New Zealand exporter confidence is up despite the strong dollar according to the results of the 2013 DHL Export Barometer. For more insights into the survey of New Zealand exporters, we speak to Tim Baxter, Country Manager, DHL Express NZ
TRADE EXPRESS: Exporter confidence is up. Is that a surprising result?
In a way it is yes, especially with the dollar tracking as strongly as it has been. But when looking deeper into the survey findings it was revealed that exporters are employing a variety of strategies to cope with the strong dollar.
TRADE EXPRESS: What are exporters doing to combat the strong NZ dollar that we’ve been hearing so much about?
We’re seeing a variety of strategies for specifically coping with the dollar:
- 90% of exporters tell us they have adopted innovative strategies to cope with the dollar.
- We’ve seen an increase in the number of exporters importing. 77% this year compared to 64% last year
- About a third is refining their product offering (32%) and also considering re-pricing (31). While a quarter are actively competing in the online environment. (23%)
When you start piecing all of this together it paints a clear picture that exporters aren’t letting external factors hold them to ransom. They are focusing on what they can control with their business as opposed to factors they can’t.
TRADE EXPRESS: What is driving this upswing in confidence?
Necessity. Exporters controlling what they can. But interestingly because of the high dollar, the cost of raw materials hasn’t been as negative a factor as it has been in previous years. Less than a quarter (22%) of exporters claimed this to be a negative factor compared to last year where about a third (31%) said it was a negative factor.
TRADE EXPRESS: Are there any industries or company sizes that are doing better than others?
Interestingly it’s the small companies under about 20 employees that tell us they are most likely to be employing next year compared to other business sizes. It’s heartening to see that smaller companies are thriving with the view that they will one day become our next big export businesses.
TRADE EXPRESS: Explain the growth in online activity
This year, almost all (92%) of exporters are involved in some form of online activity to promote their product or service. Compared to last year where only half were actively doing this. Plus we’re seeing exporters adopt a multi-channel approach to their markets. For example not only relying on their own website but also using well-established third party websites and along-side third party outlets. This is a significant evolution the approach to exporting online.
TRADE EXPRESS: What do you attribute this to?
Because of the challenges facing exporters they’ve simply had to adapt. Plus we’re seeing on overall evolution in online purchasing. DHL ran a seminar in June on moving from a brick and mortar retail environment to online and one fashion retailer said that growth rate coming from their online store was outstripping their traditional stores by 15%. That’s a pretty compelling argument.
TRADE EXPRESS: What sorts of things are exporting doing in the online space?
Almost all exporters (90%) use their own website to sell their product. But a third are also using third party websites as well. This approach helps raise their profile in a global e-commerce environment. Half (53%) are using some form of analytics to understand customers’ behavior. Also, size is no barrier when it comes to exporting online. The survey findings showed that companies of all sizes were adopting online exporting.
TRADE EXPRESS: Where are the strongest markets?
Australia continues to be our top export market with 81% of companies exporting across the Tasman in the last 12 months. This is followed by North America, Europe, the Pacific and the UK. But China is still a sought after export destination. Exporters expect that greatest increase in export orders to come from China in the next 12 months, and they are one of the top 5 export markets for 5 years for now.