Q&A: Going Global with Ettitude

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 18 Jun 2019

We speak to Ettitude’s Founder, Phoebe Yu, about scaling to the US, her top tips for global growth and how to avoid the pitfalls of expansion.

Ahead of Online Retailer Conference & Expo, we speak to Phoebe Yu, CEO & Founder, Ettitude about scaling for growth and global expansion:

Tell us a bit about the Ettitude journey.

I founded Ettitude in 2014 with the mission to offer a better alternative to the existing bedding on the market. The business was really bootstrapped and we found ways to scale while being mindful of how to monetise that growth. For example, once we’d gained some momentum early on, we used crowdfunding platforms to fund new product lines and expand our offering. We launched into the US market in November 2017, and have grown revenue by 10x in the region since our first sale. Ultimately, the US market was the right choice for us because its market was primed for a brand like Ettitude, and the size of the region’s market offered us the ability to grow at pace.

Have you launched in any other global markets?

Not formally, however we do sell globally from our US and Australian web stores.

How should brands and retailers prepare for cross border trade? How do you know which market is right for expansion?

There are a number of things to consider when considering launching into new markets. There can often be fees and complex tax and legal requirements  associated with exporting and importing goods, so factor that in to your logistics plan and budget. Determining where you should direct your focus for expansion is an exercise in research and insight. I would start by asking yourself if you’re confident there’s demand for your brand, or a brand like it, in a new market. It’s vital to understand your potential consumer as well as you can, and consider what your point of difference will be. For us, the decision to expand into the USA and Canada market was natural and low risk because we already saw many orders came from that region to buy on our Australian web stores. So we opened our USA web stores to serve that need.

What’s the timeline for launching to the US?

We officially launched our USA website in Nov 2017. But before that we spent months working on finding the right 3PL logistic partner to warehousing our inventory and do order fulfilment for us and prepare initial stocks for this new market.

What are the pitfalls to avoid when launching to the US?

For almost half of the time in 2018, we had a bit of an ‘out of stock’ problem because we didn’t foresee such a quick growth rate, so the whole supply chain took sometime to catch up. But we had solved that problem before the holiday season of 2018. So, definitely prepare your supply chain ready to scale before entering into such a big market. 

What are the differences between Australia and the US when it comes to finding investors and launching your brand?

I would say it is a bit easier to find investors in the US. Like there are more consumers in the US, there are also more investors and VC funds there too. They are also less risk averse. All our funds raised so far are from US investors. There are also more non-dilute working capital options in the US market that offer start-ups fund for marketing and inventory need.

What are your top tips for launching to the US?

  • Get your logistics in order before launching! This is vital to ensure you give your new market a smooth and effective customer experience.
  • Get to know the local competition so that you can tailor and clarify your message and point of difference
  • Stay true to the native essence of your brand, but know how you can scale it to meet the needs of the US market

What are some things you know now that you wish you’d known before you expanded to the US?

To prepare more stock in advance!

What are the most vital elements when you have a global presence? Is it about the people, technology, logistics partners….where do you need to focus your efforts to ensure you’ve got the right support?

Having a team of people embedded within each of your brand’s regions will mitigate the risk of losing touch with the ‘temperature’ of the local market on the ground. Technology also allows for seamless communication between teams, and there are a plethora of apps and platforms that enable this. Every brand will need to focus on different things depending on the nature of its output, but if you can ensure communication and insight is always up to date, the challenges of operating globally become more manageable. 

Phoebe Yu will be speaking on the topic Global focus: Practical tips to expanding your brand to the USA. To see the full agenda for Online Retailer Conference & Expo (to be held 24-25 July at the ICC Sydney) or to buy tickets, click here.