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Transcription: Is your brand global?

Webinar Transcription
Topic: Is your brand global?
Host: Joshua Aikens
Guest: Kelly Stacey

Welcome everybody to our zonals webinar are it’s a part of our monthly webinar series. My name is Joshua Aikens. I am the chief of staff as Ono’s and this is my first my first shot at the monthly webinar.

So we kind of round robin a little bit. So if you’ve watched some of these issues. Connie from the sales department or some EC or JB or myself and in an upcoming webinar, we’re going to do a recap our. Experience at Geneva. He went to Geneva

2. So he’ll talk a bit about experience and kind of what learned about was probably. Today we have with us. I see I’m going to advance the slide. There we go. Josh Chief of Staff Kelly Stacy vice president of customer relationships at CGS and Kelly. Why don’t you give your boiler plate? You’re sure thanks for having me Josh very excited about what you do and we met.

When I was in a previous role with a brand called Vic swimwear you and I met and we were I’d like to thank early adopters of your solution. And now I’m with CGS where I have relationships with over 200 of our customers that are in fashion apparel Footwear space. So I’ve been able to expand from one brand to hundreds of Brands very exciting and.

Really closely with the teams operationally really liaison with the executives on their various technology projects. So what’s that? Give a give a very brief, but broad overview of CGS. So CGS is I work. I actually am in the application Solutions division. Our product is Blue cherry. It’s an end-to-end Erp solution.

So we’re sort of the Soup To Nuts for the back office operations for our space and our. Core competency is really in fashion apparel Footwear. So extremely robust extremely agile and our consultants usually came from the apparel side. So we like to think that we understand and we speak brand as well as.

Nice nice. Excellent. Okay. So today our hope is to leverage some of your experience specific to when you were running a brand when you were the top dog and making decisions about how to grow a global strategy for your brand. And so we’ll talk about some of the pains and then some of the experiences you had tried to solve that problem.

Our goal here is to kind of expose to the viewers. And those that come along and watch this this webinar. Picking some games which you found out what you learn short-circuit some of their some of their experiences that they can get to a better place more quickly. So to fire things up. The first thing we can talk about is is the daunting this.

For the the fear of the complexity of international and how that hinders every brand in as they begin this journey. So speak to that from. Yes for us. If we really wanted to be an international brand we wanted to sell direct to Consumer internationally and it was a big part of our strategy for growing that space But it was obviously a big undertaking in our minds.

It was okay. There’s the credit card Nuance of all of the fraud that takes place in our finance team said whoa, whoa, whoa. We already have enough challenges even domestically dealing with credit cards. So how are we going to even begin to manage that and so that was one of the bigger hurdles that we had to jump just getting financed by in and then just in general understanding sort of the the International customer and how to represent our brand online making the checkout friendly and you know all of the marketing and shipping the logistics side.

So it was very daunting. I mean we felt the same way when we. Doubt internationally and wholesale. It was the same thing where we had to really think globally but act locally so it can be very daunting for Brands to go International. Did you go wholesale first before you try to go direct? Yes. We had a very robust wholesale presence and many of the in Europe.

And it was it kind of helped the brand quite a bit and we’ve always been sort of an international brand just organically grew internationally through trade shows Etc. Just you know, the reach of the brand has done that but we’ve never directly to the consumer. We haven’t had that but we knew that we had.

We had a desire and a demand coming from International customers and we had some that would would purchase when they were in the United States and they would have it shipped to their home in Florida. Right? Because they just couldn’t they needed to go back with Vicks? So we knew that we had customers asking for the brand but we just were again it was just a big, you know a big task to get their fix.

Let’s mention a fix was a swimsuit Brad Wright is a luxury swimsuit item, right? Swansea we like to think of VIXX is a luxury resort brand. We like to think that we you know, the the owner and the Visionary polar Monte kind of brought luxury swim to the United States and she sort of founded the concept of you go to the beach and it’s not just about function.

It’s about fashion. It’s about making a statement. So we had swimwear as well as Resort where I’m really that beach to street. So we like to think of ourselves as you’re going. Vacation you’re packing Vic’s not you. What was the Tipping Point that led you to think? Alright that footprint that Global brand is driving enough direct sale demand that we should like firm it up that we should that we should take the next step.

