Business planning, Growth, How I did it

Use “Australianism” to crack US market, exporter says

Michelle Hammond /

Adelaide-based export business Aussie Inc. says start-ups that do business in the United States can use their “Australianism” to gain a competitive edge, but must ensure they can deliver.

 

Founded by Todd Miller in 2009, Aussie Inc. helps Australian companies get their products into the US retail market by providing assistance throughout all aspects of the export chain.

 

Aussie Inc. recently signed a major deal with US wholesale grocery distributor C&S Wholesale, which will see a range of Australian products introduced into 12,000 US stores.

 

According to Miller, C&S Wholesale is the largest wholesale grocery distributor in North America, describing it as the Australian equivalent of Metcash.

 

“The deal itself – I’ve been working on that for about 16 months. One of my products, Total Fresh dishwasher deodoriser, effectively got us over the line,” Miller says.

 

“I pitched to one retailer, which wanted to buy the product through their wholesale distributor, C&S.”

 

“I then had to go out and pitch to all of their retailers – they normally don’t take the word of one retailer. They need better than a 75% approval rate.”

 

“C&S doesn’t have a sales force. As such, it was just myself and my team pitching. That process took the better part of eight months.”

 

“We had to find the retailers, chase them down, meet and greet, and pitch. It’s been a fair bit of time in the making – dealing with America is a slow, sometimes frustrating, annoying process.”

 

The first product Miller ever introduced to the US was a portable dog kennel. He says he looks for products that meet a need or fill a gap in the market.

 

However, he adjusts the products to suit American consumers, including the spelling, any cultural references, the look of the product, and FDAs.

 

“A lot of work goes into product development for the US before we go there… From taking a product on to getting it to market, I would say there’s a two to four-year timeframe before you see it on the shelves,” he says.

 

With regard to pitching to American companies, Miller says they key is to be yourself, although he does make a few suggestions.

 

“Americans have a real love for Australia and Australians. You’ve got that edge over an American sales rep… Use the Australianism – that’s the edge that you have,” he says.

 

“The other thing you need to be prepared for is that you need to make sure you’ve got the infrastructure and the backend to deliver – you need to have all your ducks in a row.”

 

“If you say you can do something, you have to do it. In a nutshell, under-promise and over-deliver.”

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