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Drapers Digital Forum: Don’t rush into international expansion

The most important thing to remember when weighing up whether to launch into new markets is to take it slowly and do your research, ecommerce experts have said.

Speaking at the Drapers Digital Forum in London on Thursday, Dan Lumb, global online director for lifestyle brand Hunter, said: “You have to concentrate on core markets and don’t try to do too much too soon. It’s better to start slowly and build up your influence.”

Lee Friend, international content director for ecommerce fashion photography agency Fashot, compared it to a game of blackjack: “You should sit back and watch what others are doing before making your move.”

Other advice included using local languages in websites to gain the trust of potential customers.

“Don’t just translate the content on your UK site into foreign languages; you need different pictures and native speakers to write copy in the local language,” said Friend.

The panel, which also included Patricia Benito, former director of ecommerce for Spanish fashion retailer Grupo Cortefiel, advised delegates to research any new markets under consideration, through local focus groups and by looking at the population versus internet penetration.

Benito said Russia and Brazil are among the countries that have high potential for online penetration. She also suggested that launching your own website could be an option if you have brand awareness and resources in the local market.

Otherwise you should consider a combination of channels, such as having your website but launching on a multibrand site such as Tmall, Amazon, Zalando or as well.

Lumb recommended choosing distribution channels carefully: “We have our own stores in the US and Germany, but we couldn’t do China on our own so we have a partner there.”


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