How to Shore Up Your Global Trade During Tough Economic Times
Few economists have a positive outlook right now. The International Monetary Fund is projecting a “sharper-than-expected slowdown” with global growth dropping from 6.0% in 2021 to an expected 3.2% in 2022, and then 2.7% in 2023.
Businesses, then, are wisely seeking to do all they can to shore up their foundations and protect their global trade revenue. Thankfully, there are multiple ways that they can do so. Let’s take a look at some of these methods now.
Delivering Cultural Awareness Programs
With technology making cross-border trade easier than ever, cultural awareness has become hugely important in the workplace. Some 89% of white collar workers report that they complete projects in global virtual teams “at least occasionally” according to a survey of employees from 90 countries.
Whether it’s completing an internal project with global team members or delivering an international sales strategy, businesses need to deliver cultural awareness programs for their staff if they want to get the best out of each and every connection that their employees make. Doing so is an important part of protecting a company’s global operations since it can lead to stronger relationships and longer-term opportunities.
Supply Chain Globalization
Globalization doesn’t just mean that businesses have more international customers. Internal vendors come into the picture, too. And they need to be managed effectively.
In the realm of globalization, the management of vendors (aka suppliers) who provide localization services to businesses must not be forgotten. The localization industry, which adapts content to different audiences around the globe, is made up of vendors such as translators, content creators, interpreters, voice actors, subject matter experts, and a range of other specialists. They ensure companies have the tools needed to reach markets from around the world.
Businesses that manage such teams well can truly make the most of their international reach. By connecting in a well-planned, coordinated way with localization experts, companies can build everything from better local supply chains to more engaged audiences for their products.
Everywhere you look the global supply chain is a mess, but businesses that take a strategic approach to localization as part of their supply chain management can fare better than most when it comes to operational efficiency. And this can help to give those firms the edge during tough economic times.
Supply chain managers will face a range of challenges in 2023, many of them related to supply chain globalization and its implications. Businesses will need to embrace globalization in their supply chains over the coming months if they are seeking to shore up the operational efficiency of their global trade operations.
Supporting Sales Staff
Another way that companies can protect their global operations is to support their sales teams. Sales staff are the lifeblood of many global businesses, but the largely commission-based nature of their roles means that they can be particularly vulnerable to changing macro-economic circumstances. This can cause sales staff to look for jobs elsewhere when the hard times hit and their bonuses suddenly dry up. This can have a major impact on businesses: their best sellers leave and they find their sales figures fall through the floor.
To mitigate this and protect their global operations, businesses need to ensure their sales teams feel nurtured and valued. Investing in training and mentoring can achieve precisely this. It shows that the company is committed to the ongoing development of its sales teams there for them over the longer term. This delivers more than money alone–it shows that the company cares.
Naturally, tough economic times are a worry for individuals at all levels of a business. Those at the top need to worry about their profit and loss accounts, while those doing the day-to-day work in the business are likely to be increasingly anxious about their job stability as the economic woes worsen.
Yet there are steps that businesses can take to ease the pressure. Revising targets can be a great way to do so, from company-wide goals to the individual achievements that employees are expected to deliver each month or each quarter.
Targets that applied before a recession, when consumers were spending freely, clearly will not still apply during an economic downturn. As such, it’s important to update your company’s approach. But this does not mean you need to abandon your goals entirely; instead, think of it as a shift in attitude, which focuses on market share instead of arbitrary numbers. If a company can increase its market share by even a single percentage point during a recession, it stands to do well once the economic good times roll around once more.
Building up brand recognition and customer loyalty are also great tasks to undertake in order to shore up your global trade. Just because your customers aren’t spending right now (or aren’t spending as much), doesn’t mean you can’t keep them engaged and connected with your brand. Focus your marketing team’s efforts on doing so and you’ll have a loyal base of customers who will happily spend their money with your business at some point in the future, when cash flow allows them to do so.
We saw the supply chain benefits of localization above, but it can also be highly effective in terms of customer engagement. Show that you’re on the ball with local issues that are impacting your customers, and they will feel that much more engaged with your brand.
Direct Your Ad Spend Wisely
Finally, be sure to direct your advertising spend wisely while times are tough. Not every country will be experiencing the same degree of economic hardship. As such, focus your ad spend on markets where consumers are still spending more freely in order to maximize the return on your advertising budget. Review and adjust your spending regularly to keep up with the latest economic changes.
By implementing all of these measures, you are giving your company a solid foundation in terms of its global trade over the coming years. Times may be tough right now, but they won’t always be. Do what you can to protect your business and your team during the hard times and you should be able to enjoy your company flourishing when more favorable economic circumstances return.
Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a translation services company that assists businesses in conveying their meaning to the world through their multilingual and technological support.