Thanks to the digital developments of the 21st Century, small businesses can now reach new international markets faster than ever before. Navigating a foreign market certainly presents its challenges and it’s important to remind yourself that success does not happen overnight.
As the founder and creative director of stationery and giftware label Blushing Confetti, I’ve designed hundreds of products for the modern fun lady to enjoy. What began as my small local business in 2014, my products are now stocked in more than 3500 stores worldwide and we have a strong presence in America, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK. In saying this, it definitely didn’t grow to this size overnight. It was such a lengthy process full of sleepless nights (more like months) and countless cups of coffee!
Breaking into international markets can be so overwhelming so when it comes to wholesaling to the US specifically, here are my top tips and advice on how to enter and establish success in the US market through wholesaling, based on my experiences as a small-business owner.
1. Know your opportunity and purpose
Just because you can enter US market doesn’t mean you should. It is important to ensure there is legitimate opportunity for your business to leverage.
Complete rigorous consumer demand and market competitors research to determine:
a) What are the market gaps and;
b) Can my business fill them?
If you can, great! This is your opportunity and your purpose. From this research, you have a clear understanding of your business’ US market position and can look into seeking retailers who cater to your brand’s target customer.
2. The US market is extremely diverse
Given the population and size of the US, each state and region have its own complex consumer and cannot be overlooked as a homogenous audience. Purchasing habits, distribution systems and distinct tastes are examples of factors to consider within each geographical location to consider in different locations!
3. Australian and American customers have their differences
While Australian and American consumers are culturally similar, this doesn’t necessarily mean that what works in the Australian market will directly translate into the US, so be open to making variations and tweaking your product slightly to cater to the new market. At Blushing Confetti, we saw a demand in the US for more personalised product offerings rather than generalised products back home. To solve this, we created three customisable journals offering the opportunity to add unique touches which can’t be found in your average stationery product. Identifying this and delivering this to our new customers played a key role in establishing our brand overseas.
4. Be prepared to pitch
Preparation is so important in any business venture, particularly in overseas expansion. For Americans, time is money, so know your profit margins, sales forecasts, pricing and logistics and have your marketing collateral and hero products with you. Presenting a clear understanding of your business and product will support your pitch and best exemplify the value both you and your products have to bring.
5. Persist, persist, persist
Acknowledge the decision-makers are constantly bombarded with sales pitches and meetings with wholesalers and therefore your market success depends on your persistence. Follow up after a meeting and reach out again – be a pain in their butt! Diversifying the channels you use to deliver your message can also increase your chance of getting noticed, and nailing that 30-second elevator pitch is equally as important. Even the smallest of retailers expect and value determination, so don’t assume no reply means no interest.
Ellen Powell, Founder and Creative Director, Blushing Confetti