Competitive horizon

Strategic Direction

ISSN: 0258-0543

Article publication date: 12 January 2015



(2015), "Competitive horizon", Strategic Direction, Vol. 31 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Competitive horizon

Article Type: Competitive horizon From: Strategic Direction, Volume 31, Issue 1

UK businesses set to increase international presence

Research carried out by Citrix and YouGov of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the UK revealed a growing expectation of trading internationally by 2016. In total, 60 per cent of the 2,000 businesses questioned anticipate this development. An increase in revenues from overseas trading was expected by 28 per cent of respondents. The report, as published by, cites removal of barriers to international trade as a key reason for these predictions. Ongoing technological enhancements and the creation of global logistics networks are particularly relevant in this respect. Around half of the companies surveyed use their Web sites and online marketplaces to secure sales abroad. The research indicated that confidence in securing international growth was highest among firms operating within technology and marketing-related industries. Another indication was that younger entrepreneurs are more willing than their older counterparts to venture into the unknown territories that overseas markets constitute. International partners are seen as important to future growth and many companies have already established a trading relationship with China, India, Russia, South America and Pacific Rim nations.

Optimism rises for chemical industry in Poland

Sizeable investment and sector consolidation are key to the anticipated growth in Poland’s chemical industry, a report published by claims. Another significant development is the merger and acquisition activities, involving leading industry players. These favorable conditions provide significant encouragement, especially given the esteem in which Polish chemicals are held within various other nations. Chemicals are one of the country’s biggest export segments, with only electronics and mechanical machinery boasting a larger output. Exports are growing year-on-year and have reached €20.2 billion in 2013. The foundation is provided by petrochemicals and base chemicals, while recovery in the automotive sector has helped increase demand for chemical products. Scope likewise exists in the plastics industry. Future export performance is likely to depend on the economy in the European Union, a major market for the sector. The report also notes that relations between Russia and Ukraine and the pending Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement are additional important factors.

The importance of Web site usability

An article published by points out the importance of Web site usability to attract and retain customers. Web sites have become increasingly sophisticated and firms invest heavily in software, tools and visual appeal. However, many fail to ensure that their site is easy for customers to use. It is imperative that users can navigate the site effortlessly to access the information they require. Organizing information and key functions in a logical manner helps in this respect. Enabling different user types to move round different site areas using as few mouse clicks as possible will create the necessary positive impression. Usability should also focus on maximizing the attractiveness of product and services. Graphical design is important, but it should not be prioritized over functionality. This includes making the log-in process simple and providing the customer with different safe payment options. A focus on usability can help increase user trust in the Web site. But, if the experience of visiting a site is ultimately not a positive one, the likelihood exists that customers will not return.

Make it personal

Consumer demand for greater personalization of products and services is set to soar over the next five years. A study conducted by Adobe concluded that this trend will impact on both online and conventional business formats. It claims that customizing products can help firms to attract new customers and retain existing ones. This desire for personalization is attributed to the growing emphasis on expressing individuality that has been encouraged by social media. As reported by, the emergence of smartphones is considered another contributory factor. One consequence of these developments is a huge increase in the number of photographs being taken. In New Zealand, this has driven growth in the photographic printing market as consumers seek to turn their personalized images into tangible products. The article points out that this demand for customized offerings is growing in a diverse range of product and service categories.

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