As La Redoute International CEO, Michael is responsible for leading the company’s French brands outside of France. La Redoute is a market-leading retailer selling French style – fashion and homes products.
Give us an overview of your business
La Redoute is one of France’s best-known retail brands. It’s actually been around for 180 years, starting out as a woollen mill. Over time it evolved into a catalogue business, but we’ve now successfully transformed it into a digital retailer (90% of our business is done through digital). We still have catalogues, though they are primarily used to complement and drive traffic to the site now.
In terms of international presence, we are active in circa 26 countries – although with a .com site you can technically buy from anywhere of course. We have strong appeal for international shoppers as we are selling access to the French lifestyle, through fashion and home categories. Our typical customer is a lady aged 30-50 with children.
How did you approach getting started with cross-border?
There are three ways that we do international, not all are strictly cross-border by definition. Our approach depends on the country, size of opportunity, challenges of trading there etc. For some countries we operate a subsidiary business with a local team in place, some we have a franchise business model and others we fulfil through a cross-border model based out of France.
We started trading internationally through cross boarder seven-to-eight years ago and we’ve had a stronger focus on it recently as we recognise the strong potential for growth that exists in many markets. The barriers to cross-border entry are also lower now, so there’s less risk involved.
Which countries / regions do you currently ship to?
Our primary overseas markets are UK, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Italy. We have franchises in China, Greece, Africa and the Eastern Bloc. The complexity and size of opportunity for the market dictates the kind of model we use. For most of the primary markets we have a localised offering, with local payment options, a translated site, warehouses in some where appropriate and local teams but when you get to that level of presence in a country it isn’t technically cross-border.
Our USP that attracts international customers is that we provide people with access to the French lifestyle, offering a different product type to what is typically available in those markets. We design and manufacture our own products, so they are unique to us and we also make them available at an accessible price. We are committed to providing great experiences throughout the customer journey – including fast delivery.
Do you have any advice for people at early stages of cross-border?
You need to ensure you make well-informed decisions, based on local knowledge, when assigning resource or you’re likely to end up spending money without a very high chance of success. Understand that things are different in other markets – for example La Redoute has 99% awareness in France, but this isn’t going to be the case in Japan. It is essential to get the right team in place, supported by the right budget and with local expertise.
What can people learn from your session at the eCommerce Worldwide Summit?
At my session, attendees will get insight into how an international business is run, as well as the different types of model that you might consider – using subsidiaries, franchises, cross-border fulfilment etc.