The results of the UK's recent Brexit referendum continue to send shockwaves throughout global business. Longtime pro-Brexit leaders are jumping ship. Many Britons are second-guessing their Leave votes. The Sterling Pound is currently worth less than it was in 1985. The yield on 10-year government bonds dropped below 1% for the first time ever. Yields on U.S. and Japanese government bonds hit record lows as well.
With David Cameron's recent announcement to step down as Prime Minister in the upcoming months, his job is now up for grabs. The three candidates running to replace Cameron have promised to carry out the will of the voters and activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which will formally begin the UK's / EU divorce proceedings. Analysts say UK's Parliament won't likely stop this train from leaving the station, either.
Despite some PM candidates' interest in conducting talks with EU officials about a future UK / EU relationship prior to activating Article 50, there's no love lost among EU leaders. No talks about the future until Article 50 is triggered, they say. These ripples, and many more, represent ingredients in an ever-growing recipe for uncertainty and possible outright disaster. Is there any good news for UK-based manufacturers?
Most analysts are examining the Brexit's long-term economic impact, but companies like MotionPoint Corporation, which provides globalization solutions for brands around the world, have been looking at the short-term challenges and opportunities. Analysis suggests that short-term windfalls await manufacturers, particularly those that embrace selling and marketing through online channels.
Obviously, the Brexit's most immediate and visible impact has been on the value of the Pound. Many financial analysts believe the Pound's depreciation will continue. Fluctuating change will persist for several months and it is believed that its value will stabilize to around 1.4 USD per GBP in about a year.
This year of devaluation poses intriguing possibilities for UK manufacturers. Due to the exchange rate now and in the short-term, these companies can sell their products to overseas consumers at comparatively cheaper prices.
These cheaper exports will prove very attractive to global buyers, who'll see a much greater bang for their buck or other local currency. This increased value often leads to supercharged conversions, reported sales and revenue. Indeed, savvy UK manufacturers will likely see more sales in the near future than in months past.
They can further maximize profits by using components from domestic sources. As the Pound depreciates, imported materials will increase in price. And thanks to those increased sales, expect local competition to rise, which should boost UK production.
Remember, however, that such short-term success hinges on UK companies expanding into continental markets—and they'd better do it fast. We've found the most efficient way to do this is through online channels. By serving continental markets with websites in those markets' languages of choice, UK manufacturers can really move the needle on their exports.
Launching translated sites to attract and serve continental European customers can be done quite quickly. The best website localization solutions can deploy fully-operational, technically-complex translated sites in about a month. These solutions are affordable, too. By moving fast to seize the current benefits of current exchange rates, UK manufacturers are exposed to far less risk than if they launched new brick-and-mortar sales locations in continental markets, where costs are much higher.
A quick word of warning. The Brexit has greatly, and perhaps rightly, alienated many EU nations and European residents—nobody likes being dumped, after all. This could impact consumer trust on the continent for UK-based businesses.
There are ways to mitigate this risk, especially through those translated websites catering to local consumers. Websites can present customized content for certain markets, or even regions within markets, using online geo-location technologies and other tactics. This customized content can be used to minimize the "Britishness" of a company's site by using authentic, regionally-preferred translations that create lean-in with shoppers. Further, this customization tactic can be used to create and maintain on-site trust campaigns, to prevent the alienation of customers. We've found companies achieve an average 50% increase in conversion rates when they publish such content customizations on their international sites.
Brexit will continue to dominate headlines within the business press and beyond—and it'll be generating more than enough uncertainty in the upcoming years. However, at least in the short term, UK-based manufacturers have a chance to shine, and sell more to continental consumers, with localized websites.
About the Author
Charles Whiteman is senior vice president of client services at MotionPoint Corporation, a prominent enterprise localization platform. He may be reached at [email protected].