mobile navigation icon

We have our fingers on the pulse of global retail

Selecting the right online channel for your business

Jenni Day, Head of Marketing at Pentagon
29 August 2017

At Pentagon, we have a lot of conversations with retailers about selecting the right online channel to help grow their global proposition. However, launching a store on a new international marketplace is the easy bit. Making that store successful… is a whole different story!

Retailers need to take a consultative approach to international sales, particularly when there are over 500 online marketplace channels to choose from. The time has long passed when we could ‘stick a finger in the air’ and ‘give a new market a go’. It’s time to use some science behind the selection, ensuring each new channel generates a healthy profit, rather than draining your finite resources.


TIP 1: Fully understand your brand voice, product offering and USP for the market

Great news! You have been given the go-ahead to enter into a new market. You have your resources lined up, the funds behind you and you are itching to launch your product offering.

But be aware: it must be the right online channel for your business.

Before you take the plunge into a new market, make sure you fully understand how your brand will be received by the local consumer. Do your due diligence into the market. Explore local expectations. How do these match up with your own offering?

In France, for example, consumers expect:

  • Beautifully laid out online stores, with expertly shot images, professional product videos and detailed descriptions, highlighting the quality of the product – all in the local
  • Products to take into account local trends.
  • Marketing promotions to be consistent across all channels, including offline.
  • Customer service to always be in French, with 66% of shoppers expecting a response in the local language.
  • Reliable and efficient logistics, which include a tracking option.
  • Free returns, since 77% of French online shoppers count this as a major influencer when deciding to buy online.

You need to ask yourself, is your brand able to meet the expectations of the local consumer? And if not, consider how you can adapt your current offering to the market.

Unless you can create a unique proposition that stands out from local competition, with a brand voice that talks to local consumers, success on a new channel will be an uphill battle.


TIP 2: Match your products to the right channels

France is a particularly interesting market when it comes to ecommerce. Unlike the UK (which is largely dominated by ecommerce giants Amazon and eBay), the French market is highly segregated, with marketplaces focused on specific product verticals.

La Redoute, for example, is the leading online site for fashion and home products, with 99% brand awareness in the country. The marketplace is very particular about which retailers they choose to support through their platform, since they want to retain their strong curated brand proposition as a high-quality boutique. This makes La Redoute the perfect platform for established fashion brands targeting mid-market customers with high levels of disposable income.

On the other side, Cdiscount, as the name suggests, is focused on providing consumers with the best discounts across a range of products. They use their home page as a marketing platform to showcase the best product deals, and even offer customers desktop or mobile alerts. Retailers need to be able to offer significant discounts to be successful on this channel, so making sure you have plenty of margin to play with is crucial.

Fnac is another attractive marketplace, but don’t even bother looking at it if you are a fashion seller. Fnac is a tech marketplace that specialises in supplying the latest in tech, gadgets, gaming and music, all at affordable prices. It offers a more curated and polished proposition than Cdiscount, with distinct areas of the site focused on particular interests.

French consumers visit these different sites to satisfy different needs, so it is important to make sure you take the time to research which channel is right for your products. Otherwise you could end up investing time and resources into a channel, only to find that your products don’t sell!


TIP 3: Test, test and test again

Once you have selected the right marketplace for your brand, you need to start testing. Selling into a new country or on a new channel is all about understanding the local consumer – what they like, how they shop, when is the best time to run promotions.

You may find that your best seller on your own brand website, doesn’t sell on a new channel, but that stock which has been sitting in your warehouse for months flies on the shelves. Don’t be afraid to trial a range of products in small quantities to get an understanding of your customer tastes – then increase stock allocation for the best sellers.

Marketplaces also have a number of marketing levers which are fantastic ways to promote your products in a new market. Run promotions, special offers and brand awareness campaigns to let customers know you have arrived. Not forgetting to analyse performance, so you can tweak future campaigns to guarantee ongoing sales growth.


The French ecommerce landscape


Let us develop a tailored solution for your business that will help you reach new international customers and grow your global sales.

get in touch