5 top tips for accessing international markets
“There is a global community of crafters. We made the decision right from the start that we could service that community around the world.”
At the second of O2’s #ScaleUpSeries events, presented in partnership with Enterprise Nation, Nigel Whiteoak, one of the founders of Lovecrafts, shared his tips and practical advice for scale up success.
One of the keys to Lovecraft’s rapid growth has been its ability to access international markets, including the US, Australia and Germany. Here are Nigel’s five top tips for growing businesses with global aspirations.
1. Get it right from day one
If you have an internet business there is no reason not to give international customers access to your goods or services from the first day. Lovecrafts considered itself an international company from the start, even though its main business at launch came from the UK.
2. Put the right technology in place
Lovecrafts may sell wool and crafting materials, but it is a tech enabled business. The company can sell products all around the world because it has a website that can be served up in multiple languages, and can show stock available in different locations for different customers, depending on where they are based.
As demand in the US and Australia grew, Lovecrafts developed dedicated websites for these markets, allowing them to display local prices and stock availability, and also to showcase products in their appropriate seasons.
They use technology in their marketing as well, analysing and bidding on keywords and terms to drive different audiences to their local site. In fact, technology is embedded in every business process, regardless of location, from recruitment through to marketing, sales and operations.
3. Get your priorities right
When you start to look at the potential of overseas markets it can be challenging to decide where to focus your resources. Lovecrafts launched in the UK, so it made sense to prioritise other English speaking markets like the USA and Australia. The USA in particular has a huge crafting culture, with several multi billion dollar craft retailers.
Although Germany is arguably Europe’s strongest crafting marketplace, it was only after Lovecrafts had an established customer base in the USA and Australia that the company turned its attention there.
If you try to take on the whole world then you risk spreading your resources too thinly. Prioritise your effort, and focus your attention on the most lucrative markets first.
4. Understand your market
You need to identify cultural differences, and recognise that your potential customers in international markets may differ from your existing customers. Ask yourself how are they different? Why are they different? What do they want? What are they asking for? You need to be curious, recognising that what works well at home might not work at all in another country.
“By the time we entered the US market, we already had a contingent of loyal customers who liked our brand. Without them, establishing our US business would have been much more risky.”
Understanding the customers in another territory might mean attending craft fairs and trade shows, meeting suppliers or conducting surveys or other research. Whatever you do, you need to understand the potential customers in each territory as well as your own, and develop products and services specifically with those customers in mind.
5. Infrastructure and logistics
Although Lovecrafts was able to service its loyal US customer base from the UK, it took the acquisition of a US business in administration to cement its US business. Lovecraft bought the company’s assets, including a database of existing customers, some unsold stock and perhaps most importantly, the trading relationships with local suppliers.
The acquisition enabled Lovecrafts to supply US products from a US warehouse, employing local staff. Although the leadership team for the US business was based in the UK during the launch phase, it has since moved to New York.
Supplying an overseas market from a single location can only take you so far. The cost of freight and the speed of delivery can hold you back. But once you’ve seen growth in a particular market, and have got a foothold and some loyal, repeat business, it’s worth considering putting the infrastructure and logistics in place to service that territory more effectively.
A message from O2 Business:
This was the second of five #ScaleUpSeries events, which we have launched with Enterprise Nation. Our next event features Dhiraj Mukherjee, founder of Shazam, on Monday 9 July in London. Tickets are going fast so don’t miss your chance to learn from an entrepreneur who has been there, done it and achieved global scale up success. You can buy your tickets by clicking here. Alternatively, click here to review the other #ScaleUpSeries events on throughout the year.
Events like these are just one of the ways we can support your business growth ambitions. We’d love to hear from you and discuss the ways we could support your business even further. Get in touch today.