From vegan bacon to charcoal-based teeth whiteners, these inspiring Aussie startups partnered with Australia Post to hit the international market. Here they share their learnings to help others take flight on the global stage.
1. Connecting with customers
Ash Howard’s obsession with NBA basketball cards sparked the idea to set up a collectable-card shop, initially as a project for his recently retired schoolteacher mum. “My parents, John and Judy, and my uncle, Glenn opened Card Mania in 1993,” says Howard. Starting with collectable cards, the Geelong-based store followed each craze – from Tazos to Pop! vinyl figurines and “whatever was hot in pop culture”.
When Howard joined the family business in 2007, he came armed with a vision for international growth. “I could see a trend to cross-border retail. The business could be a lot bigger than a domestic one but we needed to rebrand and open an online store as well as a bricks-and-mortar store.” The business has now grown into a successful online emporium with everything from Gremlins to lightsabers. “Our business is niche,” says Howard, “but there are people all over the world who are passionate about collecting and we’re specialists so they seek us out.”
“Collectors want to be able to talk to someone on their level,” says Howard of breaking down the online barrier. “We do conventions around Australia and build pop-up stores.” Today Popcultcha sends packages to collectors in places as far away as Denmark and Peru, tracked and traced all the way. From day one, the company partnered with Australia Post, which now sends three trucks a day to pick up as many as 50 cages of Popcultcha merchandise. “There are a lot of moving parts and Australia Post has been super agile and has resourced us to help us grow, whether it’s more trucks or staffing up at the Geelong Business Hub,” says Howard. “They have coped with everything we’ve thrown at them.”
Tip: Partner with people who are flexible
In order to meet deliveries in multiple time zones, flexibility is key for any small business. “Australia Post has worked with us to find solutions for things that don’t fit within the standard network,” says Howard, citing the popular Star Wars lightsaber. “It goes into a long carton and Australia Post ensures it is processed through a separate system.”
2. Make “buy now irresistibly clickable”
How do you go from experimenting with spices on your kitchen table to becoming an international seasoning giant in just a few years? Kjetil Hansen, CEO and founder of Deliciou, says it was about following his passion: the taste of bacon. Hansen used spices and vegetable powders to develop a unique bacon-flavoured seasoning that was vegan, kosher and halal. By the time he appeared on TV series Shark Tank in 2017, his seasoning was already being sprinkled on everything from popcorn to ice-cream.
When he started out, Hansen feared his only customers would be family and friends but he was soon selling more product to fans in the United States and Europe than Australia. He quickly added more flavours and offered free global shipping on orders over $30.
“Overseas customers put a huge value on free shipping,” says Kjetil. “Australia Post’s economy shipping services with tracking allow us to offer free shipping but also tracking information. We saw a 30-plus per cent increase in customer satisfaction scores after we implemented tracking for international parcels.”
Tip: Follow your business around the world
Australia Post’s international tracking service offers customers updates from dispatch to delivery, keeping them informed on the progress of their delivery to help manage expectations and build trust.
3. Meet your customer on their home ground
Maison de Sabré’s sleek leather phone cases, monogrammed in gold foil, were a springboard when Omar and Zane Sabré started the Gold Coast-based business in 2017. Their goal at the time was simple: to pay off Zane’s university tuition fees (Omar was already a dentist, while Zane was studying to become one).
The brothers have since expanded their collection to take a big bite of the luxury accessories market after setting their sights on trading globally early on. “Part of our strategy with being international is that we think global but we act local,” says Zane. “Do market research and understand the demographics of that population and what they typically expect of an online retailer – hone that and make it on-brand for you then execute it really, really well.
“Customers [prefer] paying in their own currency so we doubled down in every single region and that’s how we grew in scale: by tailoring every single store to every single customer.” And fast delivery is a must. “Shipping times are one of the key reasons a new customer will choose to shop with a brand,” says Zane. “Australia Post’s platform and team have been instrumental in facilitating this for us.”
Tip: Send to international customers with confidence
Fact: 77 percent of shoppers have abandoned a purchase due to unsatisfactory shipping options, according to Big Commerce’s 2019 Report: ‘Shipping Delivered, Best Practices and Expectations’. Offering a choice of delivery speeds at different price points is a must.
4. Match your marketing to your market
Born in Melbourne and turning eight this year, activewear company Doyoueven epitomises the power of influencer marketing. The company began with a mission to fill “a gap in the fitness and gym scene for fitted and tapered clothing no-one else offered,” says CEO Ediz Ozturk. No doubt spurred by its own motto – “Leave Your Mark” – Doyoueven has captured the imaginations (and online shopping carts) of fitness fans worldwide, clicking over from a “seven-figure business to an eight-figure business” in 2019, says Ozturk.
Hitting that sweet spot between being distinctive and fitting in, the brand works with local micro influencers who train in their clothing. “We deploy guerrilla marketing campaigns with influencers in regions where we wish to prospect customers,” says Ozturk of the brand, which also markets itself to almost one million followers of its own Instagram account.
Doyoueven also has an Australia Post international specialist, who helped it make the leap to the global big league. “It made sense to expand internationally,” says Ozturk, “especially when the US and Canada are such huge proponents of the fitness industry.”
Tip: Make business a seamless experience
From logistics to payments, Australia Post’s suite of application programming interfaces and technology partners can help you streamline international deliveries and secure cost effective freight.
5. Go big or go home
When young immigrants Nimrod Ganon and Doron Kushlin launched KG Electronic in 2007, they were importing TV brackets from China and on-selling them in Australia. Today, they’re an emporium of the world’s most-wanted products and use marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Catch and Kogan to sell about 2000 items a day.
“We’re a one-stop shop for the customer,” says Ganon. “If I’m searching for different products – a shaver, a baby toy, a Finish dishwasher tablet, a soundbar – I can find all of that and get it from one supplier and not receive four different parcels.”
KG Electronic is growing between 35 and 55 per cent a year and partnered with Australia Post “to manoeuvre to international waters”. Within a couple of weeks of making that decision, says Ganon, the business was ready to “start shipping all over the world”.
Tip: Bank on a trusted brand
As international customers demand certainty that they’re getting what they paid for, the value of Australia Post’s red P logo grows. “That logo on the satchel says, ‘I ordered it from Australia, it came from Australia.’ And they will probably order again,” says Ganon.
6. Boost confidence from product to parcel
Like many highly successful entrepreneurs, Mathew Vivona started Carbon Coco to slip into a gap in the market: natural, chemical-free, sustainable teeth-whitening products. He started making them on his back porch in Melbourne in 2015 and quickly hit paydirt globally.
“American and Chinese people love Australian products – having the quality that’s associated with Australia is what we are going for when we ship overseas,” says Vivona. “There hasn’t been a country that I haven’t seen an order go to!”