Last week we launched Shoes of Prey in Russia - www.shoesofprey.ru. Earlier in the year we had received an email from Leighton Prabhu, a Canadian native and former Pricewaterhouse Coopers manager living in Moscow. Leighton now runs a consulting business advising and helping companies launch in to the Russian market, and he was interested in taking on the Russian operations for Shoes of Prey. Jodie and I met with Leighton when we were in London in July and we all clicked immediately. Leighton has a great understanding of online retail and already knew the difficulties we'd been facing converting our Russian traffic into sales.
Russia has been our 10th largest country by visits to Shoes of Prey, but way down the list in terms of the number of sales. Some of the issues with converting our Russian traffic include:
- Language barriers
- Shipping - despite being connected to China geographically, Russia is one of the most expensive countries in the world to ship our shoes to from China, and recently DHL stopped shipping to personal addresses in Russia. Having someone on the ground we can ship to who on-ships shoes to Russian customers where required, and who can receive returned shoes will be a big help.
- Customs - Russian customs can be a minefield, from what we've experienced and read it's not a very well organised or efficient operation. Having someone on the ground who can help out when there are customs issues will be a big help.
- Payment methods - Russia is one of the epicentres of worldwide credit card fraud and for that reason, credit cards aren't regularly used for online shopping in Russia. There are a number of alternative payment methods that are used in the market like cash on delivery and kiosk systems. Having Leighton on the ground to help us organise these will help.
We launched Shoes of Prey last Friday night at a fashion event in Moscow. The event "Fashion Passion" was held at Club Rai, one of Moscow's leading clubs, and we had the chance to unveil our brand to over 500 party goers. Leighton has hired Olia Lykahovets to help running Shoes of Prey in Russia. Olia has experience working on the marketing brand team of a major international consumer goods company, and has recently earned a Master's degree in Economics (Université Paris-X and the State University Higher School of Economics). She will focus on PR in the Russian market.
Shoes of Prey Russia joins Shoes of Prey Japan as a market where we've partnered with local firms to localise the Shoes of Prey offering. The strategy for now is not to roll out local operations in too many countries but focus on markets where we think the concept would work, but localisation is essential for that to happen and even then only do that when we find local partners with the skills to manage the operations well.
Welcome to the team Leighton and Olia, we're excited to be working with you and look forward to offering Russian women the opportunity to design their own shoes!