Truth the truth is we saw in our organic we could see the search some of the organic the metrics were showing that we were getting a lot of you know visitors from other countries, so we could kind of see that a little bit in the metrics and our digital Partners were sort of saying hey, this is a Hot Pocket for you.

We really need to go International but a little bit of just we want to grow and how do we grow outside of the United States? And how do we reach further, you know into the millions of people out there. So it was honestly a little. Adjust let’s open up the market and let’s get more of the pie. And we wanted to grow that direct to Consumer business.

It was an important, you know business for us. And obviously we were able to speak directly with our consumer versus you know, wholesale is amazing, but it’s not always that direct touch point. You don’t always get to choose the experience Etc. So it was really just it just made sense. We were growing significantly domestically and we thought let’s just.

Open the gates. Got you. That’s it. Let’s let’s segue. Then talking about experience Choose You Know wanting to choose the customers experience and knowing that that retail or wholesale distribution wasn’t all that your first experience. What? Where did you go from that? I mean our first experience with shipping with International was to say we’re International.

I mean, it sounds really crazy. But to be able to say actually we can ship a product we can ship a package to Europe and we can wear an international brand and with that came sort of that whole model. We use a third-party and we said hey you can do all the heavy lifting will partner with you will.

You know use all of your resources and you can make it super simple for us. So for us it was a stake in the ground for international but it was it was very I found out very quickly just the reviewing monthly really the numbers and the customer feedback and just the feedback from our e-commerce team that this wasn’t a scalable model that this wasn’t a model to really have the best experience.

It was just just a spit up a very very religion was yeah. It was like a dipping our toe in the water. You know, it’s sort of like, okay, we’re International so we can say that but it was not the experience that we thought it would be and you know it it had its it had quite a few shortfalls sin. We found that out as we went along so.

So we have a term for what we call that that group of customer or companies. We call it a gelt because it handles Global e-commerce Logistics and payments. So they kind of the one button solution where we’re at the end of the day a visitor comes to your website and then goes away from your website and they’re no longer truly your customer right now.

The gelth is buying the swimsuit from you essentially and then they’re quoting the prize to duties attacks is the shipping. They’re sending it on their shipper account. They’re paying the duties and taxes through their shipper. And then they’re they’re keeping their actually can control the price.

So then they keep whatever they want to keep of that total price and they review the Constitution. Yes, it’s definitely you know, it’s definitely a stake in the ground for international. But once you really take a step back and you come to do the math and you really start to take sort of just.

Analyze your business you realize really quickly that it’s really is just the first step of international. It was great for us because we have always been the type of brand that says, look, let’s learn how to do it and then will internalize it if we can if it makes sense, let’s internalize it and so this made a lot of sense to learn the business realize it’s not so scary understand why we don’t want to use this model but then say, how can we internalize this so, I would say it was a great first step.

We also realized some things just simple things like, you know, we had quality control that was happening at our Factory, but knowing that. This product was going across back across the country wherever and it was going to be we had we and we had a few more quality steps that we would take just to ensure we learned that through the guilt model because we had some product that oh something.

I don’t know they were even if there’s a thread that’s not quite right and it’s very small, but we’re luxury product that consumer is saying well, I’m spending this type of money and waiting this much time. It needs to be perfect. So we learned quite a bit using that model gave us a little kind of training wheels.

Talk specifically about the cost of Miss shipments when you’re trying to be International. I mean it was it’s painful because the customer is calling asking where their shipment is and we are. We want to internet, you know, true up that experience as quickly as possible. So there were times when we would just ship out the product and good faith knowing that we might eat it on that first package that went out and maybe got lost and we have to wait on our partner to find it because we just didn’t want to compromise that.

So we were really about customer Goodwill and said look we want you to come back. So, you know, there were some painful moments where it was. We don’t know where that package is and and there were a lot of positive experiences, but just the loss of visibility and control it was it created a bit of a negative customer experience and our e-commerce, you know customer support team would come and they would say is there any way we can change can we get off of this model?

It is painful and spending so much time chasing under. No packages, and it’s just and they feel so bad for these customers because they need it. They’re going on vacation, you know, so we kind of we kind of forced ourselves to say. Hey, let’s take a hard look at this and let’s make a change right?

