I was fortunate to attend the recent Go Global trade mission to Berlin, organised by Enterprise Nation, along with a number of our Start Up Loan designers.
The three day trip was designed help brands planning to export, explore the Berlin and wider German market. It comprised of a packed programme of meetings and presentations from industry experts, cumulating in a pop-up shop for the designers to showcase their products.
Designer Lilly-Joe Cullen from Vintage Licks took part, as winner of our competition for an all-expenses paid place on the mission, sponsored by Start Up Loans*. Our Start Up Loan alumni were out in force as I was also joined by loan recipients Isabelle Ugochukwu from luxury handbag brand Isabella Queen, Rachel James from her eponymous Rachel James menswear label, and Gemma Vanson from womens wear label Rein.
Here are my top 10 tips I learnt from the mission:-
•The German online market is second only to the UK, with the biggest category being clothing and accessories.
•The German customer doesn’t use credit cards as much as we do, and prefers to pay by cash, debit card or on invoice.
•German online customers tend to buy 2 sizes ad return one, so the cost of this must be taken in to consideration when working out your profit margins.
•Anyone planning to open a branch in Germany needs to know that employment law and the use of freelancers differs from the UK, so UK agreements aren’t valid.,
•If you plan to open a pop-up shop for more than 3 months, you’d need to register for German tax/VAT.
•If your export turnover is more than 100K euros to Germany, you have to register for tax.
•If you have strong sales on Etsy, chances are you would sell well on German marketplace Dawanda, which has a similar customer profile.
•Germans are reluctant to order from websites not translated in German – this used to be an expensive process however a new plug-in by Webinterpret is a cost effective way to get your online store converted in to another language – it’s free to use and you only incur costs on what you sell.
•Not Germany related, but the US limit on incurring duty on goods was raised to $800 in March, making selling to the US much more viable
•Paypal’s Returns on Us service, although not yet available to UK customers, is available in 48 countries, so if you sell to any of the countries covered (including US) they cover the cost of returns. This could be a great selling point to improve your export web sales.
As ever, if you’re planning to enter a new territory and want to be successful, it’s important to conduct your market research and find out about your target market and customers. Luckily trade missions such as those run by Enterprise Nation, UKFT & UKTI can help you fast track the process.
We’re also running an Introduction to Export seminar on July 7th with UKFT’s Paul Alger, Director of International Affairs, to talk about how to make the most of trade shows, including the shipping and logistics you need to be aware of. Tickets are going fast but you can book your place here.
By Alison Lewy MBE
Fashion Angel founder and author of Design Create Sell – a guide to starting and running a successful fashion business – available to buy here.