Luggage brand July are making big moves in the Australian and international retailing landscape. The brand recently opened its new flagship store in Melbourne’s CBD, after launching its e-commerce store in New Zealand. Here, co-founder and CEO Richard Li discusses the process and intention behind July’s foray into the New Zealand marketplace, and how it is seeking to overcome challenges in this space. Li also discusses July’s future expansion plans, announcing a date for its first br
rst bricks-and-mortar store overseas. Inside Retail: Can you discuss why July has decided to launch its e-commerce store in New Zealand? Are there plans to open a bricks-and-mortar store in the future? Richard Li: We’d been offering shipping to New Zealand for a while before we officially launched, and had seen our customer base grow significantly over that time period. Like in Australia, we know that there’s a gap in the market for thoughtfully designed, independently manufactured luggage and travel accessories and so are keen to bring our products over the Tasman Sea. We don’t have plans to open a bricks-and-mortar store just yet, but watch this space because it’s definitely on the cards. IR: How long has July been planning this overseas expansion, and was this delayed by Covid-19 restrictions? RL: We’ve been waiting to launch in Aotearoa for a while! Covid interrupted our expansion plans significantly, for New Zealand and other international markets, but now that everyone is back travelling again we’ve seen incredible growth and significant demand from consumers in Aotearoa. Kiwis, like Aussies, are some of the most prolific travellers, so we’re excited to bring July over here and give our neighbours a new option with better features and unique personalisation. IR: Can you discuss any potential challenges and/or opportunities involved in opening the eCommerce store? RL: It’s important to us to take the time to research and understand the cultural nuances of any new market we enter. Aotearoa has a diverse population with many different cultural backgrounds, so we wanted to make sure we were being mindful in our communication. Prior to launch, we engaged a local copywriter and spoke with friends in the region and Kiwi-founded brands to adapt our marketing strategies and messaging to ensure that we were sensitive and informed and could effectively engage with our audience. IR: Do you think cost of living and inflationary challenges make overseas expansion a more challenging prospect, or does it provide an additional reason to do so? RL: I think it provides a good reason to seek out global expansion sooner. From a marketing perspective, being a global business helps us continue to grow and combat potential cost of living and inflation challenges in Australia. We know that a lot of consumer spending is diverted from homewares and skincare during Covid-19, to travel during recovery, and that is still well underway. Our customers still want to travel and escape. We expect an increase in conscious buying with more thought and research put into the purchases they make. Across all markets, people will always pay for great products that last. IR: Can you discuss the target audience for July in New Zealand? Do you think it’s largely similar to Australia, and are there any key differences? RL: Our target audience in Aotearoa is very similar to Australia. Design-focused creatives, working professionals and tastemakers who want to travel thoughtfully and look good whilst doing it. It’s a similar cohort of individuals, but a smaller one given the population size. IR: Can you discuss July’s long-term strategy for growth in New Zealand and how it fits into the overall business plan? RL: Our growth strategy for Aotearoa is focused on identifying new customers, building relationships with partners, improving brand awareness and establishing a loyal customer base. Overall, every launch has taught us valuable lessons which we’ve been able to implement into our next market entry. We’ve had a global mindset from day one, so this launch, and those to come, are part of our overarching plan for July and our goals for expansion, profitability, and sustainability. IR: Is July planning to open more e-commerce or bricks-and-mortar stores overseas in the near future? RL: We’re launching an e-commerce store in the UK in the middle of the year which we’re really excited about, and actually just started selling our products through Lane Crawford in Hong Kong. This is our first physical presence overseas and it’s going really well so far, so it’s a pretty momentous moment for the brand.