So you had you were Brave now like you got enough of the toe in the water that you’re like alright the time to internalize this the the market is real. The opportunity is real. Let’s let’s grow to the next level. So so what did that look like it and maybe you could even talk about it. Sounds like you grew enough to want to change platform, which also helped you kind of go out and explore and find your next solution.

Yes, so one of the things we realize as well was that we were on a platform and I won’t name the platform just because and it really was more about our business and how our business ran but it was a platform that require quite a bit of development to make any small changes and it really kind of handcuffed us to be as agile as we needed to be and so we made the decision to move to Shopify plus and that was a move toward agility and toward being able to say look.

Let’s be it. Let’s internalized more. It’s this business and let’s be able to move with the market quicker. So we did that and it was an excellent experience. And while we were in the process of planning that relaunch we said, okay, let’s also change how we how we manage International and I think that’s about the time that believe or not by UPS partner brought in some opportunities and he kind of shared the I Global solution solution was called by global back then.

And he shared that solution with us and said hey, this is a way for you to internalize some of this International and it was so smart and so simple and it kind of covered all the risks that we need but it allowed us to own the supply chain that I said. This is too good to be true, you know, but we made the decision that we were going to be bullish and we were going to go live with International when we platform to Shopify plus so that’s what we did.

So talk the first thing was the the experience of like I know because we talk to customers all the time. There’s a tremendous amount of fear. Over integrating something new especially when you’re already starting a whole new platform, right like integration is often a real sticking point because not everybody does her right like everybody’s got a war story about an integration gone wrong promises made and not kept.

So what was your experience there or what were you worried about? Well, I was very cautious because I’d been involved in so many technology projects and I know integration can be a dicey area because it’s not just about the solution that you’re integrating or the solution that you’re integrating to its that third-party relationship of everybody’s pointing at everyone else saying it’s your side.

It’s my side and I didn’t want to be caught in that so we did quite a bit of due diligence and I think a lot of calls with zoonosis and I was like Global them but Sonos and we. Were like are you sure is this going to work? It’s going to be simple. We cannot risk go live. We had a plan B that if we couldn’t go live with International we would hold off on International go live with our society.

Resolve the Black Friday because we were literally going live weeks before Black Friday and then revisit International, but the reality was even our development partner on the Shopify side said, hey, there’s risks, you know these this is an integration. They had worked with your solution yet and they were even sort of low, but they came back saying that was the easiest integration we’ve ever had they were blown away.

And so with I and I was happy because he kept your. But we were able to True up the integration. But then also in the warehouse resolved UPS came to the table and said here’s how you’re going to ship your packages one label very simple. It was just it was very very easy, and we were able to go live on time.

So. It’s a shocking story because I’ve never seen it any other technology, you know, there’s always some Nuance that you didn’t account for but it really and we even had some changes. I don’t know if you remember this with our currency and how we calculated our currency as far as just how we calculate our price our retail.

Because we had wholesale business and we wanted to make sure that we weren’t competing those another you remember an additional percentage, right? Yes, we had some so we wanted to make sure we weren’t compact competing with our Canadian business our European business. So we had some some fun, but that was simple we were able to get closer to be having a fair, you know, a fair business online.

We didn’t want to have that issue. So there were some fun things that we did in a very very tight timeline. So it might be reserved some of the things that we did with you. We did via some rules that we had to write but now we’ve internalized those into the backend and those controls are now standard.

So someone that comes on can go in the back end and they can adjust by I think it’s by a country’s own they can adjust like markups and things like that. I know they can do it with duties and taxes and with the shipping. But maybe even maybe even with the currency conversion on the price. So so yeah, I we probably learned from you some things that.

The retailers were going to want and integrated into the product. It’s important because you know the consumer sees, you know, the whole ecosystem so they know what your price is on shopbop what your price is under deporte what your price is on your website and they want to ensure that it’s fair.

So you provided a tool that we were able to really, you know, kind of just ensure that that. I made sense for our customers. And so then I think previously with the gout model it was a fast calculation so you could never really nail it. So I know you also took advantage of some fraud protection tools talk about how that you know, how your finance department I guess felt about that.

I just I think for them. It was just being able to understand what the levers were and know that we were able to because we had quite a few gates up. I mean it was getting to a point when we had, you know, even just even domestically it was difficult for us to control some of the fraud and it was and we had some pretty large.

