Tools & Templates

Prepare your product for export

In order to sell your product on the foreign market you've decided on it is important to adapt your product to the market(s) you wish to sell it on. Here, you have to be aware of the county’s rules, conditions and preferences.

To do this you need, besides knowledge about your product, a thorough knowledge about the characteristics of each chosen market. Market analysis, connections to foreign partners, customers and buyers can give you a good indication of which products that sell and where. Before any sale is possible, you may have to change your product to live up to the taste, needs or official legal demands of the buyer.

To which degree you are willing to alter your product is an important discussion. Some exporters sell without changing their products noticeably. Others change their products to fit all markets. It's important that you conduct a thorough examination and choose the strategy that is right for the company.

If your company manufacture a lot of different products or several different variations of the same product, start exporting the product that needs the least amount of modification.

Adapting the product

To successfully penetrate a foreign market, you may need to modify your product to meet official demands, rules, geographical and climatic circumstances, customer preferences or standards of living. It may also be necessary to optimize the product for shipment or compensate for technical or design standards.

It is also important to take local traditions, religious differences or how your target group use their spare time into consideration. How a product feels, tastes or looks can also have significance for your product’s success.

To justify this adaption the potential market must be big enough to cover the expenses of the alternations. Therefore, you should asses what the adaptions are going to cost and – even though it may be difficult – assess if the expected profit covers these investments.

The choice of adaption/no adaption and to which degree is also dependent on your involvement in the market. If you expect to export to specific markets for a longer period of time, larger adaptions are justified.

Development and redesign

Besides changes in relation to cultural and consumer preferences you have to be aware of the fact that even fundamental parts of your product may have to change. For instance, electrical standards or, if you are exporting to the USA, units for measuring  will probably have to be converted.

Branding, labeling and packaging

Beside the product itself, it's also important to consider if the packaging fits your new market. In this case, consider the following:

  • Is an international label important for advertising or differentiating your product? Or the opposite; should you instead focus on local labeling?
  • Is the packaging’s colors offensive to your customers? For instance certain colors are associated with death in some countries.
  • Are you capable of manufacturing labels and packaging in the local language?
  • Are there any demands on what information the packaging must contain? For instance ingredients and place of production.
  • Is weight and other units of measure indicated in the local language?


Depending on the type of product you are exporting, it can be important to consider the process of installation. Is it necessary to send engineers or technicians along to install the product? In that case: Try to minimize the time it takes to complete the assignment. You could do this by assembling or testing the product before shipping it or by training local partners in performing this service.


You should consider which warrantee you offer on your product, since the warrantee means that the buyer expects a certain level of performance and guarantee. What level your customers expect is different from country to country and depends on how developed the country is, its level of competition, local manufacturing standards, etc.


Consider the following:

  • Which needs are my product covering abroad?

  • What products should we offer abroad?

  • Are we adapting an existing product or developing a new one for the export market?

  • What characteristics should our product have? Consider design, color, size, packaging, labels, logo, and warrantees. How important are language and cultural differences?

  • What service is necessary on the foreign market? In relation to both before and after the sale? Warrantee? Spare parts?

  • Are your options for service and repairing sufficient?