Menswear and golf brand Oscar Jacobson has announced it’s investing significantly in an omnichannel approach to retail as it sets out on a mission to expand its business across Europe.
The brand has released details of its business strategy for the next five years, giving export managers and international marketers an insight into this multi-channel approach to localised service.
Read on for a closer look at how the brand’s core-system approach to business could influence your own international export and marketing strategies.
Oscar Jacobson: A background
Oscar Jacobson is already a well-known fashion and lifestyle brand in its native Sweden. The brand also has a small presence in the UK. Aside from its digital reach and a handful of stores and concessions across these countries, the brand’s international business stops there for now. But the company’s recent announcement brings a change of tactics and much more ambitious plans to light.
The business is moving to an omnichannel approach to managing its business systems; a decision that’s set to play a huge part in its international expansion.
The term omnichannel refers to providing the customer a seamless experience, regardless of channel, device or in this case, location. Consumers can now engage with brands in a physical retail store, online via websites or mobile app, through a catalogue, or through social media.
Oscar Jacobson’s goal is to both revive the brand in its homeland and help it to grow across Europe. To do this the retailer has invested in an integrated retail solution from iVend Retail and IT provider Retail Store Scandinavia, which it hopes will create an efficient company-wide base system for all of its critical business operations.
They’ve also hired a dedicated export manager to oversee the logistics of moving the business away from a siloed approach (which is often detrimental) and forward to an open global sales platform.
Breaking it down
Clearly technology is a vital part of this international expansion plan. Although the company has explored the potential of technology in the past by introducing an online shopping portal in both Sweden and the UK, it was limited in functionality and failed to connect stock information between different stores in different regions.
The move to the omnichannel retail solution changes all that. For the staff on the ground, this means easier stock management and less administration work on a day to day basis. For the head office, it’s about oversight and visibility of how each store and region is performing. Instead of looking at each store on an individual basis, they will have a single access point for a real-time view of in-store and online stock for the whole international estate.
But the change is about much more than just streamlined, centralised business operations. With staff freed up from cumbersome stock management and administration, they’re free to focus on doing the best job they can for their customers. This differs by country and city. What busy Londoners expect from their retail experience won’t necessarily match up to the expectations of those in a smaller town in Sweden, Norway or France.
But with the help of technology, the team can localise their service and marketing materials to suit their specific set of customers. The IT upgrade will offer each individual store (regardless of its location) access to real-time customer data across channels to enable more accurate up and cross-selling information based on the behaviour of local customers. This can also be applied right down to an individual level if needed, so staff can deliver a memorable, personal service every time.
At the end of the day, the case of Oscar Jacobson throws into focus the intriguing dichotomy inherent in international expansions. You need to consolidate your business systems and approach on a global level, but your service and presence needs to be more personal and localised than ever.
Oscar Jacobson’s new platform has transformed operations for head office, but a system like this is only any use to the people on the shop floor if it’s localised. This means tailoring it to their requirements, their customers and of course, their language. The company’s work is far from over … if anything it’s just beginning.
Now’s the time for export managers to work carefully with the international marketing team and translation service providers to create localised experiences, promotions, sales and marketing material tailored to each region. The challenge here is to maintain the company’s global standards and voice while considering cultural variations and linguistic differences. Get in touch if you want help with this element of your international business expansion.
Get this wrong and you won’t last long at all in a new regional market. But get it right and the potential is endless.