Jeroen Adriaans, owner of Bamigo, is at the beginning of several foreign adventures with his start-up in bamboo undergarments. The ambitions are clear: "Within about three years, I want to have covered Europe. Through meticulous data analysis, Adriaans is increasingly plotting the international route.
'We have grown fast and are busy expanding abroad, but that is still in the early stages,' the entrepreneur emphasizes. 'The focus right now is on six countries, which is where I want to expand first, before we move on to the rest of Europe. We are currently evaluating in each of those countries. I want to approach each country in its own language, employees have been hired for that purpose. Shipping is done from our own distribution center in the Netherlands, from there we deliver throughout Europe. Every month we sell to about thirty countries, spread throughout Europe and beyond. Any country that buys is welcome. As an entrepreneur, you have to research and discover the market well: where is the consumer's need and how can you best respond to it? In every country the customer reacts differently.'
'German suspicious but loyal'
Choose your customer
"I look very strongly at behavior and cultural differences and from there I plot my marketing strategy. I think when you're looking at expanding your business into another country, you really have to look closely at the unique qualities of your product and at consumer behavior in different countries. Where do you best connect to the need, where should you start? We've been active in Belgium for about a year and a half and we're starting to get a foothold there, we're now also advertising on television. Our product is sustainable, so I started looking at the Nordic countries, where consumers are green-oriented and are therefore an interesting target group for me. We have been selling there for just under six months now and our product is meeting the demand well.'
Adriaans makes that need measurable by looking at different types of data that Web store traffic provides. 'I'm a real analyst, I look strictly at data. What is the return on investment, what is the minimum I need? From there I want to turn one euro into two, and two into four. We remain a start-up of 2.5 years, but through our approach we make well-considered decisions. Risks remain, but I try to limit them by good analysis, which is key with us.'
Crossborder business is not always easy; especially when, in addition to a cultural difference, you encounter other obstacles in gaining customer trust. 'I have a new product and a new brand. Before this, nobody knew the product 'bamboo underwear' and the brand Bamigo was also unknown. If you are a new brand with a well-known product like a cotton shirt, a customer knows better in advance what to expect. As soon as we mention that we use bamboo as a textile, it raises questions and that sometimes causes customers to become more cautious and want to look deeper into it before a purchase. By offering good service and flexible terms and conditions, I try to remove that barrier for a new customer, because I am convinced that he will not leave after the first order. I also see that happening internationally. Customers come back very often, we have few returns'.