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    4 Smart Actions That Will Help Your Import Business in 2023
    Updated On: 24 Feb 2023 | 845 Views

    4 Smart Actions That Will Help Your Import Business in 2023


    For many reasons, 2023 is an unusual year for Nigeria. Chief among these reasons is that it is an election and change of government year, which usually comes with intense political activities that inevitably slow down economic activities. But in the midst of these – as it has been witnessed in the past – some businesses will still thrive, while others will find it difficult to grow. International trade is not exempted from this potential distortion.

    Thankfully, there are pro-active measures and actions you can take as an importer so that while others may be groaning, you will be in some safety nets. I call these “The four smart actions”. I know you may be thinking of pressing the brakes until the coast is clear. This may seem sensible to some, but it’s a time to work hard on some aspects of your business so that when that coast is clear or even before them you are already well positioned to reap from your efforts when others were asleep.

    The 4 Smart Actions

    1. Plan post-elections now

    Elections will come and go. The change in government will come but your business must remain and be positively positioned to take an edge over other businesses that may have slowed down. Your international negotiations and more important research must be done now that many are likely to slow down watching if it’ll be rain or there’ll be sunshine. The following will prove to be beneficial to you all through the year.

    • Research more on your industry. What’s going on internationally? What are local competitors doing? Are there threats of substitute products to your products? How can I get better suppliers? How can I get better trade partners – be they freight forwarders, customs clearing agents in Nigeria or logistics partners? What other markets can I look at?

    • Consult. Where there’s no wise counsel, plans fail. Seek information, knowledge and “how-to-do’s” from experts and experienced colleagues or professionals. If you need free consultancy on International Trade, consult Valuehandlers’ free international trade advice desk .  It’s new!


    2. Master international buying economics

    More than ever before, how profitably you buy will tell on how competitive you’ll be in the local market and ultimately determine whether your business will grow, shrink or stagnate.  This economics can be in several forms, but I’ll touch on just 2 here – Buying location/Supplier, Exchange rate projections vs Stock Management concerns.

    Buying Location and Supplier

    Be the first to reach the right supply location and the best buyer. For instance, According to Trade Data Monitors by the Washington International Trade Association, China is Losing Export Markets to Other Asian Countries. “Political tensions with China have spooked manufacturers who have been moving production to other Asian countries”. This is a piece of information that may be potentially beneficial to some Nigerian importers. There are thousands of others. Seek!

    For some others, it is some information on beneficial pricing of a supplier over another. I know of two importers of a type of a product in Nigeria buying from the same country, same quality, no export requirements differences, and no freight cost differentials. However, they buy from different suppliers with more than $3 difference in pricing of the product by the unit of measurement. Imagine what that difference is if you’re buying thousands of the unit of measurement.

    Exchange Rate Projections vs Stock Management

    No matter how big or small your business is, the international value of the Naira will always be a concern. Hence the ability or exposure to forecast with reasonable accuracy what the Naira exchange value will be, viz-a-viz what to order, when to order and in what quantities, will go a long way in determining how profitable your order will be. These are areas where you may need some professional advice. If you can have access to some free professional advice, do not hesitate to take advantage of it this year.

    3. Use only freight agents and clearing agents that are interested in the growth of your business

    You always need good partners to succeed in business. As an importer or exporter, one of your most important allies is your freight forwarding agent and local customs clearing agent. Cost of freighting and clearing can form a substantial part of your total landing cost. Therefore, it’s important to engage only the agents that are genuinely interested in the growth of your business. I have been involved in the importation business of a client over the past 7 years, and have seen and supported him move from a few kilograms of air consolidation to small cbm in groupage shipments and now to tens of containers of imports. It’s always a joy to watch and associate with such. Your international and local trade partners must be genuinely interested and happy to tell the story of your success and celebrate those successes.

    Aside from them being genuinely interested in your growth, you’ll do your business a lot of good by engaging/retaining that in addition, they are competent and professional freight forwarder and clearing agents. The following factors will help you in choosing such.

     Good Knowledge of the industry and your business

     Traceable and well organised office(s)

     Tact – How sensitive is the agent to pre-empt threats in the freighting process or clearing process, and proactively move to avoid them? How careful are they to avoid errors of omission or commission that may cost their clients (you) painful delays or loss of money? How diplomatic are they in ensuring smooth passage of your shipment both at port of origin and at destination.

     Dynamism – How adaptable are they when there are changes or difficulties in the process?

     Organisation – How efficient is their office and service procedures 

     Transparency – are they open in communication or hide under some ambiguous excuses?

     Doggedness – Are they willing and determined to always assist you solve your shipping challenges?


    4. Be consistent

    Lastly, creating a good system or working out a good business year for yourself is never a one-off thing. Planning ahead, mastering the economics of things and reviewing your partners should be a consistent thing if you truly desire to grow your business in 2023 and beyond. Keep at it and keep winning!



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