June 27, 2012, 2:34 PM

‘Hello, World,’ J.Crew says, via the web

The U.S. retailer is now selling online in 107 countries.

Lead Photo

J.Crew has expanded its international business, launching this year in 78 new markets across the globe. And most of the expansion is through e-commerce―with only two physical stores being added―one in Hong Kong and one in Beijing.

J.Crew is using global e-commerce platform provider FiftyOne Global Ecommerce for shipping and marketing to 107 countries.  The vendor is helping the retailer translate the language, currencies and payment options on its e-commerce site based on where the visitor is coming from.

Backed by a stylish "Hello, World" web marketing campaign, which enlisted the talents of fashion photographers and bloggers Garance Doré and Scott Schuman, J.Crew's strategy involves an enhanced online customer experience.

“We are on a mission to provide customers around the world with the best-of-the-best—we have created an experience that is equally as rich online as in store and are excited to introduce J.Crew to new customers worldwide,” says Millard Drexler, CEO of J.Crew Group Inc.

The “Hello, World” campaign is based around a series of multimedia web articles featuring international magazine editors, photojournalists and fashion boutique owners talking about their favorite J.Crew products and photographed wearing them. The first part of the campaign includes profiles of trendsetters in Spain, Germany, China and Japan, with those from the United Kingdom and France to follow shortly.

The European market is likely to figure significantly in J.Crew's global online strategy, says Jake Hird, senior analyst at independent digital marketing and e-commerce consultant Econsultancy.

43% of consumers in the 27 European Union member countries bought something via the Internet in 2011, marking a year-on-year rise of three percentage points, according to recent research by Eurostat.

The U.K. apparel market is the most developed, with 41% of shoppers in Britain buying clothes online in 2011. “The European online market is very buoyant and there are a lot of opportunities for a company such as J.Crew,” says Hird. “Although in some regions the market is mature, it is nowhere near tipping point. There is still amazing potential for growth. Many European markets feel like the U.K. did eighteen months ago.” 

J.Crew's expansion includes such less developed markets as Slovakia, Latvia, Estonian, Hungary and Slovenia. Pursuing an e-commerce strategy also helps to minimize financial risk in such markets, says Hird.

“Retailers have to consider the level of investment they are prepared to make in certain markets,” he says. “E-commerce allows companies such as J.Crew to reduce risk. This is a trend we will continue to see across all sectors.”

Bricks-and-mortar businesses in Europe are struggling, he says, because the overheads and investment levels are high and therefore stores have a difficult time matching prices of online retailers.

J.Crew is using New York-based e-commerce platform provider FiftyOne Global Ecommerce for its international expansion. The platform allows the retailer to make language and cultural adjustments to cater to each local market and complete sales in 41 currencies including the Swiss Franc, Norwegian Krone, Polish Zloty and Czech Koruna.

FiftyOne can detect where each J.Crew web visitor is coming from and present prices in the appropriate preferred currency. It also calculates appropriate taxes, duties and/or customs fees and accepts various local payment methods worldwide.

Payment acceptance, fraud protection and order fulfillment for J.Crew will all be done though FiftyOne's distribution center in Columbus, Ohio.

J. Crew is No. 56 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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