Recently, Vibrant Graphics’ CEO, Mike Sewart, embarked on a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel to attend a “Commercial VIP Event,” hosted by HP Indigo Digital Press Headquarters. In light of this trip, I would like to explore aspects of working with another country. In doing so, I recently spoke with an acquaintance that had many clients that produce in Prague, Czech Republic and Yokohama, Japan.
“Prague is a logistical sweet spot in Europe much like Memphis, Tennessee is in the U.S. Our Yokohama, Japan facility offers our customers an entry into the Asian Market. If customers need full production capabilities in country throughout continental Asia, we have a strategic partnership with other Asian production companies that allow us to produce work for our clients locally.”
The benefits of producing locally in other countries are numerous:
• Shipping times are greatly reduced which allows you more time to plan/produce the project (in some cases weeks are saved)
• Much lower customs/other fees
• Greater control over when the product gets delivered
• Localized foreign language translation
“Some countries are tougher to work in than others but generally speaking – producing locally in that country and having people who know the market coordinate delivery will save time, money and hassle. That’s why we are expanding internationally and a lot of this is driven by savvy customers who understand the benefits of producing in other countries.”
Some things to consider include thinking logistically about what you wish to accomplish. Be strategic in your expansion efforts. For example, if you are a flexible packaging company that is heavily involved in food packaging production (especially meat) and would like to enter the country Brunei, you might want to think again. Brunei is not suited to produce meat packaging, since it is a largely kosher society. If you wanted to enter the flexible packaging industry, focusing on creating packaging and label components for non-alcoholic beverages, sauces and seasonings, and baked goods, Africa has a strong growth rate in implementing flexible packaging (thus, there will be adequate resources for production and distribution). Also, you may need to coordinate your efforts by speaking with the World Trade Organization in order to complete international shipping paperwork.
In addition to the aforementioned strategies, be sure to consider cultural barriers! With this in mind, there are many differences to consider. I would use cultural guidelines in creating or developing relationships with any sector.
An example of a few cultural differences in between the U.S. and other countries to consider may include the following:
- Different marketing strategies apply in different countries. In Israel, “Four major and about sixty smaller, Internet service providers serve more than two millions users, including 40% of households and 60% of businesses.” These percentages are not as high as the U.S., and would be something to keep in mind.
- The major religious influence affecting the carrying on of business in Israel related to prohibitions on conducting work on specified days of rest.
- Online strategies such as Facebook and Twitter may work well in the United States, but it may not ‘spread the message’ as widely in other select countries.
- There are different intellectual property laws outside of the United States
- There is a different currency used in other countries – affecting the rate of exchange.
- Physically backing away from a business partner can be perceived as an insult, especially in Brazil where there is a closer speaking proximity than in the U.S.
- Oftentimes in other countries that are very family oriented, it is not uncommon to speak about your family during an introduction.
- Be cautious of packaging guidelines (for instance, do other countries prohibit the use of certain dyes?).
Opportunities in other countries are moving countries across borders more frequently. As these opportunities arise, it is important to adhere to other countries hierarchy systems when doing business with them!
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