6 export trends to help businesses plan for growth in 2023

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2023 is a big year for international exporting, as the world economy continues to grow. With global trade deals and agreements continuing to be renegotiated, businesses that plan ahead will have a higher chance of growing their reach into new and emerging markets.

The Australian market is now more internationally focused than ever before, with a wealth of opportunities for businesses to expand their reach and gain increased exposure. According to the 2022 DHL Export Barometer report, 70% of businesses are optimistic about their outlook in 2023 with an increase in export growth. This is much higher than the average mark of 63%, which is the median of all surveys gathered between 2003 and 2022. The report also found that a significant portion of them plan to expand their workforce and consider delivery into new international markets

Overall, the 2022 Barometer report provides an in-depth look at the current state of international trade and how exporters can capitalise on future trends. In this article, we summarise the key export findings to help Australian companies plan their growth trajectory in the year to come.

1. High exporter confidence

Exporter confidence is a key indicator of the success and strength of an economy. It manifests itself in increased investment, higher export rates, and robust economic growth. High levels of exporter confidence demonstrate that businesses are confident in their ability to make profits through international trade, and that the economy is strong enough to ensure those profits. As a result, businesses are more likely to invest in themselves and expand their operations by planning for a bigger workforce, stimulating growth, and boosting local economies.

On top of the higher-than-normal sales expected, one in two businesses also reported an increase in orders in the past year – a significant increase from 28% in 2020 and 45% in 2021. However, a small group of exporters also reported a drop in orders in the same period, which suggests that business has not returned to pre-pandemic levels for some.

2. Innovation and proactiveness to stay competitive

In today’s dynamic business environment, it is imperative for a business to stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive. Proactivity and innovation are key strategies for staying relevant and ensuring success in the long term. According to the report, 43% of businesses have resolved to introduce new products and services to nudge their growth, while 41% of them have their eyes set on expansion plans into new markets. With COVID-19 restrictions lifted largely across the globe, 27% of businesses will also likely see an increase in their sales.

Being innovative can also help businesses set themselves apart from their competition – for example, by investing in new sales and marketing tactics through personalised packaging. Together with increased demand from new and existing customers, this has also propelled demand further.

3. Boost in local workforce

In 2022, 52% of Australian businesses plan to increase employee numbers, up from 48% in 2021. Additionally, a vast majority of them (73%) also said that wages will be boosted. While this development comes partly from the inflationary environment in Australia, it also signifies a willingness on the part of these businesses to invest in the local economy. 

Hiring more workers is beneficial in a few ways. By creating jobs, businesses help to reduce unemployment, which can have a rippling growth effect on the economy overall. With more people in jobs, spending increases, which helps to stimulate economic activity and provides a boost to local businesses.

4. New market expansion

Riding on the optimism in the new year are companies who have identified various overseas markets to grow their operations into. New Zealand stands out from the pack, with 67% of Australian export businesses active in the market. North America (57%), Europe (43%), the UK (42%) and South-East Asia (30%) were also top destinations. When it comes to future market opportunities, China stands out with a 6% increase in exports to the region.

Businesses that are able to expand their market share effectively will be able to drive profitable growth. It allows them to tap into new sources of revenue, attract new customers, increase brand visibility and become an industry leader. Additionally, market expansion can help businesses gain a greater understanding of customer needs and preferences, as well as provide valuable insights for their expansion plans.

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5. The importance of free trade agreements (FTAs)

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are vital for Australia's international trading partners, as they create a more transparent, stable and predictable commercial environment for all. They also help open up new markets for Australian goods and services, making it easier to access products from countries with which they have active FTAs. In 2022, the most utilised FTA is the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA), which encourages free trade and investment, as well as regional economic integration between the countries of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), Australia and New Zealand.

Given the positive recovery and outlook of the economy after COVID-19, businesses now have their sights set on FTAs which paves the way for smoother trade. In fact, close to half of the Australian businesses surveyed believe FTAs are critical to their company’s success.

6. E-commerce continues to be strong

Retail activities online have seen an unprecedented surge in popularity since the start of the pandemic. The growth of e-commerce has been driven by a number of factors, including convenience, safety, and cost savings. 

Today, people have become increasingly accustomed to browsing and buying online during the pandemic. In fact, four in five exporters reported that they generated orders through online channels, with almost a quarter of them relying solely on e-commerce to drive revenue.

However, while online channels remain the most popular route to attract business, new evidence suggests that some exporters are starting to shift their focus to alternative methods such as offline marketing.

Upcoming export challenges

Exporting can be a great way to expand a local business, but it can also come with some challenges. Every country has its own laws and regulations, which businesses need to be aware of before exporting.

The DHL Barometer report highlights the following complexities which Australian traders may have to be prepared for in the new year:

  • Supply chain uncertainty due to ongoing disruptions

  • Difficulty in getting trade financing

  • Rising operating costs affecting raw materials and services, energy and fuel, transport and freight, wages and labour, and the cost of finance

Here’s a snapshot of how Australian businesses plan to grow export revenue and overcome the above challenges:

Expand your business internationally with DHL Express

Trends are important for business growth as they provide insights into customer behaviour and preferences, allowing businesses to tailor their business growth plans accordingly. By analysing export trends in 2022, you will be able to capitalise on emerging opportunities within the marketplace and create marketing campaigns, product development, pricing strategies, and much more.

Ultimately, being competitive in the positive export market helps businesses become more successful and profitable. It also helps foster global economic growth and contributes to a more connected world. With the right resources, research, and strategies in place, businesses can make the most of their export opportunities and stay competitive in this dynamic market. DHL Express allows businesses to take advantage of their global shipping network and focus on what matters most – delivering quality products that meet their customer’s needs. The international logistics service provider offers fast shipping times for customers based in Australia shipping to countries such as Singapore, with transit times as short as one to two business days. 

Exporting goods and services to overseas markets can open up a world of opportunity for businesses. By positioning your business in an international market, you can grow your customer base, expand your profits and even create employment opportunities both in the local area and abroad.

Apply for an international business shipping account and start exporting.