Orders domestically and sometimes I mean if you can imagine a 5 thousand dollar order online it would happen and then there’d be so that that’s just dealing with us customers. So knowing that we had a partner that could really help us manage that risk and and then in the end obviously, I think we even took advantage of your capturing of that Revenue.

So I think we off we took that off the plate, which I’m which I was fine with because I said they’re going to do a better job than we are but it was very seamless for us. To do that. So, I mean, I think that’s one of the biggest risks is the credit card Side and being able to deal with the fraud and also being a trustworthy partner for the consumer, right?

They want to know that you have all those protections up as well. So. Yeah, since we were working together before and you were an early adopter there as well. We’ve kind of moved towards that model of providing instead of trying to be integrated to any and all payment options. We’re actually. The Zone has payment option with the fraud protection is the basically the base model now, it’s plugged it’s really easy.

The big differentiator is that it’s in the currency of the foreign purchaser. It posts to their bank account in the number they saw on the screen. So there’s no surprises. There’s no conversion on their end. What they saw is what they get and then we repeat rate the money and pay the customer in u.s.

Dollars or you know, in whatever their whatever they’re asking for. So. That’s huge that’s huge because they need to feel that it’s a local experience right there. There’s and I think that that was a something we didn’t have in the past and there was always that question. I just I just think that you know, that’s that’s bigger than you think being able to for them to see that I bought in pounds and I can see that it’s in pounds and a super clear and black and white for that consumer.

So that’s a big deal. So I didn’t mention. For those that are participating if anybody had a question at any point throughout this or just wanted to throw something out there to have Kelly address. We’ll look at those at the end if there are any I just didn’t mention that at the beginning but let’s move on to other consideration.

We’ve talked a little bit about platform and integration but let’s talk about being International ready. Like like what is what do you think International ready could look like for people that are in. Just talk about your suggest clients. You know what? I mean? The the shoes the that group of people.

What are the where do they have to get to when you see them when you see them and say all right. It’s time to now introduce you to his own house, or maybe it’s time for you to get to a Gala. I mean, I think there’s there’s all of the technology, you know, we need to make sure that you’re ready with the right solution the right back into operations that you can manage the international business.

I also think just. Your brand needs to be ready because I think that your quality needs to be there your fit needs to be there. I mean, it sounds really simple, but that’s just going to minimize the returns and I think that if you have a presence in the countries that you’re going International in it’s always better because your consumer has potentially touched and felt your product and we’re talking about apparel.

That’s where I come from but they fit is there and so they know if I buy a size small this is what this means and I think that it’s real. Your when you don’t know your customer, you know your own customer. I think Vic’s wasn’t a very, you know, their position was our customers knew us and they they knew their they knew their style.

They need their size and their cut and we were sort of like the the fitted tee from James Pierce, you know, so you just know what you’re getting and I think it makes a significant difference in your ability to go International. So, how do you get there from here then? What would you what would you suggest people do to get to that one to get to that level?

I mean is it just is it just an unrelenting focus on on your customer even if even if you don’t have a lot there right now? I think I think you know if you’re ready as a brand if you’re having great sell through in the channels that you’re in if you understand your product assortment, if you understand your customer and your brand and the experience, you’re driving, I think you know, if you’re ready, you know that there’s you know, I always used to say to the owner beautiful as International.

It’s not a word that means one thing and one country and one thing and another of your product. If you have a great product, I think it has no boundaries. So I think. As you know, understanding the ticketing and the the pricing and again, you know your quality and making sure that you’re ready for returns, you know, the returns happen even here because we have a customer likes to try clothes on through direct consumer and she used her, you know her bedroom as a dressing room.

So there’s a certain amount of that that you need to be able to stomach and then you also need to put your hat on Sam willing to go as far as I need to hold this customer to keep this customer and so sometimes that. That means more concessions and a little heavier on the service and and making sure that you’re taking responsibility for you know, any you know any experience that might not be positive for some reason so it’s you know, it’s honestly the world is so flat right now.

I feel like everyone everything’s so accessible. It’s not like it was five six seven years ago where it was like International. Oh my gosh. I mean the customer is. Exposed to shopbop went there before all of us and they’ve kind of paved the way so I use shopbop just because they went there and they went there with two day shipping and they went there and said we’re going to go there and they made the customer feel as though she you know had the same benefits of buying in the US so, you know, it’s a risk, but I think if your products ready your Brand’s ready and then if you work with the right partner who can also tighten up, All of the back end operations, you know, you have to respect that the supply chain.

