Sunday , May 22 2022

Five-Step-Plan to Scale your Trading Business

By Philippe Theunissen

Many trading companies wrestle with the question how to grow their business to the next level. How to go from 5 to 20 people, or how to triple the revenue in the coming three years?

I’ve worked together with many sourcing and trading companies, from small to big, and slow to fast. In those year, I discovered a pattern that the faster growing or the bigger trading companies follow.

This pattern translates in fact into a Five Step Plan that you can apply to speed up the growth of your own trading company as well.

Let’s have a look at these five steps:

Step 1: Shift from a Project Based to Catalog Based business
Make sure that all the products and suppliers you find for your customers are centrally stored and easily accessible. In this way, you create a product catalog based on the results of all the custom projects from your customers. Make sure to add product images to your product catalog. Reuse this product catalog in your sales activities. Sell what you already have, so that you leverage the time and energy you have spent in previous sourcing projects. By reselling your existing products, you gain better understanding of products and their potential.

Step 2: Narrow down and specialize in your best category
As soon as you actively promote and sell products from your product catalog, analyze what categories are selling best and what products have the best margins. Focus on making these best products even better in terms of sales and margin. Search for complementary products that make you sell your best products even better. A small but well selling collection is born.

Step 3: Create your own brand for the best-selling collection
Get yourself a good designer or brand agency to create a nice brand for your best-selling collection. Make sure the brand name, logo, and style resonate well with the price and quality of your products. Produce your own packaging and imprint your logo on your products. Also create point-of-sales material like a shelf display or promotion board to help your customers sell your brand better. Then, present your branded products in a nicely coordinated way to your customers that they can purchase as a whole collection.

Step 4: Create attractive MOQ’s for your brand
Make sure that you offer small minimum order quantities for your products, so that as many distributors and customers can try out your branded products. You can solve the MOQ problem by holding some strategic stock yourself or work together with your best distributors as your stock keepers. Also offer order consolidation to your customers, allowing them to place small orders that you consolidate into a larger order meeting the MOQ’s.

Step 5: Expand your brand into multiple countries via distributors
Expand your presence throughout the world by building up your distributor network. Create a list of countries, states or large cities where you want to be. Contact distributors in these regions and share your catalog with them. The attractive MOQ’s allow them to try out your brand easily. Make deals with distributors to give some years of exclusivity to them if they develop the market for you with dedicated marketing and sales activities. Include a fixed marketing budget in these exclusivity agreements.

Path to Fast Growth
Reaching the situation where your own brand is available in multiple countries with attractive MOQ’s, and distributors that are promoting your brand, be prepared that you see some markets responding very well to your brand. This will further accelerate your growth!

Crucial Success Factor
The crucial success factor for a quick and successful realization of this Five-Step-Plan is being fast and efficient. This means having good processes implemented via good IT systems that allows you to optimize your sourcing and sales processes and have automated communication.

With these basics set right, you can take quick action to find out quickly what and where the opportunities are, and grow your trading business big.

Good luck!


Philippe Theunissen - ImagePhilippe Theunissen

CEO at 21Brains Ltd.

Shanghai, China

“Opportunity arises for the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur)

Dutch entrepreneur, living in Shanghai, with a background in artificial intelligence and management. With 21Brains, I am combining my passion for ‘trade’ and ‘business software’ together in the sourcing and B2B sales software we offer. I closely work together with sourcing teams and traders from the biggest trading houses and retailers to the young and entrepreneurial trading startups. Get excited when hearing about all the trade opportunities that are being pursued and love to help realizing these opportunities by providing sourcing and trading teams with the right tools to be more efficient. Love to run and play squash. In my spare time, I write thrillers.

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