E-commerce has clearly transformed the potential global reach for fashion brands. But simply making this season’s stock available online in a new market is not going to deliver much incremental value. 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 E-commerce offer; 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, traditional expansion strategies lack both the agility and responsiveness required in a fast changing global marketplace – there has to be a better way to rapidly maximise the global opportunity, while minimising both cost and risk.
To build strong brand awareness in a country that has previously had no exposure can take months, even years. Traditional campaigns also, by default, lack focus; so timing is key. In a market that can be transformed virtually overnight by a celebrity endorsement on social media, the speed of response is vital. Yet, while the rise of the global digital consumer has transformed the ease with which brands can reach new target markets in theory, in practice the challenge of raising brand awareness and building a market still remains. The time spent creating a market represents a significant lost sales opportunity.
Without insight into the market, or strong links to key retailers, many brands struggle to quickly gain any traction in a new geography, irrespective of the level of investment. For any brand, the chance to forge a strong relationship with leading retailers can transform that speed of expansion. The problem is, of course, that retailers are wary of over extending their portfolios, fearing unsold stock and the dilution of the overall customer offer. While a strong brand/retailer relationship can deliver measurable value to both, the challenge is to get the right relationship – quickly.
Growing numbers of brands are now exploring the evolution in global logistics. Rather than investing in local marketing, brands can become part of a real time network of retailers that supplements the traditional wholesale model. By enabling the retailer to extend the range on offer without the need to invest in additional stock up front, a brand has the chance to make a significant noise in a new market from day one. Suddenly, the retailer can offer a far bigger subset of the overall range.
The power of E-commerce to reach new, international markets is clear. The key is to find a way to reach those markets and leverage that massive global demand quickly, securely and without incurring untenable costs. Combining fast track access to new markets with insight into local customer expectations and the chance to refine the product mix on the fly based on up to the moment sales data fundamentally changes the model.
With Anatwine, brands can now take the risk out of global expansion – and achieve a significant reward.