Going global online without an online store
Not all retailers need an online store to reach their international market. Cloud-based property management software company Re-Leased doesn’t have a transactional store online, but relies almost exclusively on its website to generate new customers around the world.
Growing steadily since its launch in 2011, Re-Leased now has customers in 12 countries around the world, most of which are served exclusively online. The biggest source of customers to date has been direct enquiries through the Re-Leased website - so directing potential clients towards the site is a top priority.
Head of marketing and partnerships Sam Howie says website content has to resonate with clients, and tailoring the site to different markets is crucial.
“Everything our marketing team does at the moment is to streamline that [online] process and make it as easy as possible for people to enquire about our product.
“We are working on having different content displayed depending on where customers are in the world. In North America, customers see US dollars and North American buildings to connect them to the content.”
Despite being a New Zealand-founded company, Re-Leased models itself as a global company and doesn’t use New Zealand as a selling point. Howie says while the Kiwi-made ideal may resonate with New Zealanders, they don’t need it for leverage on a global stage.
“We consider ourselves a global company. If you tell people in the United Kingdom or the United States that you’re a New Zealand company it might even turn them off.
“Kiwi companies do punch above their weight on the global market because we have to think outside our world in New Zealand.”
Know where to get a helping hand
The Government’s international business development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) assists with about 4000 New Zealand companies looking to reach global markets.
Using the range of services NZTE offers to help companies set off on their exporting journey is often the first step for Kiwi retailers looking to expand.
A range of external advisors, known as ‘beachheads’, are experts in their areas and mentor and provide insights into the realities of growing international businesses. Some advisors specialise in ecommerce and digital marketing to make sure each company finds the Internet path that is right for it.
Competing in the global market can be difficult, especially for small companies, so NZTE provides in-market commentary and insights for businesses about competing globally in the digital marketplace.
In April 2016, NZTE signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba, the Chinese cousin of Amazon, which aimed to strengthen working relationships between Alibaba, NZTE and New Zealand exporters.
Alibaba is shaping up to be equally as disruptive to the retail marketplace as its western counterpart. It’s China’s largest retailer and has expanded since its launch in 1999 to other websites, including Taobao and Tmail, which dominate the ecommerce market in China.
But NZTE hopes the new relationship will help the website be a positive force in the retail landscape, allowing retailers to harness its power and reach new customers.