Idealog guide to export: how the cloud can clear the way for global business success

Xero has built its model around doing business globally from home, thanks to the power of cloud computing. For the 2014 Idealog guide to exporting, we asked managing director Victoria Crone for some thoughts on how other Kiwi businesses can do the same.

The 2014 Idealog Guide to Export Success: Victoria Crone from Idealog on Vimeo.

The smaller the business, the less it tends to export – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Far too many Kiwi businesses don’t offer their goods and services for purchase online, meaning they are potentially missing out on both global and local customers. Yellow’s recent Digital Readiness Survey found only 50% of New Zealand’s SMEs even have a website, let alone any e-commerce capability, yet the proportion of consumers who purchase online is far greater.

(Ironically, often the same business owners who use the internet to buy products and services for their business or personal use don’t offer their company’s own products for sale online.) “Because we’re dealing with global consumers we have to put our products and services into the global marketplace in New Zealand, but also across the world,” Crone says. Internet-based shopping cart services, payment processing gateways and social media advertising can all work together to provide a cost effective new market entry point for businesses.

Cloud services lower infrastructure and overhead for exporters

Taking advantage of cloud services like Skype, Google Docs, and Hangouts make remote collaborating, meeting, and decision-making much more streamlined and affordable than in the past – and company owners can access business intelligence from anywhere. “The ability to conduct business and to have remote offices and collaborate with those offices really closely is completely different now, even more than it was four or five years ago,” Crone says.

“You don’t have to have a presence; you just have to be clever and savvy at tapping into the markets and making sure that your product is served up on the internet. Then, you need to make sure you can transact on the internet, and that you are able to ship your product there.”

Use social networking for affordable advertising

The inbuilt capabilities of social networks like Twitter and Facebook mean you can gather a whole lot of information about your fans and followers, and use it to drive targeted advertising campaigns, Crone says. “That’s actually a much more cost-effective route than doing things like going into another country, setting up an office, employing marketing people, getting onboard agencies and having to do traditional advertising into export markets.”