Trade Efficiency: Key Role of Business Information

Article excerpt

Relevant business information is an essential element in international trade operations. An overview of the types required.

The importance of international markets is no longer confined to larger firms. For millions of companies all over the world, internationalization is now an imperative. At the national level as well, outward-looking and market-oriented strategies are a precondition for economic growth and development. Business information plays a key role in today's international marketing. The capacity to get the right business information to the right place at the right time and at the right price, and knowing how to use it, is a major factor influencing international trade efficiency and competitiveness.

Business Information

The development of international marketing has been closely intertwined with the rapid evolution of business information. Business information and information technology are to a large extent responsible for the emergence of global markets. They have become indispensable for the transition from a passive to an active or strategic approach towards international marketing. Business information and technology have thus become key inputs for international marketing.

The utility of business information is obvious: obtaining detailed insights into specific market requirements before full-scale production; identifying the most suitable foreign buyer rather than relying on casual contacts; knowing about import regulations or packaging requirements before goods are shipped; and finding the most competitive source for imported inputs all have a major impact on the efficiency of international trade.

The market for business information is complex and is undergoing rapid technological change. It comprises a highly differentiated array of products and services and it comes in a large variety of forms, from oral advice to online databases.

Suppliers of business information range from the company inhouse market research unit to independent information brokers and government institutions such as trade promotion organizations and statistics departments.

Demand for information

Assessing user requirements is the point of departure for any attempt to improve the availability of, and access to, business information.(1)

Business information plays an important role during the phase of market research, market selection and the preparation of an international marketing strategy, which specifies the international marketing mix in terms of target markets, products, prices, logistics, distribution channels and promotion. During this phase specific information is required in the form of market studies; trade statistics; prices; trade regulations; product specifications; standards and quality requirements; marketing channels; commercial practices; and packaging requirements.

Access to business information on trade opportunities and contact data on foreign buyers and suppliers is essential for winning sales contacts and establishing an international marketing channel. Information on characteristics and credit ratings of potential partner companies, in particular their financial soundness, is equally important at this point.

In general the strategic or planning part of international marketing does not replace, but prepares for, the personal contact between buyers and sellers or others in the international marketing chain. If anything, the unprecedented growth of information reinforces the importance of personal contacts.

The next two phases in the international marketing cycle are international logistics management, and distribution and promotion in the target market. Business information plays a different role in these two phases. Here, it is required mainly for monitoring and controlling the process.

Supply of information

The generation and dissemination of business information has become a large and fast-growing industry. …