The United States is the largest, richest and most responsive market in the world and it is a market that lies right at British Columbia’s doorstep.
Unfortunately for many business owners words like “export” or “international trade” translate to “expensive” and “risky.” But with the right planning, Canadian companies can and should approach the U.S. like an extension of their Canadian market. Once basic border procedures are developed, exporting to the U.S. can be both easy and very lucrative.
A Huge and Receptive Market
The United States is a huge market of more than 300 million consumers who welcome foreign products. As a Canadian business owner, a B-1 visa is available which will enable you to travel within the U.S. for marketing and other business purposes for up to six months. And once you’ve gone through the appropriate security procedures (like basic fingerprinting and photographing), you can have access to border crossings unavailable to most other visitors.
The Canadian government has also instituted programs to help facilitate business across our southern border. In addition, Canadian businesses are generally well-respected in the U.S. and considered to be trustworthy. Canadian goods and services are often perceived to be of high quality and a “cut above” by U.S. customers.
Secret to Success: Think Domestic
The secret to successfully exporting your products or services to the U.S. is to “think domestic” by establishing a presence for your business in the United States. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical presence – you just need for your U.S. customers to perceive that your business has a presence south of the border.
In other words, you should organize all the logistics of your business so that American customers do not believe they will have any additional concerns in dealing with a Canadian firm. For example, they need to know that they can deal in U.S. dollars and have their products shipped from or returned to a U.S. address. All of your communications, logistics and other activities should be handled from a real or virtual U.S. branch office or warehouse.
Regardless of whether your U.S. branch or warehouse is real or virtual, having a U.S. presence will pay big dividends in cost savings, response time and control. You can plan ahead to anticipate storage of trade show booths and the purchase of collateral materials in the U.S., as well as for returns and repairs. And you can avoid headaches by shipping your products, literature and other material directly through your nearest U.S. port of entry.
Get To Know Your U.S. Market
While in-person discovery is ideal, Covid-19 has changed the landscape of new market research around the globe. However, conducting in-depth research remains imperative to your export success. Lean on the expertise of regional Canadian trade commissioners and U.S. based logistics professionals to establish trustworthy connections and grow your network. Remember that the United States is a huge market, so you must focus your limited resources. Most Canadian success stories in the U.S. result from niche, rather than broad, marketing efforts. Your company’s specific niche market in the U.S. consists only of those prospects you can reasonably afford to reach.
Why Sell To The USA?
For profit and proximity. U.S. sales expansion will earn Canadian businesses on average an extra 20% on every sale simply due to the exchange rate. In addition to the “low loonie,” it is worth repeating, the United States is the largest, richest and most responsive market in the world and it is a market that lies right at British Columbia’s doorstep.
Whether opening a store front with a U.S. address or partnering with a distribution center for your e-Commerce activities (UCT Fulfillment Services), Canadian business owners do need to set up an export strategy and understand their responsibilities to USA federal agencies and US Customs and Border Protection among others. While this process admittedly is complex it need not be intimidating nor paralyzing. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian companies (large and small) have been exporting successfully to the United States for decades and enjoying the profits from their U.S. sales. (Webinar – Doing Business in the USA).
UCanTrade provides key services to facilitate seamless cross-border trade into the US. Reach us with this link and let us know how we might support you.
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(Original post written by Jim Pettinger in 11/2017. Updated by UCT Staff on 08/13/2020.)