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Taking exports to the next level for standard part supply

7 November 2018

Most companies want to increase their overseas sales, but deciding on a plan and knowing how and where to start can be daunting first steps. Here, Louise Helliwell at WDS Component Parts Ltd. explains how the Leeds-based manufacturer and supplier of engineering parts, machine accessories and workholding components upped its game in the international arenas.

WDS has been serving overseas customers for many years, but about three years ago we decided to look at how we were addressing exports to see what improvements we could make. The driving force was of course the huge potential of world markets and their opportunities for long term growth.

We offer a vast range of parts, from simple fasteners, handles and castors to ball transfer units, gas struts, hydraulic clamps and workholding solutions. Additionally, we have the technical skills in house to help clients design systems and, if requested, we can develop bespoke solutions for them.

Our business began as a traditional catalogue order company, we printed catalogues and much of our customer contact was by telephone. Of course, that changed rather radically with the arrival of the internet, when we launched a website (www.wdsltd.co.uk) through which it was easy for buyers to find the exact product(s) they wanted, place an order and make payment. Importantly, we also made sure that the website promoted our technical support and invited people to use it.

Realising that much of our business was now conducted on-line, about three years ago we set out to make our website as user-friendly as possible for international visitors. We bought up fifty or so national domain names and launched new sites using the appropriate local language. We also tweaked the sites to reflect local cultures, for instance choosing favoured colour schemes imagery and graphics, acknowledging local traditions and culture, etc.

We set up banking arrangements so that we could accept payment in Sterling, Euros, US Dollars, and committed to adding more currencies as required. Additionally, we have an Alipay currency converter account, so that customers can pay in their preferred currency.

We now have national websites that cover countries in the EU and Eastern Europe; Dubai, the UAE, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, India and its neighbours, China and the rapidly developing nations of the Far East, North and South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. There are a few countries we do not serve, mainly those where there is an official embargo in place and those that do not have reliable courier services.

There was an almost immediate response to practically every new national site. In most cases the level of business they generate has grown steadily over time and we have been happy for this to happen organically, letting word-of-mouth be our main engine for growth.

Overseas orders are treated in exactly the same way as domestic ones and picked the same day (except those arriving very late). There may be some additional time required to complete customs requirements for orders going beyond the EU, but we have become pretty efficient at this with practise. We may also need to set up arrangements with a local courier for first orders or deal with other details, but the objective is always to offer the same service no matter where the client is located.

It is notable that all our product ranges have benefited approximately equally from international exposure; there seems to be no technical or regional variation.

The conclusion we can draw from this is that rapid delivery of quality parts is essential to engineers all over the world. WDS has many years experience of ensuring this need is met and we therefore expect to see continuing growth in our export activities over the medium and long term.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Gray
WDS Component Parts Limited
Richardshaw Road
Grangefield Industrial Estate
Pudsey Leeds
LS28 6LE 
Tel:  +44 (0)113 2909852
Fax:  +44 (0)845 601 1173
Email: SGray@wdsltd.co.uk
Web:  www.wdsltd.co.uk
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