Exporting to Europe? The month of May has many challenges

Exporting to Europe? The month of May has many challenges  article image

As an exporter to Europe or if you are investigating the European market, there are few things you need to know about the month of May.

May is a month full of public holidays throughout Europe whether it is religious (Ascension); the celebration of Spring or a historical date such as Labor Day (1st of May in several EU countries) or the 8th of May marking the end of WWII celebrated by the French.

So Australian exporters to Europe should check public holidays before planning a trip to a specific European country. Otherwise, you will struggle to secure meetings and won’t make the most of your trip.

The normal practice throughout Europe is to start arranging your meetings six weeks in advance. It will suit the Germans as well as the Italians although the Italians might find it a bit early! This is a safe practice if you already know the companies and the people you are targeting.

If you are targeting a European country for the first time, and your product or brand is unknown there, the process will take much longer.  You need at least three months to make the initial contact and convince prospective clients or partners they should meet you.

Finishing projects before summer slowdown

May is the time to accelerate any business discussion you had in Europe throughout the year before the business goes into limbo in July and August.

Your objective should be to sign a distribution agreement, close a deal or formalise a partnership by the end of June before everything slows down in July. Otherwise, you run the risk of your European business partner postponing things to September.

This could mean a loss of sales for several months – and as a small business you can’t afford to do that.

Preparing for trade shows

The European Trade Show season starts from the end of August and will last until early December. That is when most major European trade shows happen.

In May, it means you already have submitted your application to exhibit, and it has been accepted. You should just be discussing the location in the hall at the latest.

Now you need to get organised marketing wise: what is your stand going to look like, which message is going to be prominent this year? It is a good time to determine what marketing material you will have available for the shows?

I’d recommend finding a European printer and get them to print it locally and have it delivered to the European Union. Often, when brochures are shipped from Australia, customs charges the distributor for import duties.

In May, you should already have sorted out your accommodation, especially if you are attending an International show. You can then get the best deals for the team.

To manage that planning for our clients, we usually set-up a retro-planning document with a checklist. if you would like to get a copy of it contact me at: 

Christelle Damiens is the managing director of Exportia Australia and the president of Exportia France. She has been Foreign Trade Adviser appointed by the French Prime Minister, between 2009 and 2012.

Exportia assists Australian SMEs to successfully export their technology to Europe.


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