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Comment: Retailers can avoid trans-Atlantic trauma

Despite the worst global recession on record, there is an increasing amount of retail traffic across the Atlantic with many top US and UK brands looking at international expansion as the route for growth. By Allyson Stewart-Allen

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Comment: Retailers can avoid trans-Atlantic trauma

Despite the worst global recession on record, there is an increasing amount of retail traffic across the Atlantic with many top US and UK brands looking at international expansion as the route for growth. By Allyson Stewart-Allen

Crate & Barrel, J Crew, Reiss, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie Kids, Orla Kiely, Coach, L K Bennett, Tory Burch and Patagonia are all looking at international expansion and others are sure to follow, but if they want do not want to be among the list of retail casualties in 2012, they need to make sure they adapt their ranges to the cultures and customers of their new geographies.

7 Top Tips to ensure brands are fit for purpose:
1. Manage "local" and "global" -  The best trans-Atlantic retailers get economies of scale while localising their services and ranges.
 
2. Transfer knowledge - Simply opening stores in the US, UK, Germany and other European markets is not enough - transferring what's learned from consumer behaviours and preferences in each market brings innovation, learning and profits.
 
3. Be resilient - Being able to change processes, designs and manage costs in turbulent climates is a skill to be implemented by both the operations teams and the retail business leaders.

4. Assume difference - Checking assumptions about the target culture is a must, as BestBuy, Fresh & Easy, Starbucks and others have learned at great cost.

5. Innovate through insight -  Involve consumers and supply chain partners to identify how new technologies, materials, designs, services and mistakes can change the business model.

6. Build the brand - Most consumers don't know these trans-Atlantic brands... yet.  It's a great opportunity to (re)position the retailer in a new geography.

7. Assume success -  Approach new markets intentionally - not just by licensing or franchising but having it as part of the long-term strategy.

Allyson Stewart-Allen, International Marketing Partners

Don't miss the Retail Bulletin International Expansion Conference 2012, London, 27th March. Sponsored by GfK, the theme of the day is 'Driving sales and market share, mitigating risk and strengthening your business through international multichannel growth strategies'. Speakers confirmed include Tesco, New Look, Coast, Aurora Fashions, WH Smith, Debenhams, ASOS.com, The Carphone Warehouse Group, Karen Millen, The Hamleys Group, TUI Travel PLC, Wiggle, JD Williams, Javelin Group, GfK. For full details and registration, click here.

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