International expansion is a key strategy for the majority of leading UK fashion brands. But with an increasingly volatile global market, determining how and where to make that international investment is both a challenge and a potential business hazard; opening a new flagship store can cost millions, while retailers are wary of adding too many brands or too much stock to their portfolios. Whatever approach adopted, a brand’s global expansion has traditionally been slow, expensive and high risk. Yet the opportunities internationally are compelling. So what’s the option?
Ultimately, brands need a way to be far more agile, to move in and out of new geographies without overhead or risk, and the evolution in global logistics is supporting a completely new – and risk-free – approach. Brands now have the opportunity to leverage a real-time network that delivers access to the top retailers in each geography and demographic.
Using this model, retailers have direct access to each brand’s stock, underpinned by a standardised and guaranteed customer experience. This real-time network supplements the existing wholesale model, enabling the retailer to extend the range on offer without the inherent risk associated with investing in significant additional stock up front. 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 range. This improves the customer experience and enables the brand to build its reputation and rapidly increase product sales from day one.
Of course, retailers will not typically offer the entire range for every brand. However, with real-time analytics, the retailer has a head start in determining the best product mix for its customer base. For example, comparing the brand’s sales in similar countries or across a similar demographic mix, in conjunction with a brand’s top selling products, can provide good insight into which products should be made available immediately. The retailer can then continually track performance and use analytics to refine, expand or reduce the range at will.
For brands, the extension of the current model to incorporate real-time distribution fundamentally changes the global expansion model. Brands already wholesaling to retailers can build on the relationship by significantly extending the product range on offer, while brands looking to break into a new market can do so without the overheads.
By extending the current model, brands can experience a degree of immunity to global volatility; moving in and out of markets without incurring additional costs and maximising the economic strength in different countries at different times. The challenge of determining which geographic area to prioritise has gone: the vision of international success can now be realised to deliver significant incremental sales across the world without any of the attendant cost or risk.
So, with no harm in dreaming big, where would international expansion lead your business? Let us know @AnatwineGroup.