Expanding into international markets is an exciting venture for any brand. The potential of international growth promises vast new audiences, diverse markets, and increased sales. However, many brands often overlook the challenge of return management, which, if not addressed, can erode the benefits of global expansion.
If you’re a growing fashion brand, for example, you’re probably focused on branding, product design, photography, sourcing, supply chain, and customer acquisition, and you’d be hard-pressed to find the time to manage the regional aspects of selling to international customers online. This is where assembling the right team of partners can help instrument your international sales operations and scale your growth exponentially. Experts in international expansion, payments, currency and customs/duties like Zonos, Reach, Brand Access, and Passport Global can help you set up local processes that make it easy for customers from new markets to shop your brand. Add ReturnBear to the mix, and complement your international sales solution by ensuring that you have an all-in-one returns processes in place that will increase customer satisfaction and reduce the cost of new international returns.
The Appeal of International Expansion for Fashion/Apparel Businesses
Tapping into international markets brings with it the promise of exponential growth. But it’s not just about increasing sales - it's about diversifying your brand’s presence, addressing new trends, and growing community with your new cross-border customers. These are some of the top reasons we see high-performing brands (in apparel, footwear and other categories) exploring international expansion:
- Diverse Markets: Expanding internationally means your brand reaches new and/or different demographics, each with unique customers and buying habits. This creates new opportunities to ensure that your product assortment finds additional interest around the world.
- Increased Sales Volume: Global expansion naturally results in an expanded customer base, which can significantly boost sales. Exclusive regional items or collections also enable you to test, design and merchandise SKUs that you wouldn’t necessarily sell in your local market.
- Mitigating Regional Risks: If one market faces economic downturns or other challenges, having a presence in multiple markets can bring stability and complementary revenue streams for your brand.
- Gaining Competitive Edge: Venturing into international markets ahead of competitors can establish your brand as a leader in that market, allowing you to capture significant market share before others follow.
The Role of Partners Like Zonos, Reach, Brand Access and Passport
Most brands understand that they need to grow beyond their local borders, so the question becomes: What is the best way to expand internationally? And, naturally, which tools and partners can help accelerate and manage this global expansion? Every brand is different - from their products and customers to their values and vision - so the partners to work with will also be different depending on what your goals are. The good news is there are some amazing companies that are ready to help you bring your business to new markets. Here are some of ReturnBear’s recommendations for partners that can help you with seamless international expansion in 2024:
- Zonos: Simplifies cross-border transactions by offering accurate and transparent duty and tax calculations, enabling a smooth shopping experience for global shoppers to ensure they stay lifelong customers. Zonos’ promise to brands is to help them sell anything, anywhere, to anyone, anytime.
- Reach: A flexible and modular Merchant of Record. Specializing in localization services, including local acquiring & payments, automated FX, and fraud management. Reach offers a frictionless checkout experience so that cross-border customers can shop in their local currency and use the payment methods they know and trust. Brands are able to ‘Reach’ new customers easily.
- Brand Access: Provides a consultative approach on everything from B2B & B2C fulfillment, international warehousing and customer service. Brand Access helps brands understand what they need to do to successfully launch their brand abroad. B2C and B2B fulfillment, marketplace management, store support, and GDPR/privacy compliance are just some of the reasons brands choose Brand Access to launch their international markets.
- Passport: Excels in global parcel logistics and the physical movement of goods. Passport are internationalization, shipping and compliance experts. As an international carrier for DTC, passport has helped over 1,200 brands successfully launch, scale, and modernize the way they ship to their international customers.
The Hidden Cost: Returns and Why They Matter
A staggering number of brands experience high volumes of expensive cross-border returns. Increased returns, especially from geographies far from your home warehouse, negatively impact your bottom line. This is where ReturnBear comes in, offering an end-to-end returns management platform that will complement your new international fulfillment processes. Brands that work with ReturnBear can have a localized, convenient and cost-effective experience for returns originating in Canada, the US and the UK, through the use of our drop-off network, regional hubs, and all-in-one processing and consolidation services. At the end of the day, the right partner will help you sell your products into international markets, and ReturnBear can help cut cross-border costs and delight customers with fast and convenient local return services.
ReturnBear: The End-to-End Return Management Platform
Partnering with ReturnBear provides local returns and reverse logistics in the international markets where your margin is eroding the most. Here’s how ReturnBear supports brands selling into Canada, the US and the UK:
- Free return portal: Fully featured RMA platform with refunds, exchanges, store credit (+ bonuses), return policy management and automated customer return initiation.
- Return drop-off locations: Package-free, label-free returns at 1,500+ locations across Canada. On-site return verification and instant refunds.
- Shipping: Discounted return shipping rates with ReturnBear carriers.
- Logistics: Multiple regional locations for receiving, consolidating, and processing returns in Canada, the US and the UK. Cross-border consolidation and shipping management.
- Verified returns: Physical verification that returned merchandise matches approved RMA and brand’s return policy/SOPs.
- Returns processing: Grading and repackaging of merchandise, as well as multi-location disposition of items.
- Order fulfillment: Fulfill new customer orders from ready-to-sell returned merchandise in your international markets.
- Channel agnostic: A single platform for returns management that handles your D2C returns as well as returns from your Marketplace channels.
- Support: Guarantee a human response to your questions within 48 hours.
- Hands-on onboarding: White-glove onboarding for all customers so you can get up and running easily.
International growth is an exciting chapter for any brand, but the challenges of managing expanded operations, especially in the domain of returns, can quickly overshadow some of the exciting gains you are pushing for! By establishing a team of the right partners, and employing an end-to-end return management solution with ReturnBear, your brand can ensure that its global expansion is scalable, profitable and sustainable.