Internationalization in APAC: What to consider?

Global networks continue to expand and engaging internationally is becoming increasingly important – especially for businesses in APAC. And there are plenty of opportunities to seize.

The Asia Pacific (APAC) region is navigating a period of transition. The changing economic landscape and the resulting evolution of business development, target markets, and supply chain logistics have put the spotlight on internationalization in the region. Today, I would like to highlight some important considerations for APAC businesses looking to become more international.

Tailoring to the audience

Of course, “inter” plus “national” means “between or among nations”. And strong relationships between countries are critical for businesses to achieve internationalization and establish successful inter-country trade. This does not just refer to basic communication but to specific products and services that are imported and exported, and how they are presented in foreign markets.

Product development is crucial. Portfolios should be adapted to meet the diverse needs of different nations, with focus on market demand, language, culture, and trade regulations. When embarking on multi-country trade within APAC, particularly in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region, businesses should ensure to take the following into account:

  • The needs and applicable processes of developed markets vs. less developed markets and how to tailor the products and services to meet and comply with these.
  • How to best leverage the potential of high-growth regions such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • The growth of international trade by Asian nations, further fueled by free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ASEAN Economic Community.

I’m speaking from experience, and we at AEB have always been committed to supporting our customers wherever they need us – on a global level. The last couple of decades have seen us taking huge strides in internationalizing our Germany-headquartered business and get our feet on the ground in many other parts of the world.

Today, with AEB software used in over 70 countries, ten AEB offices worldwide, and this year’s 15th anniversary of AEB Asia Pacific in Singapore, we are running a truly international business. You can find more details about our international focus and a new microsite with inspiring case studies in my colleague Mark Brannan’s last blog post “Making international trade simpler”.

Partnering to enhance the local offer

The right investments are key. Investment in meaningful, valuable, and tangible assets in order to provide products and services that are tailored to and appropriate for a new region in an efficient manner. Networks and partnerships, for example, are highly important in any new market.

AEB collaborates with local supply chain companies and organizations across APAC to reinforce and expand our presence in the region, but also and importantly, to leverage our current offering and provide an enhanced service to local markets.

For example, our collaboration with solution integrators delivers a powerful, holistic solution to optimize logistics operations through the combination of our partner’s hardware products with our software solutions. In fact, we’ve recently formalized a partnership in APAC with ISC Global, which delivers business benefits through integration of logistics services and software solutions for improved visibility and control in global supply chain management.

Generally, when engaging in new markets, particularly those with different regulatory frameworks (export controls, customs, and trade laws), flexible and tailored solutions form the foundation for efficient international trade. AEB invests in developing country-specific software for smooth and streamlined logistics and customs processes across borders, and we’re regularly adding more countries to our solution suite to support expanding businesses.

It’s also essential to be on the same page, literally. Whether it is marketing collateral, online contents, or events – local presence and the ability to speak the local language reaps rewards and fuels multi-country trade. This effort goes a long way: to forge relationships and build networks, to increase efficiency of processes and operations, and to further establish a business’ market position in that country.

In APAC, we are investing, for example, in developing information materials for customers in multiple Asian languages such as Japanese and Bahasa Indonesia – have a look at our multi-language product brochures or our new Japanese website. We are also taking a pro-active approach in sharing knowledge directly and personally with our target groups during our first, upcoming Southeast Asia roadshow: together with our partner B-EN-G (Toyo Business Engineering), we are co-hosting global supply chain seminars in Singapore and Bangkok for Japanese manufacturers looking to optimize their (global) supply chains.

The power of listening and sharing

Research is a powerful business tool. It benefits your own portfolio development as much as your customers’ business development. We feel it’s crucial to listen to and stay on the pulse of our target audience – it shapes how we move forward and what we offer in the different markets around the world. At AEB, we do this in many ways as part of our customer centricity program.

We publish, for example, an annual global trade management research study, a joint project with the DHBW University in Stuttgart, Germany, which examines global trade and logistics trends and priorities of the year ahead. This year, we will focus on connectivity and mobility (applications/apps) – a particularly trending topic also in the APAC region.

Our 2017 study will kick off with an online survey in July and we will be reaching out to you soon to get your views and invite you to take an active part.

Making it easy – for all parties!

In the midst of the economic transition in APAC, regional businesses should take advantage of the manifold opportunities that the current market shifts and developments present and take their cross-regional and international activities to the next level. Facing complex global trade regulations and supply chain networks, there are many ways to simplify international trade activities.

Take advantage of your region’s internationalization, invest in IT solutions to build foundations for the future, engage with partners and drive collaboration across regions and networks, and – importantly – ensure to customize your offering for your target audience in terms of product development, marketing material, and local channels.

At AEB, we are always on the lookout for new partnerships to complement our offering and provide added value to our different markets across the globe. Let’s start the conversation today on how internationalization can work for you! I look forward to your comments  on LinkedIn.

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