Your largest volume of sales is conducted state to state. Your passport— if you even have one— has been relegated to a forgotten drawer except during vacations. You've got a handle on stateside operations, so should you worry about what's happening overseas? Yes. And here's why.
Even if your business deals solely with domestic concerns, the culture found in businesses abroad can be used as a guideline to shore up your own logistics practices. As many other business innovations come from idea-rich places like think tanks and retreats; it follows that a successful group of peers in another country could be just the revitalization boost your distribution and fulfillment processes need.
Brazil: Know Your End Consumer
In Brazil, business dealings involve a lot of contact and personal space is more flexible than would be considered default by most Americans. If you don't know a healthy amount about the individuals using your product, you're framing yourself as standoffish as a product provider. Get in close, shake hands, pat their proverbial arm and learn how they receive your product, what happens to the packaging, their concerns about returns and durability and so on. This information can be used to develop future versions of distribution practices, or to adjust existing ones so they're received more enthusiastically.
China: Insist Beyond Refusals
In China, traditional standards of courtesy dictate that a gift be refused three times before the giver insists and the gift is accepted.
No matter what your market or demographic, you'll be facing a good deal of static and opposition, so dig in for the long haul. Even if sales of a new product are sluggish, it doesn't necessarily mean the project itself should be scrapped. Learn to politely insist that your customers make the journey from store shelf to cart and you might discover the third time's the charm as well.
In addition to this unusual gift observation, some frequent business travelers will take on a Chinese name while visiting the country to help foster familiarity and trust-building—repackage this trick as a domestic logistics solution by instructing your fulfillment team to use locally-sourced materials, marketing, warehousing and other locally-focused efforts.
Japan: Align Yourself with Peers
In Japan, unspoken etiquette dictates that individuals who hold similar positions in a given company or pair of companies sit across and beside one another: an executive by another executive rather than a junior manager. Putting your brand out there— be it through cross-promotion, collective marketing or partnering with a logistics provider that will grow with you— in an honest, balanced way will carry more weight with a customer.
Avoid overinflating your brand or reputation to appear bigger than you are. Chances are enough consumers will see through it to make it less than worthwhile anyway.
Canada: When in Rome...
The closeness of our neighbors to the north may lure Americans into a false sense of familiarity, but make no mistake— Canada has a distinct culture in the business world.
Punctuality and a surprising streak of financial conservatism are valued by Canadians, so it's important to absorb and mimic the values and practices of a host. Concepts that require observation and careful action— such as adaptive leadership— would be right at home in Canada, and a great step in the right direction for your domestic logistics solutions.
There’s a Trick to Adapting International Business Practices.
Remain true to your roots. Your customers are, after all, based here!
Incorporate a little overseas expertise in your logistics planning, however, and don't be surprised to see your competitors scrambling to catch up. Thinking outside the box— especially if the box happens to have shipped from overseas— is one of the best ways to stay nimble in the domestic logistics market today.