In the increasingly fast moving world of fashion retail, speed and agility are business critical. When even the traditional fashion houses are offering couture online before the catwalk show, the power of ecommerce to reach new, international markets is clear.
But simply making this season’s stock available online in a new market is not going to deliver much incremental value. To expand into different territories in a way that’s quick enough, secure enough and cost-effective enough to truly leverage global demand, brands must tap into ever-evolving global logistics following these three top tips:
1. Weigh up the risks – is a strategy age old because its tried and tested or just plain out-of-date?
While ecommerce has clearly transformed the potential global reach for fashion brands, an online platform isn’t going to drive it’s own traffic; even in best case scenarios brands need to build up awareness in a totally new market, determine whether the bricks and mortar expansion should pre-empt or occur in tandem with the ecommerce offering, and quickly ascertain key market differences and synergies to inform strategy.
From the multi-million pound investment in marketing and stores to the time it takes to build brand value in each new geography and the challenges of responding to different customer experience expectations, expansion typically comes laden with risk and a hefty price tag; the first step is recognising these traditional strategies – whether online or on the high street – now lack both the agility and responsiveness required in a fast changing global marketplace.
2. Think strategically
Timing is key: the industry isn’t kind to brands that get it wrong. And yet, thanks to what is essentially a model based on guesswork, all too many still do – squandering multi-million pound marketing investments to build presence in a target country, only to see that economy fall into decline.
The differences in each market also create significant operational challenges. How can a brand identify not only the most valuable target audience but also determine how best to reach that audience in an unfamiliar environment? Furthermore, having found the customers, how can the brand gain insight into the different expectations in each country?
The time spent creating a market now simply equates to lost sales; with the evolution in global logistics, brands can leverage real-time access to the top retailers in each geography and demographic instead.
3. Become part of something bigger
For any brand, the ability to build strong relationships with the leading retailers in each new geography is compelling, and the opportunity presented by the evolution in global logistics to incorporate real-time distribution fundamentally changes the global expansion model.
Rather than investing in local marketing and brand awareness, plus local ecommerce teams, brands can become part of a real-time network of retailers around the globe, with direct access to each brand’s stock that’s underpinned by real-time analytics and a standardised and guaranteed customer experience. With no budget or warehouse constraints, a retailer can radically expand the range and offer online customers a far broader array of each brand’s product offering.
While moving away from the traditional expasnsion method might seem inherently risky, brands must strongly consider whether the real danger lies in a continued reliance upon it. By simply updating existing strategies with the incorporation of an already thriving global logistics network, brands can enter – and leave – new markets in a matter of weeks, not months or years.
When so many other facets of the industry are exploring the latest technologies and solutions to provide the optimum customer experience, maximum upsell opportunity and all around ‘wow factor’ to entice spend, brands and retailers alike are surely missing a costly trick by not investigating how global logistics could significantly increase the customer base – and at zero risk.
Chris Griffin, CEO, Anatwine
Image source: Shutterstock/kentoh