Around the world in 80 trades: Traceall Global

Around the world in 80 trades: Traceall Global

Alan Steele, CEO of Traceall Global, explains how his technology – which monitors food and drink traceability from net to plate (fish) or field to fork – has secured trade around the world.

What is it your company does?

We are a technology and data solutions provider for the food and beverage industry.  We provide bespoke traceability and monitoring solutions to help companies track and monitor products across their full supply chain.

The technology monitors food and beverage from net to plate (fish) or field to fork and helps consumers and retailers understand the provenance of each individual item.

We provide retailers, wholesalers and restaurant chains with full visibility of their entire supply chain and provide them with an easy to use management and auditability tool.  Through our range of Smart Asset Monitoring Solutions, companies can track and monitor products at any point in the supply chain from bread rolls that aren’t baking properly in an oven to the planogram of soft drinks in a cooler.  

How long has the company been exporting?

We entered the market in 2008 and immediately started working with the European Union in Brussels to create food traceability standards for the sector.  98% of Traceall Global’s business is currently exported.

We currently only have one client in Scotland who themselves are a global business.  Scotland has a wealth of food and drink businesses who are only really starting to feel pressure from consumers and retailers to provide them with information on the provenance of the goods they supply, there demand for our products has been non-existent.  We are starting to re-engage with our Scottish clients and look forward to working closer to home!

What do you currently export, and where to?

We offer three individual data and technology solutions to clients globally

  1. Supplier Exchange: Bespoke Traceability Management software for retail clients
  2. Smart Asset Management Solutions: Tracking and Monitoring solutions across the supply chain, providing Big Data and IoT solutions.
  3. FishTrace: Traceability Monitoring solutions for fishing fleets and fish processing plants.  This product also helps Governments in their quest to reduce illegal fishing practices (IUU).

Our key export regions include:

SE Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines

North and South America

Europe: Italy, Turkey, England

Australia and New Zealand

What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?

As a contributor to the European Union’s working group Tracefish, creating traceability standards for the food industry, it became apparent early on that the initial business for Traceall Global was not in Scotland.  The market was overseas.   

What is the easiest part of exporting?

There’s no easy part to exporting, it is a challenge, especially when you are thousands of miles away from your best client and you are a small business with multiple challenges.  However, all our solutions are stored on the Cloud which means the platform and data is accessible anywhere in the world which makes the data collection and transfer seamless. 

And the most challenging part?

Business is secured through building relationships and most of these relationships are created through face to face meetings which is difficult when you are working across different time zones and continents.

8645 Traceall Artisinal Fishermen PhilippinesHave language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?

We use translation tools when producing the software for different countries which works well and we ensure we gather intelligence on how different businesses work so the systems are tailored according to the client’s requirements.

There are sometimes language and cultural barriers but we always find solutions that work for both our clients and ourselves.

We specifically pick countries and regions to target with our solutions and we immerse ourselves into the local culture, learning about cultural and business etiquette prior to doing business in these areas.  The importance of doing this is crucial to the success of any overseas expansion.

 Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad?

We are strongly supported by Scottish Enterprise and SDI who have both provided significant amount of support in terms of funding and introductions to help us grow our international business.  Early this year SDI recently hosted a visit with the Minister for Fisheries from Indonesia which was critical to the success of our MoU signing to commence a pilot with them.

We also have strong links with some key Global Scots around the globe who are critical to the growth of our business in key markets.  

What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?

  1. Agencies such as SDI or UKTI organise missions for companies to go and explore an overseas market.  These missions are an excellent, highly efficient, way to find out about a market prior to entering it.
  2. Pick a market you have a strong affiliation with and develop a network of key contacts to help you integrate in the local market easily (use the Global Scot network to help where possible).
  3. Read up about the overseas market before you start engaging so you understand elements such as customs, religion, preferred language, public holidays which are often very different to our own etc.
  4. Invest in the marketing for the overseas markets you are targeting.  You will have no brand awareness in these regions.  Easy hits include tapping into the local social networks, speaking at conferences/events, joining local networking clubs or trade associations and use their networks to help raise awareness of your brand.
  5. Learn some of the local formalities i.e. how do you address the people you are meeting, what is the custom around who to speak to first etc.
  6. Learn some of the local language for words such as hello, thanks, your welcome, goodbye etc.
  7. Invest in good webinar technology.  Skype can be effective but there are often delays in the connection which can be frustrating.  We use GoToMeeting which is excellent.

Any regrets?

Not having like-minded companies who were 100% focussed on overseas markets to talk to and find out these tips when we were starting out.

Not having enough money to invest in marketing when we started out on our mission to conquer the world.  Brand awareness in these markets would have really helped us succeed.

Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?

Internet of Things has huge potential and is really just in its infancy.  We know the power of data and how critical it is for companies such as Coca-Cola to have this information at their finger-tips so they can understand their customers, monitor their products, make future predictions and maximise efficiencies.   We are investing heavily in the data elements of our business and see this as our key growth area.

We will continue working with clients in SE Asia and expand our presence into other areas such as Myanmar, Vietnam and South Korea.  As illegal fishing becomes a bigger issue in the USA, we are building a network of contacts to help us expand our presence here.  

Our 5 year growth plans are to be working with a number of Governments globally and help them in their fight to eliminate Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing.  We want to help the small fishermen earn a legal, reasonable livelihood using our technology.  And finally a key focus for Traceall Global is to help drive the IoT revolution developing disruptive solutions that help businesses and cities work smarter and become more connected.   

Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

To book your ticket for the awards, click here.

And the PD Ports Northern Powerhouse Export Awards are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

Click here to nominate and for event information.