What do you use to take your fashion brand worldwide?
Exciting times. New fashion tech companies are springing up in the market with products and platforms to push your independent fashion brands worldwide. As an industry, we’re also developing smarter, more effective systems.
If you’ve never sold globally, you may be wondering what are the easiest and most efficient ways to get started. Or if turning on international shipping online is enough. The truth of it is that truly launching into international markets requires a look at everything from your operations to your communications and selling strategies. When you want your fashion brand to reach international audiences, you have to think wide and deep. How will you relate your brand to each new market?
Here are a few platforms and processes that caught our attention…
We’ve seen some cool tech out there, like an app for selling to shoppers in international markets. However, their greatest limitations are that you can’t sell in other languages. That’s where ShopShops comes in.
We’ve seen some interesting technology lately around selling to consumers in international markets. However, many of the limitations are cultural. The major shift is not towards just being able to ship globally, but being able to speak globally. This is where China-based ShopShops steps in to bridge the gap.
It too allows independent fashion brands to sell across international borders, but while allowing consumers to shop in their native languages. It’s arrogant to assume everyone with money can speak English. And while most of the world speaks second and third languages, people tend to shop in their native/dominant languages.
ShopShops enables brands and retailers in the US to sell to China by bringing in brand reps to the retailers to translate and sell. This is very important. Selling to a consumer in his or her native language increases conversion- and is often where brands fail to execute. After all, it’s naive to assume all consumers speak and think in English.
ShopShops is an engaging, interactive, livestream tool for shoppers in China to purchase from retailers, brands and sales events around the world. They dispatch an on-site, Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking rep who translates and does the selling. This person ensures everything is culturally on-brand, styles, tries on merchandise, translates and takes care of customer service.
ShopShops is one of the pioneers in this space, however smart brands have been deploying similar strategies to win in international markets. Stadium Goods, a market for high-end sneakers, has taken a similar approach towards native content. They have a team based in China that produces content exclusively for that market. They attribute their success to their cultural zeitgeist approach.
A big part of expanding globally is knowing if your fashion brand has the bandwidth and capability to speak natively and cater to new audiences. And the most successful brands launch globally with international teams or hire teams native to specific markets.
You can’t achieve cultural nuances and spot-on copy by copying and pasting from Google Translate. It’s just not going to happen. If you integrate a translator into your site, you’ll end up with similar limitations. Introducing new languages is supposed to make the experience as engaging, interesting and on-brand as it is in English.
Owners of independent fashion brands, before launching online globally, coordinate with copywriters for every language you plan to feature. Note: You may want to begin with just 2-3 languages in the beginning. Come up with a smart system for how the copy will be translated. This allows the copywriters to communicate more effectively to determine which language and emotions work across cultures and which ones need country/regional-specific tailoring.
We came up with a similar system for our Chyangra Pashmina project for the United Nations. The social media portion was in English and Japanese. We coordinated between our English and Japanese copywriters for cultural nuances, content blocks and spacing needs for the captions of the various platforms (they differed substantially in this case) and even time zones for their project timelines.
Some independent fashion brands produce microsites. These are specially merchandised sites with bespoke photography and copy for specific audiences.
Sustainable shoe company, Allbirds, is a great example recently referenced by Glossy. They introduced a UK microsite since their main site is still tailored towards Silicon Valley consumers. The microsite hones in on sustainability, with a campaign on the sheep farms where they source their wool.
It makes a big difference to take things a step further with fine-tuned messaging.
Localized Distribution Partners
It’s easy to get confused when shopping internationally online. Shoppers can get deterred for many reasons: not understanding your return policy, not knowing who is responsible for customs and duties, very expensive customs and duties- and more.
Consider working with localized distribution partners to close the sale and increase repeat purchases. Your goods would be shipped from centers in their countries, casting customs and duties aside. If that’s not a possibility, look into prepaid customs. It’s easier to decide when all costs are presented from the start. It’s the costly, surprise back-billing that creates the problems.
These options all offer viable ways to boost international sales for independent fashion brands. But you still need a solid strategy to get started. Think about the big picture. Why are you selling internationally? Why these markets? How will your brand resonate with local shoppers? What are your regional-focused pricing, marketing and assortment strategies?
Looking for a little direction or a comprehensive global market strategy? Give us a call. We look forward to crafting solutions for your fashion brand’s unique needs. Call 310-957-5264 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.