Export Strategy
Developing an Export Strategy
Developing an Export Plan
Useful websites and references
Conclusion - Export Strategy


This course is designed to give you an understanding of what an Export Strategy is and why you need one. It will also assist you in developing your own Export Strategy and Export Plan.

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There is compelling evidence that the more successful exporters take the time to plan their approach to exporting properly and to document this in an export strategy. 
Preparing an export strategy will help to define your export aims, identify constraints, set objectives and milestones to gauge success and implement your strategies. This module will help you:

  • Understand why you need an export strategy
  • What your export strategy should include
  • Develop your export strategy
  • Develop an export plan

What is an Export Strategy?


Successful exporters always have a clear idea of why they are exporting and the results and benefits they expect to achieve. This can be documented in an export strategy.

Your export strategy should clearly and broadly outline all your objectives and targets.  It doesn’t have to be long, 2-3 pages are sufficient, but it must be simple, and understood and accepted by your company members. It serves as a constant guide and binds staff commitment to your company’s export efforts.



It is critical to begin by analysing your motives for entering overseas markets. The key questions to be answered include:

  • What does my company want to gain from exporting?
  • Is an export program consistent with company goals?
  • Do we have the resources – financial and human – to execute an export program?
  • Are our products or services exportable – or are major modifications required?

The decision to export may be prompted by a range of factors:

  • Expanding sales and profits
  • Establishing a broader and more stable customer base
  • Utilising excess capacity to lower costs
  • Responding to competition
  • Accessing new technology for overseas markets.

This list should be reviewed to assess the importance or potential barriers to export success.  The list should then be reduced to about key five items that will form the basis of the strategy – and from that, the Export Plan can be developed.

Why develop an Export Strategy?

An export strategy is important for any company thinking of exporting, regardless of its size. There are strong advantages to having a written strategy:

  • The effort you make at this early stage in outlining and defining your Export Strategy will be repaid as you continue the export journey.
  • A sound strategy marks the professionalism of your company and provides valuable benefits when dealing with banks, customers and support agencies.
  • It provides direction to your staff and their involvement in its creation is a critical factor in embedding an export culture in your company.

A living document

Anticipating change and adapting to external factors is an important part of the planning process. Your strategy needs to adapt to shifting environments and unexpected situations, both in Australia and in overseas markets. When changes occur or unexpected situations emerge, make sure you update your strategy.

As your export business matures, you will also become more aware of the external factors that influence your strategy and develop ways in which you can manage and adapt to them. These external issues can include availability of finance, exchange rates, import regulations in your export markets, new or unexpected competition, technology shifts and logistics.

Where do I start?

Use the following as a guide to help you develop and write your Export Strategy. 

Look inside the company

Analyse your company’s operations and growth aspirations.

Take into account your competitive position and highlight your strengths and unique selling propositions.

Assess your strengths in terms of product, service, staff, distribution and technical service.

Assess the export environment

Assess the factors that will impact on your export plans.

  • Do you have international expertise in the company?
  • Are you aware of export markets where your products have been sold previously?

In this section, undertake the bulk of your market research and market selection activities. Undertake more detailed market research to determine:

  • competition,
  • pricing,
  • distribution channels,
  • import duties and taxes,
  • shipping,
  • after sales service,
  • regulatory requirements and
  • product positioning.

Ask Austrade to assist you with Market Selection to determine which markets offer best potential. These will include:

  • undertaking market analysis,
  • ranking market attractiveness,
  • assessing competition,
  • understanding export market environments,
  • distribution and
  • logistics.

Review product and service offerings

Select products or services most suitable for export.

Assess supply capability.

What modifications will you need to make to your product or service to satisfy overseas buyers?

What packaging, labelling and presentational modifications are required?

Conduct a SWOT analysis

A standard SWOT analysis will enable you to segregate the key factors for further work and to help shape your priorities in terms of markets, pricing and competitive factors.

More specific SWOT work will be needed in the Export Plan.

Needs assessment or "How will we succeed"

Determine the ‘must do’ factors which will underwrite your success. These could include:

  • product modifications,
  • financial resources,
  • distribution and
  • developing the final marketing model.

Develop an Export Plan

Your Export Plan will flow from the Export Strategy structure outlined above. It should include target setting, market entry strategies and financial management including your export pricing model.

Marketing decisions on distribution models will be required (e.g. distributor, agent, and representative office, after sales service).

Implementation and monitoring

Instigate the Export Plan, drive its implementation, regularly view and adjust the plan to your export strategy as market circumstances change.

Don’t forget to discuss these steps with others such as Austrade, your bank and financial advisers, as you define and write your strategy.


Points to remember when developing your Export Strategy

Following are some important points to remember when developing your Export Strategy:

  • Ask yourself the tough questions.
  • Getting strategy clear from the start pays dividends.
  • Look at all the factors which impact on your reasons and ability to export.
  • Identify five key factors that have influenced your export decision. Involve a range of staff members.
  • Have others review your strategy. Strategies must be simple and understood by all. A written document reinforces commitment.
  • A sound strategy helps you in dealing with other organisations.
  • Make your strategy a ‘living document’.
  • Review it regularly.
  • Identify external factors that can influence your business.
  • Changes will impact on your business. Anticipate them.
  • Include targets in the Export Strategy.
  • The Export Plan will flow from the Export Strategy.

Example of an Export Strategy

Click here to view a printable example of a new company, Metro Appliances, and their defined Export Strategies.

The Export Strategies are highlighted in terms of their underlying business motives and export drivers for the South East Asian region.