FASHION CONNECT: Publisher Q&A with Runawayshop.ru
posted by Julia Szuhay - Publisher Recruiter • 20 Feb 2013
Pioneer in the fashion industry – The Runwayshop.ru
With an increasing number of publishers broadening their businesses across Europe to bring their offering to a bigger and bigger audience, many of them are missing a trick. Markets such as France, Germany, UK, Spain and Italy are usually a priority, but very few publishers take advantage of the 68m people online in Russia.
One of the reasons for this is the lack of affiliate programs on offer which seems to limit their ability to generate online sales revenue. However, Russian consumers are used to purchasing from abroad and there are a number of programs which deliver to Russia and can generate significant affiliate revenue to the publisher.
Alexander, the founder and director of Milanstyle.co.uk, has recently launched a website specifically for the Russian market. He is taking the existing model to a brand new audience to the East. Alexander talks about what he has learnt so far:
- What motivated you to open in the Russian market?
It was an obvious market but interesting challenge for us.
The western market for fashion affiliates is more or less saturated now I believe. Expansion must now lie in new markets or at least with new technologies.
I have always been obsessed with catering to under-served markets well. My clients have long told me of their desire to grow their base in Russia, especially as the growth is forecasted to be exponential in this market. But it must be done well and with high standards, as always.
One thing to remember though is that this is not a gold-rush. We forecast gradual growth, but the main objective for 2013 is simply to be in this space ready to serve the market as it matures and to continue to grow organically in the meantime. There is still a reluctance for any nationality to buy a product from an international retailer just as there is with British and European shoppers buying goods from America, or even outside their own country.
- Runwayshop.ru is offering a broad range of luxury brands for the wealthy Russian woman. How difficult did you find it to get the best brands on board?
For us it’s very easy because we have excellent relationships with all of our existing clients. We also are growing direct relationships with many of the fashion houses themselves – clients and fashion houses trust us with their brand because we completely immerse ourselves in their brand before featuring them on any of our properties. We do everything with complete integrity because we are in this for the long haul – so as much as we want to please our website visitors – we also want to represent our client’s brands with absolute authenticity and to the same standards that their marketing departments would.
We’re on first name terms with the marketing staff behind many of the fashion world’s household names like Gucci and Alexander McQueen already and they are fully supportive of our vision.
It would be incredibly difficult to launch a project of this scale without the engagement and encouragement of such brands because inevitably those who don't have those relationships in place will ultimately face legal challenges from anxious marketing departments wanting to rightfully protect their luxury brand’s online reputation.
- Some merchants are not brave enough to expand into the Russian market as the delivery can be unreliable. How did you solve this issue?
Yes this is the issue on every ecommerce retailer’s mind when it comes expanding eastwards and to order fulfilment. We find that the major Russian cities are well serviced by the major couriers, however, less so in the smaller provinces. This is less of an issue for us, purely because we believe that Russia’s wealthiest shoppers whom we target will already be based in the major cities. The other issue though is import tax – the most progressive international retailers will be shipping on a DDP basis (delivery duty paid), which means there are no nasty surprises for the customer on the parcel’s arrival because they have already paid any required import tax on basket checkout.
- What are the main differences that you have already experienced between the UK and Russian online ecommerce industry?
They are obsessed with Western luxury brands which are the mind-set in which we always approach our presentation to them. Thankfully the obsession with ‘getting a deal’ or ‘discount vouchers’ is not prevalent over there, so our focus is always on catering towards the affluent and those with a deep understanding of luxury.
- What are your plan for the rest of the year?
As always it’s growth and expansion and finding new ways and new partnerships to enable this.
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