Atterley Chairman Mike Welch OBE with Sarah Murray, owner of Jane Davidson in Edinburgh
Atterley, an online luxury fashion marketplace, has been exporting since it launched to help independent boutiques to fulfill international orders. Mike Welch OBE, Chairman of Atterley.com tells BQ how the company started trading internationally.
This 'Around the World in 80 Trades' feature coincides with the annual HSBC Scottish Export Awards in association with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is being held on 22 March in Glasgow. For information on the event, to nominate or to buy tickets, click here.
What does your company do?
Atterley is an online luxury and premium fashion marketplace for boutiques.
When was your company launched, who by and why?
I started the business at the end of 2016 having identified that customers wanted to have their fashion demands met by independent retailers, supporting the shop local movement.
How long has the company been exporting?
The business has been exporting for as long as it has been running, with the demand for the designer labels coming from global customers. This meant that the business logistics have had to be ready for exporting from very early on in our existence.
What do you currently export, and where to?
Our full range of clothing, accessories and footwear is available for export to any country in the world.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
The opportunity to have local independent boutiques fulfill international demand motivated me to start trading internationally.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
Our logistics partners and their international networks have allowed us to fulfill customer orders efficiently, this has been a great help when beginning to export.
And the most challenging part?
I would say that the most difficult part of the exporting process is handling returns, especially when customers are returning from different regions.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Unfortunately, these problems can go hand-in-hand with the territory. When you add in local holidays you need to make sure that the customer gets their order in line with the delivery schedule - this can be a constant challenge. We are always looking at ways we can improve and refine our offering to customers.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
Our logistics partners have been hugely helpful, as have the government support bodies.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Always do your homework, and make sure to ask plenty of questions. There will be lots of people who will try to put up barriers, but you have to keep focused on the prize.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in five years' time?
We are exporting from other countries, and every time we open up boutiques in new countries we come up with new challenges and new solutions to those challenges.