World-wide Peruvian Connection

May 01, 2007 9:30 PM  By

Rich Lloyd, president of women’s apparel cataloger Peruvian Connection, says last year’s relaunch of its U.S. Website and simultaneous introduction of sites for the U.K., Germany, and Japan was necessary to match the quality of the company’s catalog.

“Our catalog is a first-class design experience with world-class fashion, and our [previous] Website didn’t do justice to that brand and that image,” Lloyd says.

After nearly 10 months of planning, Peruvian Connection launched the sites just before Labor Day, on the v5 e-commerce platform from e-commerce solutions provider MarketLive.

“The key was getting it up in time for our holiday catalogs, which we try to get out in September,” Lloyd says. The company mails about 7.5 million catalogs a year in the U.S. and another 6.5 million in Germany, Japan, and the U.K.

“Internationalizing e-commerce presents a tremendous opportunity for leadership and revenue growth that simply cannot happen as quickly in the brick-and-mortar world,” says Ken Burke, founder/CEO of Petaluma, CA-based MarketLive. “However, this also comes with significant operational challenges that most midmarket retailers find difficult to tackle.”

The v5 platform simplifies the creation and maintenance of sites produced in multiple languages by automatically managing localization and internationalization protocols. For instance, the platform gives customers of Peruvian Connection’s German Website the option of paying via debit payments directly from their bank accounts, a preference in that market.

Going local

Having home-country domains was a priority for Tonganoxie, KS-based Peruvian Connection. “We believe it was a disrespect to local customers to not have a locally based domain,” Lloyd says. “It establishes more validity. When you have a local store presence and local domain presence, you are a local company.” Only about half of Peruvian Connection’s sales are from the U.S.

The new system also allows for greater upsell, cross-sell, and search engine marketing capabilities, Lloyd says.

Overall, results have been “about as I’ve expected,” Lloyd says. “As radical a change as we made, we really put our customers through a massive change. There was a period of adjustment where absolute results are flat or even down. Then people get trained on it and understand the benefits, and after five or six months, if you’ve done it right, you start to see the hockey-stick effect” — rapidly increasing exponential growth. “The last few months we’ve seen extraordinary growth.”

For example, the company’s Web business recorded more than 43% year-over-year growth for March. And the German business is “well north of 50%” in year-over-year Web sales, he says. “We’re really seeing the investment pay back.”

Could more international Websites be in store for Peruvian Connection? “As the Web has become a great acquisition vehicle, we clearly attract a lot of noncatalog customers,” Lloyd says. “They don’t have 15-20 years of mailing experience with us, so we need to do a better job of providing content and educating and building that store showcase. We have to show them why Peruvian Connection products are so much better.”

Although it doesn’t mail into those countries, “we have customers in Australia, Singapore, and France,” says Lloyd. “The Web gives us a great opportunity to provide fulfillment channels to some of those countries. In the next few years we may see Peruvian Connection in a lot more geographies.”