Suzanne Southard started Texas Trading in Dallas last fall, exporting clothing, accessories, sports equipment and snack foods to finicky Swedish buyers. In just a few months, her homebased company had racked up sales of $30,000. If you're thinking of following in 36-year-old Southard's footsteps and exporting to Sweden, keep the following information in mind:
Sweden is an advanced, industrialized country whose imports and exports, in recent years, have comprised two-thirds of its gross domestic product. The third-largest country in Europe, it's generally thought of as a low-turmoil, superior export market. What's more, Swedes enjoy a high standard of living and can afford to purchase high-end, high-quality products.
Among the benefits of exporting to Sweden: The country has comparatively reasonable tariff rates and the second-lowest corporate tax rate in Europe. It's an open market and a member of the European Union; as such, it provides access to 370 million consumers. Some business owners use Sweden as a gateway to emerging Baltic markets. However, a value-added tax is added to the cost of your product when it reaches the consumer; keep this in mind when pricing your product.
Swedish export experts say hot markets for entrepreneurs include computers and software, sporting goods (especially ski, hockey, ice skating, golf and equestrian equipment), medical equipment, automotive parts and services, and food items (especially snack foods).
Swedish tastes in packaging tend to run along minimalist lines. Swedes are very environmentally conscious, so be conservation-minded when designing packaging, and don't use too much plastic. "The simpler the packaging, the better," says Richard Koehler, president of Houston-based IKR Corp., an international marketing consultancy. Not only will Swedish consumers appreciate your minimal packaging, but it will help lower shipping costs, too.