Google’s overflowing database of information and insights it has collected over the years.
So, why should YOU get involved with FITT?
Now that you’ve read about how much we’ve taken away from this conference, there’s no denying that FITT is the ultimate resource for anyone who’s looking to succeed in global markets. They offer opportunities to grow and excel in your career with FITTskills courses that help you hone your talent and skills in specific aspects of international trade, the chance to get CITP®|FIBP® designated, the world’s leading designation for global business practitioners, in-house, customized training for you and your staff, as well as many other highly valuable resources. They set the ultimate industry standard for international trade competency and lead the evolution and growth of the international trade profession.You can read all about what FITT has to offer on their website, but what you really need to hear are first-hand stories and experiences and that’s what we wanted to share with you today. We have been working with FITT for a while and Sarah Barnes-Humphrey, our Director of Marketing & Strategic Sales, is on their board of directors and has been loving the knowledge and experiences it has awarded her. So, wherever you are in your career, if you truly want to be on top of your game and feel more confident and excited about the future of your career and business than you’ve ever felt before, make sure to browse around FITT’s website and see how you can get involved with them. It will change your life!