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Rocking all over the world: Going global in retail


Louis Armstrong once thought to himself, “what a wonderful world”, and he was right on the money. Louis mentions a lot of great things about the globe in his 1967 hit, but in 2019 I bet he could write that song again purely about what the world has to offer to retailers. 

Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit, but if nothing else he’s lent me a good intro to talking about the globalisation of retail and the opportunity it presents.

Before the dawn of the digital era, being able to sell to customers outside of your own territory was nigh on impossible, especially for mid-sized and smaller retailers. If you didn’t have the resource to have a physical footprint in another country, then you could forget it. With the dawn of the world wide web, the opportunities for retailers of all shapes and sizes to operate globally came knocking, and it’s easy to see why brands were keen to open the door.

Simply put, being able to offer products in multiple geographies exposes retailers to many more potential customers. And with more customers comes more sales, more revenue and more demand. The more people who see and are exposed to a brand, the more people can be converted into loyal customers. Global brands are also undeniably great for the consumer. After all, who doesn’t want more choice, across multiple markets?

So, the big question is – why aren’t all retailers going global?

Unfortunately, operating internationally has historically come with cost and, perhaps worse, admin. Lots of it. For a start, opening a bank account in a foreign market is (take it from me) a nightmare. Most banks will require businesses to have a physical footprint in the country before they allow you to bank with them, and for medium and smaller sized brands this is a big investment, a big commitment, and potentially a big risk.

So what if you instead trial a digital offering in another territory, negating the need for a foreign banking relationship? Whilst this sounds like the easy way forward as long as you are willing to ship internationally, it comes with its own headaches. For example, if brands don’t want to invest money in a local website before knowing if there will be sufficient demand for their products in another country, then they must take the hit on the exchange rate when customers buy in their local currency. Believe me, the cost of international transactions is enough in itself to be off-putting.

The good news is that there are ways around this – and as it happens, Laybuy is one of them. We built Laybuy as a global brand from day one, and so international payments are in our DNA. Brands that partner with Laybuy, so long as they are able to ship internationally, are able to operate across borders without any further steps needing to be taken. No foreign bank account needed. No localised website required. Customers see prices transparently in their local currency regardless of location.

Sound too good to be true? I promise it’s not. Let me explain with an example. A British retailer wants to start selling to customers in New Zealand. The customer in New Zealand pays for a product by Laybuy using the retailer’s existing website. The retailer ships the product. Laybuy receives the payment and absorbs the foreign exchange fee into the commission already agreed with the retailer. Laybuy pays the retailer in pounds. No surprises. No multiple exchange rates complicating the books. No cost to the retailer. No admin.

Plus there’s the benefit that Laybuy brings with it a ready-made pool of customers already signed up to use the platform. In the case of New Zealand, this is 8% of the total voting population of the country. Not too shabby, who doesn’t want to have instant exposure to a potential customer base of that scale?

If I do say so myself, it’s a fantastic way for brands to go global without the hassle. Even for retailers planning to commit more investment in international trading in the future, this provides a commitment-free testing period to gain insights as to how a brand is received in another market, before honing and following with perhaps a physical store, or a local website dedicated to that territory.

We offer this at Laybuy because being a global brand is important to us, and we understand how much of a gamechanger globalisation can be for retailers. Get in touch and see how we can help your brand to go global. It’s a cliché – but the world really is your oyster.

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Gary Rohloff