Looking to expand into the US market? Many fashion brands have, but not all of them succeed. While the benefits are pretty obvious, with the US being a huge market with plenty of keen online shoppers, there are many pitfalls to look out for. For this post, let’s talk about the reasons why your successful UK brand, left as is, would fail to thrive in the US. Below are suggestions for possible reasons for such failure and what you can do to make it work.

Failure reason #1: The basics

Americans are at the forefront of online shopping and are savvy Internet users. They don’t like to pay over the odds for shipping and can be put off by international shipping costs, taxes and custom fees, as well as foreign terminology. Although the UK is considered a trusted country to buy from, buyers may well be put off by longer waits and higher costs associated with international shipping, so if you want to stay competitive you’ll need to match or beat your competitors in fulfillment or, failing that, offer very unique added value to make US shoppers buy from you regardless. Niche brands and brands that have a distinct “British” style can definitely play on that to attract customers, but even those would fail if delivery takes too long.

Another basic element to think about is whether your site geared only or mostly towards UK and/or European shoppers. If you’re not presenting prices in US dollars, you’re onto a loser. Nobody wants to calculate costs while shopping. If you’re aiming for the American market, you’ll want your potential customers to be able to instantly tell how much something costs. Offering payment options such as Paypal can also be an advantage, as Paypal is a trusted brand, which may put US shoppers at ease, saving them the perceived hassle of dealing with a foreign company for payments.

Failure Reason #2: Wrong language and tone

Yes, we all speak English, but American English is different, meaning some terminology is not going to carry with American shoppers. If you’re trying to attract American shoppers, make an American section or subsection of your site and take the time to implement not just language basics but also the right tone for your American target audience. The language your American buyers will respond to may be quite different from what UK shoppers favour. If you have newsletters, make sure they are also geo-targeted so your customers in the US can get offers that are relevant to them, in a language they understand without making a grab for the British – American dictionary.

US targeted banners and other advertising materials are also a good way to attract American consumers to your site. Designs aimed at the American market can sometimes be different from the UK ones, so it’s worth researching whether such changes are relevant to your brand.

Reason for Failure #3: Misunderstanding the market

The UK and the US are different in the way they view brands and the shopping experience. While in the UK voucher codes and discounts can be seen to devalue the brand and are therefore used sparingly by the more upmarket brands, in the US such codes and discounts are considered good business and are well received by consumers. Not making use of such opportunities to court customers can leave you at a disadvantage.

Reasons for Failure #4: Missing out on opportunities of promotions

Americans love holiday deals and your competitors are most likely already riding the wave. You too should be following the American calendar and increase your activity around the holidays, which are traditionally the busiest times of the year in US retail.

Offline promotions that tie in with your online presence and partnering with local brands, celebrities, etc. that are already well known will also help you get your brand known and help it gain credibility if it’s new to the US.

Want to see how we help fashion businesses succeed in an increasingly competitive and continually growing sector? Drop us a line, we’d be happy to share our experience.