February 11, 2014, 9:52 AM

Modnique speaks fashion lovers’ languages

With more than half of Modnique’s sales coming from international shoppers with minimal effort from the retailer, Modnique decided to invest resources in its top foreign markets, such as Russia. Nearly one-third of U.S.-based retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide ship to Russia, according to Top500Guide.com data.

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Fashion lovers span the entire globe. Just ask 3-year-old online clothing retailer Modnique. 55% of its sales hail from outside the United States, says Ivka Adam, the retailer’s vice president of marketing and mobile. That’s in part because the retailer, based in Redondo, CA, has shipped to 150 countries since its launch.

To better serve more potential customers outside the United States, Modnique is rapidly expanding its global footprint; last month it launched localized sites for online shoppers in Australia, Canada, Ukraine and Belarus. This follows its first foreign site launch, aimed at Russian customers, in November 2013. 

“Our site is very appealing in parts of the world where fashion may not be as accessible, like the Ukraine,” Adam says.

Modnique is one of many U.S.-based retailers that realizes the value in shipping to foreign consumers—and not just those in easy to target countries like Canada or the United Kingdom, according to e-commerce data available on Top500Guide.com. For example, nearly a third, 162, of the 500 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide ship to Russia.

Consumers are increasingly shopping online in Australia, another country Modnique is targeting. For example, the 22 Australia-based retailers ranked in the 2013 Asia 500 grew their collective online sales around 32.4% in 2012, from $866.4 million to $1.15 billion. And the seven apparel and accessories retailers in the guide that Modnique will compete with in the region grew their collective sales 20.9% from $128.8 million to $155.7 million. The four Australian apparel and accessories retailers in the Asia 500 that sell only online grew 23.1% from $79.6 million to $98.0 million, Top500Guide.com shows.

In its overseas efforts, Modnique aims to tailor its on-site experience to each region’s specific needs. For example, when necessary the retailer developed foreign-language versions of the sites for each country it has entered, and added local currency. It also began offering country-specific promotions and marketing for each localized site. Consumers in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus celebrated holidays such as Russian Students Day and Orthodox Christmas in January, so the retailer offered sales and promotions surrounding the holidays. Additionally, unlike the United States where the polar vortex is in full force, it is summer in Australia, so the retailer is sure to offer an assortment of warm-weather gear on its Australian site.

The project to create local sites took about five months, Adam says. Modnique designed and launched the sites in-house and didn’t have to hire any new developers. It uses a shopper’s IP address to determine the language and currency to display, but shoppers can also manually change the site via a drop-down menu.

Modnique hired local marketing and public relations firms to help it market its brand in Australia and Canada and hired marketing staff in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to help drive sales in those regions. The extra staffers in each of those countries update the foreign sites to better speak to those international shoppers.

Modnique also began buying online ads, such as paid search ads, in foreign countries. In Russia, it promoted the new version of the site by advertising on fashion forums that shoppers visit to exchange tips and gossip. Modnique also sent out e-mails with discounts on international shipping to its foreign customers to advertise and drive traffic to the new sites.

On Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving, 8% of sales and 18% of total traffic to Modnique came from Russia, second only to the United States that day. Russia and Ukraine are Modnique's fastest-growing regions in terms of sales and the retailer’s biggest international markets in terms of sales are Australia, Canada and Russia in that order, Adam says. If Russia were a U.S. state, it would be the highest grossing state for Modnique, the retailer says.

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