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Just how complicated is it dealing with companies overseas?

Western Union Business Solutions

This article is part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Raise the BAR (Business Adaptability & Resilience) Campaign, sponsored by Western Union Business Solutions. For more campaign content click here. This campaign provides Chamber members with a platform to share learning and inspiration on this agenda. All views and opinions expressed below are those of the author only. 

By Christina Wadlow, Head of Partnerships at Western Union Business Solutions

Many small and medium-sized businesses are involved in international trade. Just how complicated is it dealing with companies overseas?

What are the challenges facing companies that deal internationally?

As SMEs expand, they can often find themselves dealing with overseas suppliers or customers for the first time. Some may start to import stock to sell in the home market, or to use in the manufacturing process. Others find they have hit on a winning formula to sell their goods in markets all over the world. Whether you are importing flowers from the Netherlands or exporting shortbread to China, developing business relationships outside the UK is a big step, and it can seem daunting. There can be language and cultural barriers to overcome, and there is the challenge of making or receiving payments through unfamiliar systems and in foreign currencies.

Choosing the right supplier

The first time they need to make an international payment, and while the transactions are few and far between, many SMEs simply turn to their bank. As payments become more frequent however, it often pays to go to a specialist foreign exchange supplier, where the transactions will be in the hands of experts who really understand foreign exchange and overseas banking systems. Their knowledge and experience can make payments quicker and smoother. For example, they will help to ensure the fastest possible routing is identified. They will also be on hand with advice and guidance, so their customers can make informed decisions and be fully in control.

The challenges of large volume transactions

Some companies find they need to make thousands of international transactions each month. These might be payments to suppliers or they could be the payroll for an international workforce. When this is the case, it pays to use a supplier with a system that can bulk load the transactions. This means that once everything is set up, just one instruction is needed to make multiple payments happen just when they are needed. It saves a huge amount of time and money compared with making each payment individually.

Keeping it cost effective

Making large numbers of transactions is a sign that a business is thriving. But if your payments provider charges per transaction, the fees, which can be as high as £25 per payment, can soon add up to eye-watering levels. Many specialist suppliers offer low-cost or fee-free payments to help keep costs down

Knowledge is power

Of course, whether your payments and receipts are all in one currency or if you are dealing with multiple countries and currencies around the world, having access to real-time information is essential.

With most FX suppliers you will have access to reports and statements. To keep your finger on the pulse, these need to be available online and in real time so you know where a payment is in the system and when it arrives. Tracking payments is only half the story however. Management information should allow you to interrogate the data, identify trends and produce meaningful reports that help you run your business.

Western Union Business Solutions – putting SMEs in control of their international transactions

Western Union can service over one hundred and thirty currencies in two hundred countries / territories, with competitive spot rates, optimal routing and low cost transfers as well as a globally leading online platform which not only facilitates online payments and bulk upload but will also give real time twenty-four hour access.

With a highly qualified team of currency experts and a service tailored specifically to the needs of SMEs, they help to protect the profits of international businesses from currency fluctuations, with a range of tools and strategies. With their wide range of foreign exchange services, actionable analysis and decision support tools, they give SMEs more transparency and control over their foreign exchange and international payments.

The information contained within this article does not constitute financial advice or a financial recommendation, is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.

This information has been prepared solely for informational purposes and does not in any way create any binding obligations on either party. Relations between you and WUIB shall be governed by the applicable terms and conditions. No representations, warranties or conditions of any kind, express or implied, are made here.