Having evolved from a classical French mail order company into an international digital company, La Redoute is in a position to look back at years of strategic planning and experimenting in order to profitably seize the opportunity of the global online market. Michael Truluck, CEO of La Redoute International, shared his views during the Cross-Border Summit in London on May 24th, hosted by eCommerce Worldwide.
180 years old
Although 90 percent of La Redoute’s business is nowadays digital, the traditional catalog of the 180-year-old company is still around: It plays a small but not unimportant part of the marketing mix, but above all it is legacy, says Truluck. With 26 localized webshops and a .com site that offers delivery to many parts of the world, La Redoute is taking international business very seriously. In recent years, La Redoute has ramped up investment in cross-border business as demand has risen and barriers are diminishing.
Not all international trade is strictly ‘cross-border’
According to Truluck, not all of La Redoute’s international trade can be strictly called cross-border: In order to serve international customers, La Redoute operates three strategies, depending on market size and opportunity: Certain countries are run by subsidiaries with a local team in place. Others are covered by franchises, which are attached but independent local businesses. La Redoute works with franchises in 14 countries. “This is a real B2B relationship,” explains Truluck.
Last but not least, a range of countries are served from France in what Truluck calls “a real cross-border- way”. One of these countries is Italy. Also, the dotcom-website, which offers shipping to a wide range of countries, is operated from France.
Focus on customer experience
Offering the customer a seamless and rewarding journey is a main goal of La Redoute, which is why customer service is localized for all key markets, taking into account the different ways customers wish to interact with a brand. On top of that, the fulfilment and returns process is constantly optimized and adapted to local demands: “We strive to optimize the speed with which we reintegrate returns into stock and make them available again,” explains Truluck, adding: “We also offer very local propositions, such as a try-on service in Russia”. According to the expert, communication and transparency are key factors when it comes to customer satisfaction: Even if delivery times are long, being upfront about it will prevent frustration on the side of the customer.
Before seizing new opportunities, the new market is carefully reviewed. Franchises are a good option for complicated markets, as they invest their own money and bring local know-how and a local network, being at the same time able to make use of the mother company’s economies of scale. Marketplaces are also an option to test a new market. “However, you don’t own the customers you gather through marketplace sales, so once you start your own platform, they are harder to recuperate,” says Truluck.
Michael Truluck believes in La Redoute’s 3-F strategy: French style, Fantastic Service, Fair prices. In order to bring this mantra along the company’s brand identity to all subsidiaries and franchises, the company engages in knowledge exchange: Visiting the different local offices, communicating the central values and messages, but also learning from their practices in order to share best practices across all stakeholders.