Want to put your product out there on the export market? Detailed planning will smooth your path.
When AirPhysio began direct marketing its pocket-sized apparatus for improving people’s breathing on Facebook, happy early adopters of the device answered hesitant buyers’ queries about it on the company’s behalf and advocated for its positive effects. At that moment Paul O’Brien, co-founder and CEO of the business, decided to bypass the more traditional routes for promoting an approved medical device and sell B2C globally to people who wanted to breathe easier. “When we saw the success we were having with online sales in Australia, we started thinking about world domination – in a good way!”
The company, based in NSW’s Tweed Heads, had a roller-coaster ride as a firsttime exporter, beginning with its 2017 application for certification by the Federal Drug Administration in the United States, which took three years.
O’Brien and his wife, Ann, assembled the product and fulfilled orders from their living room at first but have consistently expanded their premises, now employ 60 staff and are steadily manufacturing 20,000 to 30,000 devices a month for sale in 100 countries.
His advice for Australian enterprises looking to export? Apply for assistance from Austrade and engage with a state body (such as Investment NSW), both of which are set up with contacts, training and funding schemes to boost Australian exports. He also suggests the following:
Ensure the design of your product is seamless because if demand from overseas markets ramps up quickly, quality control of production at pace starts with a good design that dovetails with your manufacturing and packing methods.
Research laws and regulations governing exporting from Australia, as well as international trade laws and agreements, and the sale and distribution of your product in the chosen market.
Assess your company’s ability to increase production and train new staff. AirPhysio had simple training methods based on a buddy system in place before its orders began skyrocketing.
Be prepared to modify your product for a different market, whether that’s new packaging or instructions in other languages.
Polish your website for clarity and appeal in English in the first instance. Potential customers and partners will verify your credentials according to this online storefront. AirPhysio is only now engaging overseas online specialists to translate its proposition and marketing into other languages.
Model the financials to equitably price your product in each market from the start. “Make sure it’s commercially viable for distributors and retailers,” says O’Brien. Identical pricing across all markets deters customers who shop across borders and undermine the profits of your in-country partners.
Research the best way to fulfil orders. Direct from Australia or via an in-country storage facility? Some countries require you to have a locally registered company to receive bulk orders.