I think sometimes that’s left off the table, but that’s a really important piece. Yeah, we talked earlier a little bit about your you’re needing to control the supply chain because that really like maybe like you just said could be the it is certainly the Miss piece in the customer experience. Chat conversation right like like you can talk all day about how much you’re going to take care of your customers.

But then if there’s a if there’s a rub somewhere in the in the Fulfillment side. Did everything falls apart know for sure, I mean, I think I think the intention you know, VIXX was built as a brand that was about the experience and about the brand and about the quality of the product. And so packaging was always a really big thing for us when we went to the guilt model.

We made a lot of hard decisions about packaging because of the costs that were involved and I felt we didn’t put our best foot forward the first pass because we had to make those concessions we had to say. Okay, there’s a costume that they don’t want to touch the package this much. And so there was all of these touches that we internalize and that was part of who we were so, you know, I think I think just in general you have to stand true and realize that it’s very competitive direct-to-consumer and while packaging is an important piece of cost because you want to make sure that you know shipping is a big thing and there’s all the you know, you need to be responsible with your packaging.

You still need to also. Provide a reason for the consumer to come directly to you for that product. So needs to have some level of touch that feels different and special. You know, gotcha. I got another question. Where do you see the global e-commerce Market heading today? Like what are the trends that you were maybe tracking or preparing for?

That’s a loaded question. I mean we see. No barriers to entry less barriers to entry I think. I think just I mean Amazon’s a big part of that is a big part of what I hear In My World CGS Amazon direct-to-consumer. We just had our Insight conference. It was a digital conference. It was about being digitally connected and every one of our customers said that is really their focus.

It’s all about the direct to Consumer business and managing the Amazon business. Because I think that’s because the Department’s our business has changed so much and I think that there’s creativity of Crossing sort of, you know, crossing the barriers and saying let’s let’s leverage this direct to Consumer model as much as possible.

So I think it’s going to continue to flex and change. I think I think platforms like Shopify Plus have leveled the playing field for brands that aren’t necessarily big but there. They’re able to act like very big Brands and flex with the market. I think that’s a pretty cool thing because it used to kind of be here either in that big Enterprise leverage your whole business be you know platform or you’re trying to figure it out but you get a shop Phi plus and they kind of came in and said everybody’s got a shot at this and I think that’s pretty cool.

You know? Yeah. Are you are they seeing Amazon as the front of me? Sort of model where they where they use it to get exposure and to get out there. But at the same time they’re also concerned about building their direct channels to their customers. Yeah, I think Amazon became something that no one could have ever predicted.

I think there was this sort of. You kind of got a your there whether you want to be there because the marketplace and that sort of got out of control and I think a lot of Brands didn’t really get their arms around until it was too late and they said wow, we’re there even if we don’t want to be there so I don’t have a hard and fast answer to this but I here just sort of a more strategic approach to dealing with Amazon and saying look it’s important to be there because.

You know, there’s a big customer or a lot of customers there. But there’s also this sort of how do we do it and how do we decide what we are going to sell on Amazon and then there are businesses. That’s just that’s their business is Amazon. I mean, I just think it’s just got a free pass right because it used to be in luxury that you were judged by the door.

You sold to and Amazon for some reason is just this. It’s just a safe door for most brands to go through without behalf without judgment. It’s kind of a strange. They just kind of figured it out. So I do think it’s still something that you know brands have to be cognizant of and not you know, and control, you know, so if you’re if you’re.

If you have a you know a brand with breath and you kind of want to thank you, I want it all up there or do I want to kind of have a you know, so no sort of my Classics in my never out of stocks Etc. Do I want to give them all of the First Market? Do I want to save that for my my my boutiques and my specialty stores Etc.

So there’s some strategy for brand managers there. That’s you got your well. Thank you so much for sharing. We are we are up against our clothes out time. I’m so grateful for your time to jump on with us and and hopefully what some of what we were able to share today speaks to brands that are trying to get some of those questions answered and just trying to figure out where they are on that compendium of growing internationally.

Thanks for having me Josh and best of luck. Appreciate it. You have a great day. All right. You too, bye-bye.

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