Top tips for trading offshore

Discover insights from Kiwi experts actively exporting great New Zealand brands.


Not every day do you get the chance to learn from the experiences of those actively exporting great New Zealand brands abroad. However, at our recent ASB Backing Business Trade event with ExportNZ, Paul Gestro, international trade consultant at ASB, interviewed a talented panel to discover their insights.

Competition vs. cooperation

One of Tony Martin's, CEO of Prevar, key messages was to think about working together, especially if youre in the same industry. 'The Latin root for the word competition actually means to conspire together. So we should conspire together to sell offshore, rather than looking at the business down the road as a competitor'.

Personalised innovation

Consumer nutritional needs will increasingly be met by real-time information. 'There’s a really cool innovation,' says Tony, 'already available on a fridge, with a big iPad on the front. Placing your hand on the screen tells you what you should be eating. Now that is pretty cool!’ Technology will therefore enable nutrition to be delivered differently, with much more personalisation. As consumers become pickier, producers, exporters, and businesses need to respond to those challenges.  

Tony's top tips

  1. Consumers will want to know what they get from your brand and product, over and above the physical aspects, before they buy.
  2. The consumer experience will become more critical than the supply chain customer, as they can influence buying behaviour and the perception of products.
  3. Younger generations are driven by online experiences and are growing up in a digital world, even owning property in the metaverse. How will that impact your business?
  4. Think ten years ahead and always keep an eye on the future.

Recipe for success

Sarah Sherriff and Dave Anderson from Dash Group shared their recipe for success, which starts with three fundamentals: be in an industry with massive potential, have a product with significant point of difference, and last, the capacity to fulfil demand. If you pass these tests, then their success formula involves six steps.

  • Step 1. Aspiration. Have an overarching long-term goal, which is not usually just about making money. 'It's your North Star' says Sarah, 'to test all your decisions with customers, suppliers and staff'. 
  • Step 2. Proposition. Know what your brand stands for and how it's positioned in the market. If it's a premium brand, the distribution model, price, and package needs to resonate with consumers.
  • Step 3. Plan.  Be bold. One way to manage this is to select five big rocks you want to crack. 'It’s five', says Dave, 'as you can count them on one hand, therefore easy to remember. If you want to add another in, one has to drop off.' Then assign each plan to one person to drive it forward’. Review them at least annually.  To help decide which rocks stay, you can run a Dragon's Den style pitch competition with your team to show the best of the available opportunities.  
  • Step 4. Financials. 'Once you've got a plan, you have to see if you can afford it' says Sarah. 'The main finance options are usually optimising existing cashflow, borrow, or raise capital. Review your cash reserves regularly’'.
  • Step 5. People and processes. It’s important to invest in people ahead of the curve, so you’re hiring for the business you want to be. For example, someone else may be best to lead an export drive, and as you grow, processes get more complicated. Learn from companies that are bigger than you.
  • Step 6. Governance. The last aspect is setting up an advisory board or having mentors around you with experience. They'll make you focus on what's important and keep you on track. If you have key employees coming and going, your board can be the one constant you can rely on.

Sarah and Dave's top tips

  1. As a founder, make time for your personal journey as well as the business.
  2. In FMCG your label is often the only thing a customer sees when deciding what to buy in that split second. Spend a lot of time on it as it's effectively your own little billboard.
  3. Mitigate your risk with export customers by not relying on one customer, have clear terms and ask for deposits or prepayments, and be well capitalised to allow you to invest appropriately and ride out unexpected costs.
  4. Find distributors that are strong with non-competing products in a similar category, this should mean they have a good relationship with the buyer for your product.
  5. When exporting you need to appeal to three groups: the distributor to take your product into the country, the category buyer of the store that will sell it and the consumer who will buy it.  Understand what each of them is looking for and tailor your message accordingly.

Leverage partnerships

Craig Sims, CEO of Craggy Range, outlined that it doesn't matter how big you are, it's never easy to enter new markets, so they work with other companies to leverage their brand. 'We've partners who have been with us from day dot' says Craig, 'chosen not just for commercial outcomes, but they need to love wine, preferably family owned and have a view of long-term success built on quality in all they do, just like us. Vineyards take 10-15 years to get a full return, and it's the same with our partners'.

Craig's top tips

  1. People make the real difference and if you look after your people, who look after your customers, you can achieve amazing things.
  2. Partners and their people are great to extend and enhance your business, choose both on commercial and brand fit.
  3. If something isn't working, and to stay ahead of the game, reach out to your network to robustly test your logic, then have a plan A, B and C as a backup.

Get tips and tools to help run your business straight to your inbox.

No thanks