Tell us a little bit about your business.
Piccalilly is an organic baby & kids wear brand producing great looking and fabulously functional clothes and accessories for wholesale and retail throughout the UK, Europe & worldwide. The Piccalilly brand launched in 2006 and is now stocked in over 250 shops and on-line stores.
When did you start exporting? Where do you export to?
Piccalilly started exporting on an ad hoc basis right from the very beginning as the market for brightly colour organic cotton baby & kids wear was in its infancy and few companies were servicing this market. In 2008 founder Hannah Evans was invited on to the Passport to Export programme through UKTI and with the help of her UKTI trade advisor an overseas business plan was put into place.
Do you personally have any previous experience of international trade?
Prior to joining the UKTI Passport to Export programme I had no experience.
What made you start exporting?
Because we had a well optimised website and our market was niche we were easily found by companies overseas. Servicing the ad hoc enquiries from overseas gave us confidence to put together a more targeted programme to start exporting worldwide.
What were/are the main barriers?
Language is probably the main barrier.
How did you overcome these barriers?
We’ve had overseas students come and work with us on placement developing markets including France and Spain. Google Analytics is helpful to translate enquiries and answer in local languages. Increasingly we’ve taken on distributor and agents to work specifically developing markets including Germany, Sweden, Japan, Bulgaria, Russia and Hong Kong.
What are the main advantages of trading internationally?
A weak £ Sterling makes it favourable to buy from the UK. Trading internationally increases the market opportunities outside the UK, where the market is quite tough at the moment, and increases brand awareness beyond the local market.
Do you also buy from abroad?
Piccalilly source all our products currently from overseas and mainly in India. We source a small quantity from Indonesia.
What advice would you give to others considering trading internationally?
Don’t be fearful of it. Get your head around the logistics such as International payments and low cost and efficient courier services, be helpful and have a well optimised website which is fully internationalised including all the necessary pre-fixes to telephone the UK or offer your customer Skype details to make it cost effective for them to contact you in the UK. We offer both consumer and trade on-line order facilities in different formats – make it as easy for your customer to place an order, be helpful and the business will come. 50% of our business now comes from overseas. We can dispatch a 30 kg box of clothes to Australia for arrival in 3 working days which means an order can be placed, paid for, dispatched and delivered to the other side of the world within 5 working days (theoretically!) We have developed relationships with all the major courier services and we pass on the courier charges at cost to ensure we are competitive with their local market.
*** Thanks to Hannah for sharing her comments with us. This blog post was first published on our website in April 2011 but due to spam we had to remove it – back again now and here to stay! ***
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