Businesses are always looking for the next opportunity – and foreign markets are becoming more accessible than ever.
Whether driven by a market reaching saturation point, or the lucrative export opportunities arising from a fluctuating currency, established retail and hospitality brands are increasingly looking to international markets for growth.
Examples include fashion retailers such as JD Sports, Fat Face and Superdry, which are expanding into territories across Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia, while fast food chains Leon and Wagamama are eyeing sites in Europe and the US.
As well as ambition, all these brands have one thing in common: they have well-defined identities with enough appeal to attract shoppers and diners in new regions, backed up by robust business models.
So how do other retail and hospitality businesses put themselves in a similar position of strength? Here are Vodat’s top tips:
Tip 1: understand the uniqueness of each market
Overseas expansion is rarely a matter of direct translation. After establishing audience appetite and spending power, retailers and hospitality vendors must tailor their offer to meet local demand.
Businesses often work with local partners to overcome cultural barriers such as language, currency and regulations. For operators selling goods or services, it’s crucial to establish a market’s preferred methods of payment, returns policies and mode of address.
The same level of investment needs to be put into technology infrastructure. Modern stores and hospitality venues are well-connected environments, driven by technology that streamlines operations and optimises customer services. Just as domestic customers demand the seamless integration of digital tools
Tip 2: ensure operations are scalable
The connected customer experience is reflected at numerous points throughout the purchasing and ordering journey. For example, sales associates might utilise tablets to deliver product or menu information, or customer Wi-Fi may be offered, increasing the opportunities for engagement and personalised marketing follow-up.
With all this attention placed on customer engagement, it’s important not to overlook the pressing technological concerns of operating in a new territory. Every physical retail or hospitality venue needs a robust, reliable network on which to run their digital devices.
Growing companies, therefore, need to consider whether their communications infrastructure is powerful enough to deliver adequate connection speeds, and which technologies should be applied to tackle communications over large distances.
Other things to think about include whether the territory demands specific security measures for the protection of sensitive data, and what backup facilities are available in the event of a disaster.
Tip 3: think about the network first
As we’ve already mentioned, underpinning operations with a managed data network that’s every bit as robust and secure as its counterpart in the domestic market – if not more so – is extremely important.
When striking out in new directions, some retailers and hospitality vendors may choose to go it alone, while others may enlist the services of partners on the ground; there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
That being said, alongside the multiple localisation requirements, any business wishing to replicate the level of service and operational management it has at home should consider the benefits of taking their network expertise with them.
Why risk harming their identity by offering poor connection speeds, or leaving the network open to security breaches? Retailers and hospitality companies opting for a trusted, flexible and supportive network partner can focus their attentions on the customer, safe in the knowledge that their business is running on the best infrastructure available.
Replicating an existing network overseas can bring an entire global estate within easy reach of its head office – why leave it at home?
Vodat International specialises in managed data networks for the retail and hospitality industries. Get in touch with Vodat to find out how we can assist your global expansion plans.