Export Knowhow

Six tips for successfully exporting to Poland

What do Swiss exporters need in order for a successful launch in Poland? Katalin Dreher-Hajnal, Senior Consultant for Eastern Europe at Switzerland Global Enterprise, offers six solid tips. 

Warsaw as one of the economic centers in Poland
Warsaw as one of the economic centers in Poland

1. Market analysis as a foundation

The Polish economy is doing well – very well. In 2018, Poland attained a growth rate of 5.1%, its highest since 2007, and this sustained growth presents good trading opportunities for Swiss exporters. “The country hasn’t had a recession for twenty years – to the contrary. Average economic growth over this period has been 3.9%”, says Katalin Dreher-Hajnal. For Swiss companies, this represents a valuable basis for tapping into this market, and companies have been quick to see the potential. Goods exports have increased by almost 30% in the last five years alone. Nevertheless, the basis for any export business is a thorough market analysis. “Companies have to understand how their sector functions in the target market, who are the key players, and how trends are developing. Equally important is an overview of the competitive situation and the competitors. After all, there are frequently local competitors in action that Swiss companies are unaware of, since they don’t operate internationally. It’s important to get to know their products, prices and sales structures better. To support Swiss and Liechtenstein SMEs in this process, we at Switzerland Global Enterprise create market analyses tailored to their needs. Further information

2. Swiss quality as a sales argument

An undisputed advantage for Swiss companies in Poland is product origin. “A study by the Polish-Swiss Chamber of Commerce recently revealed that ‘Swissness’ is still considered a valuable trademark in the eastern European country. Swiss companies are considered particularly reliable, and the Poles are willing to pay 5% to 15% more for our products.” According to Katalin Dreher-Hajnal, this applies particularly to luxury goods such as watches. Yet this appreciation also comes with obligations: “Customers have no patience when there are delivery or quality problems with Swiss products. The quality and service must always be of the highest level.”

3. “dzie? dobry” – get to know Polish culture 

In addition to the economically relevant factors, exporters also need to understand the culture as well as the demographics and geography of Poland. In geographical terms, the country is seven times bigger than Switzerland, and it has around five times the population. The economic centers are Warsaw, Pozna?, Wroc?aw, Gdansk, Kraków and Katowice. Regardless of the city, however: “Poles are very hard-working, approachable, sincere people. It’s a pleasure to do business with them”, says Katalin Dreher-Hajnal, speaking from experience. “Now and again, however, I sense they still have a hierarchical mindset and business partners from Switzerland are ranked highly per se. That’s something Swiss companies should take into account when doing business there. At the same time, though, I am also noticing how a young generation of entrepreneurs with a new awareness is developing. That’s great to see.” Lots of people also speak English and some speak German. “Learning Polish is obviously an advantage, however. Even though they speak other languages, Polish people like to do business in their mother tongue.” Knowledge of basic phrases like “dobry dzie?” – which means “hello” or “good day” – therefore won’t be sufficient for long-term success locally. For this, a local representative – whether a distribution partner or local employee – is essential. 

4. The right business partner to open the door

For many Swiss companies, it’s often worthwhile working with a local business partner on the ground. They speak the language, know local conditions, have their own network, and can thus optimally represent a Swiss company. Companies that want to participate in public calls for tender are particularly dependent on having a Polish business partner. “Finding the right business partner, however, is one of the greatest challenges in the internationalization process.” The success or failure of a project can hinge on this choice. “One of our core competences is the hunt for the right business partner abroad. We are happy to help Swiss and Liechtenstein exporters find the right contacts in Poland.” Further information  

When there is positive exchange, when both parties have the same vision and there’s a good feeling, that’s when the right partnership has been found.

5. Invest time in business connections 

As soon as a potential business partner has been found, multiple meetings are required for the two sides to get to know each other and discuss possible goals. “When there is a positive exchange, when both parties have the same vision and there’s a good feeling, that’s when the right partnership has been found.” This relationship must be cultivated actively. “Part of this will be an introduction to the company culture, regular training sessions and social occasions such as shared dinners or visits to cultural events.” Close business connections are important in Poland.

For companies that want to establish a subsidiary in Poland, there is a handbook telling Swiss firms how to set up a limited liability company. The publication contains the following information:

  • Overview of the legal forms of a company under Polish law
  • Requirements for the foundation of a limited liability company
  • The foundation process
  • Costs of forming a company

Go to handbook

6. Making use of business opportunities

Alongside a smart export strategy, you also need good business opportunities in the target country – and there are plenty of them in Poland. “There are business opportunities in practically all sectors”, says Katalin Dreher-Hajnal. “Swiss companies that develop machinery, conveyor belts or packaging solutions are much in demand. But also in food processing, however, as well as the cleantech sector, the automotive industry, or timber processing, Poland represents an attractive export country.” Added to this is the fact that Poland is one of the biggest recipients of development funds from the European Union, which is further stimulating the economy. Over the last few years, for example, new motorways have been built, rail systems expanded and programs launched to reduce smog in the cities.

Exporting to Poland

Would you like to sound out your business opportunities in Poland without obligation? Get in touch with Katalin Dreher-Hajnal to discuss your export project today. At Switzerland Global Enterprise, we offer you initial free country consultations, prepare more detailed market and competition analyses according to your needs, support you in your search for the right business partner, and inform you about legal regulations.

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