As we release an exclusive report on how prepared the channel actually is to exit the EU, check out the top five pieces of advice our panel shared to ensure you are in a strong position
In conjunction with a panel discussion on getting ready for Brexit, CRN questioned over 300 resellers to discover if they were Brexit ready. The results were fairly interesting.In total, 69 per cent of respondents said they would be ready come 1 January, but 58 per cent said they still needed more information from vendors and distributors. In addition and perhaps unsurprisingly, 86 per cent of respondents had been more concerned about Covid in 2020 than Brexit.
Included in the report are top takeaway comments from our experienced Brexit panel, which you can view here.Sitting on the panel were: Alex Tatham, Westcoast managing director, Sue Keywood customer service and operations manager at Westcoast, Dionne Redpath sales and branch network director at Europa Worldwide, Pat Kickham, joint managing director of Datapac and Nigel Dunn, managing director EMEA North at Jabra.
As a teaser, here are the top five takeaway/action points arising from the panel and research.
1. Everybody in the channel needs to take responsibility for Brexit - it is not just up to vendors and distributors to push the agenda.
Datapac's Kickham said: "There is a huge reliance on people in distribution and vendors, but all responsibility cannot be held at manufacturer and distributor level, it has to be held at the partner level too."
Westcoast's Keywood agreed: "We have been working on this for two years. Making sure we have gone through the process to make sure everything is covered from commodity codes to licences, and making sure we are aligned with each vendor and each country [we operate in].
"But it is not just down to us, it is down to the whole team - vendors, freight forwarders and customers as well to all take responsibility."
The panel agreed that appointing a dedicated Brexit go-to expert within a team is the best way to keep on top of developments and ensure the business is compliant with all the regulations
2. Don't ‘kick the can down the road' - start getting paperwork and everything in order now.
Although there will be a grace period in the first few months of next year to sort out the massive backlog of paperwork, businesses mustn't leave anything to chance.
Westcoast's Tatham said: "Don't kick that can. The most important thing is that we keep business moving as smoothly as possbile. We want to make sure all resellers keep going and are as agile as they can be. There is no question things will move and change after 1 January. It may only be a deadline but things will keep going."
Europa Worldwide's Redpath added: "There is not a great deal of time left - get to grips, don't stick your head in the sand - do your homework, make sure your business is ready, your customers are ready and your suppliers are ready to do the basics."
3. Shipping goods into Europe from 1 January will require more paperwork and preparation
Europa Worldwide's Redpath said: "Unfortunately the easement that has been given by the UK government doesn't exist for goods travelling from the UK into Europe," she explained. "This means that from 1 January when you ship your goods into Europe you will have to have an export declaration and a corresponding import declaration. That will be payable on arrival in the destination country and subject to who is responsible. Subject to deal or no deal, duty could also be payable on that."
She added there is still time to get documentation in order and work out who will handle the process, but urged everyone affected to make it a priority if they have not already done so.
4. Do everything you can to keep your European customer base
Many UK channel firms with European customers expressed concerns that they would lose those customers in 2021, but Redpath urged them to get aggressive.
"Do everything you conceivably can to make sure they keep buying that product from your business - don't give them an opportunity to go and buy a comparable product from a European-based business."
She added this could include looking at payment terms and making the whole process as simple as possible.
5. Ask for advice if needed and don't worry about things you can't control, focus on things you can control. Above all, don't panic
The panel agreed that doing as much due diligence before the deadline is vital and to speak to peers and suppliers to keep confusion to a minimum.
Jabra's Dunn said the key thing for resellers was to ask for help if needed and not to focus on anything out of their control.
"There are various knowns you have with Brexit and lots of info to be gathered from vendors and distributors that is widely available," he said. "Go and look at it and stop worrying about things we can't control. At some point in the future we will all have to be agile to handle this."
Keywood agreed. "Ask. Just ask your suppliers and keep in contact with them. Don't take anything for granted."