Following the success of the HSBC Scottish Export Awards last week, BQ is continuing to champion Scottish exports all year round as part of our 'Around the world in 80 trades' campaign. This week, we heard from Dr. Peter Mowforth of e-commerce specialists INDEZ...
What is it your company does?
We are e-commerce specialists. We help our clients with their commercial sites but web design is actually only a small part of our business.
We also provide comprehensive outsourced marketing packages that can fully automate online marketing.
Integrating payment systems, price comparison along with integration with accounts, stock control and supply chain systems are just a few of the solutions we can offer our clients.
We give our clients the digital means to trade around the world.
How long has the company been exporting?
INDEZ is Scotlands longest established web business, launched in 1995; we started exporting via ecommerce 16 years ago.
What do you currently export, and where to?
We supply the full range of our services to clients selling around the globe. At the last count we dealt with 87 different countries but this number goes up regularly.
In our view Scotland is lagging behind the rest of the UK in the uptake of e-commerce, sadly most of the big UK sites are based in London or the Midlands, business north of the border are missing a trick here.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
E-commerce is simply modern trade. At the click of a button we may have an e-commerce sale from Aberdeen but they could just as easily be in Atlantic City.
As soon as we started to trade using client websites we were exporting products.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
The digital nature of our business means there are no physical barriers in place. It is truly international. With ecommerce to not export requires an active step.
And the most challenging part?
The local skills shortage is the biggest challenge for us. No dedicated courses, training programmes or qualifications in ecommerce exist in Scotland.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
There are some difficulties when dealing overseas but we have solved most of these by building artificial intelligence into our offering.
Language barriers are tackled by using translation software, we have formulas and adjustments to cope with currency conversions and to overcome cultural differences we make global websites look and feel like local businesses.
We also automatically optimise prices for different countries and automate product feeds for overseas digital marketplaces. Basically, we automate exporting.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
We have not had any support so far. The clients we undertake ecommerce projects for sometimes get support but we don’t.
We made some initial enquiries but found a lack of understanding around what e-commerce entails and what help is needed at the moment.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Speak to a supplier or company that actually does business overseas. Look at case studies and engage with those who do business day to day in overseas markets.
These people will have a wealth of experience you can learn from. Many Scottish businesses jump straight into having a web design company build their e-commerce website.
Web design is only a very small part of joined-up e-commerce. Before you choose a supplier, undertake diligence to check that they have a step-repeat track record in building the type of online business that you want. If they don’t, find a supplier that can.
None at all. We were expecting to deal internationally from the very start and exporting has been a cornerstone of our business from day one.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
The challenge for us is to help Scottish businesses understand ecommerce and, together, create a critical mass e-commerce community here in Scotland.
E-commerce is currently embryonic in Scotland. Skills are few and far between and the few that have them often get headhunted down South.
E-commerce is undoubtedly the biggest thing in business today. If our objective as a nation is to create wealth, jobs and exports then e-commerce should be the first choice for focus and investment.
If that happens, INDEZ will do well and in 5 years could be competing head-to-head with the London-based suppliers.
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