4 tips to help you grow your international fashion business
Australia’s fashion industry has an excellent reputation globally, with its style and approach centred around Australia’s unique lifestyle and environment.
But with fierce international competition, it’s critical to be prepared when looking to grow your fashion business in overseas markets.
Here are four tips from our Associate Director, Chartih Amarasinghe, to help your business on the path to international success:
1. Build your export strategy
Preparation is key. Developing a written export strategy will help you focus on a range of factors that will influence your international growth, from your market and distribution channels, to country-specific regulations and risks.
Understanding whether your business can be easily scaled-up for export growth will help you set a realistic growth plan. Can your business take on increased international orders, what costs and expenses will you encounter and do you have the right employees – are just some of the questions you need to consider.
2. Know your market
Before making any commitments, you should do as much research as you can to identify which international markets are the most suitable for your brand and product offering.
Visit the country, meet with potential customers, agents and distributors to determine appropriate market entry strategy. Understand the local customs and regulations, calculate the costs of shipping your product also taking in to account any commissions payable to agents – all of this will help you gain a better understanding of the viability of your export opportunity.
Don’t overlook the time and resources that you need to allocate to managing suppliers and logistics when you first start exporting. Logistics is a huge part of an exporting business.
Your chosen market is likely to have its own regulatory and compliance requirements, which come with practical and financial considerations, including consumer protection rules, product standards and product liability insurance. Don’t get caught out by overlooking local regulations.
3. Networks are key
Establishing the right relationships and networks will help you build your fashion brand and highlight where to focus your marketing efforts.
Your supply chain is critical, so making sure you have strong relationships in place will help you take on international growth – from manufacturers and distributors, to industry associations and representative organisation, right down to your end customer.
Looking at the right tradeshows to showcase your latest collections can help you build your brand, connect with new buyers and wholesalers, and achieve online and print media coverage.
4. Manage your cashflow
Funding your business growth is a challenge faced by many fashion businesses. Financing becomes even more important when you grow your exports and overseas buyers start submitting larger wholesale orders with tight delivery timelines and long payment terms.
The upfront costs associated with fulfilling these orders can put pressure on your cashflow, which can then impact other aspects of your business.
It’s important to look at your finance options early on. Can your domestic business maintain momentum with increased international orders or will it put further strain on your business cashflow?
Getting an upfront payment from your buyer can help you manage the manufacture process. If this isn’t possible, your bank may be able to help with finance. For many businesses lack of security can be a barrier to accessing finance from your bank, but alternatives are available. Efic , Australia’s export credit agency, can work with your bank to provide supplementary finance or provide direct loans to help with your international growth.
Export can represent unlimited opportunities for Australian fashion businesses, the key to success is in being prepared. For more tips on how your fashion business can take on the world, download Efic’s free Taking Australian fashion to the world eBook .