The fashion industry is one of the most vibrant and creative sectors in Europe. Many European fashion brands have managed to defend their position in the global market despite the Covid crisis, and the market is expected to recover in 2023. Focus on Scandinavia, which has become a fashion market and is home to some of the most renowned brands.

What is required for a successful entry into the Scandinavian market? Angelique de Rousseau, Account Manager at Webhelp Payment Services in Scandinavia, shares her expert insights on the local market – green sustainability, e-commerce, wholesale, sales agents… All you need to know to export your brand to Scandinavia.

What kind of fashion brands perform best in Scandinavia at the moment ? 

Green sustainability is the first trend that comes to mind. Scandinavian consumers are very fond of products made from recycled materials. Actually, we are proud to be working with some of the most committed brands in a sustainable and cruelty free approach.
From a fashion point of view, minimalist styles are a must, and as springtime is approaching, more colors will be appearing. We also see a lot of fleeces for an outdoor look, oversized long blazers, wide pants, experimental knitwear, and items with cut-outs.

Which distribution channels would you suggest to a brand wishing to establish itself in Scandinavia ? 

Of course e-commerce is a channel that a brand should investigate, although there is fierce competition online. Increasingly, consumers have high expectations when it comes to the quality of service from online stores, such as delivery time, freight charges (free delivery and free returns) or payment methods (buy now pay later options). For instance, the online store has a great understanding of customers’ needs and offers fast delivery times and free returns compared to the other online stores. They are one of the biggest accounts I currently manage when it comes to online shopping and aim to become the biggest in Scandinavia.

Then, Wholesale is a great way for a brand to break into the market. As a matter of fact, we are currently working with different brands who use this channel and perform very well!

Finally, your favourite local retailer is very popular here, as it is in line with the growing demand for ethical and responsible businesses. We had several reports from our retailers advising us they had great support from their most loyal customers through the lockdowns. Some of them even made record sales in 2021 compared to the previous years! Of course the lockdowns during the pandemic were hard on retailers, hence the importance of mutual understanding which was key to maintaining good relationships with brands. During this period it was important for suppliers to show understanding, agree to postpone due dates, accept to work on recovery payment plans when needed, and provide support until business could turn around.

This difficult time also strengthened the relationships between retailers, brands and Webhelp Payment Services as we all had a mutual understanding that we were in the same boat and needed each other to come through this situation together. At Webhelp Payment Services, we believe that having a good relationship with retailers is key to doing good business. They are always welcome to contact us for any query on their accounts. It is also a significant time saver, as we are able to address several brands in one call. Sometimes retailers call on me as they are seeking inspiration for new brands for their store, or the other way around, they suggest that we work with new brands. Thanks to our extensive knowledge of the market, we are able to advise them and put them in contact with a specific brand.

What are the preferred payment methods?

All payments we process are Sepa transfers and the most common payment term is 30 or 60 days net. However, we do also receive payment plans by standing order or advance payment before delivery. As for cheques, they are a museum artefact in Scandinavia!

Does Webhelp Payment Services work with sales agents?

Yes we do! The sales agent role is to promote the brand to the right channels, take the orders and manage any potential discrepancy with the order. They are a key player as they act as a mediator between the brands and the buyers. To name a few, we collaborate with Gruppo Vulpe, Infinite agency and Rishøj de Lorenzo, with whom we have been working for more than 15 years! What makes the success of such a lasting partnership is that we help them focus on their core business by taking care of the payment processes. Thanks to 35 years of experience, we are able to react fast in case of disputes or disagreements with the accounts. Actually, most of the issues can be solved internally, with the assistance of the agent to help understand their client’s behaviour.
I would like to add that a good relationship with the agent can evolve even further and generate business growth as we can build bridges between agents and brands. Indeed, sales agents often reach out to us and inquire about new brands we are connected to and that could be of interest for them. When a perfect match is found, it’s a win-win situation for us, the agents, and the brands!

To conclude, I believe Scandinavia is a vibrant market especially for the fashion industry and you shouldn’t hesitate to export your brand! By having a professional, open-minded approach and keeping in mind Scandinavians expectations of receiving a high standard of service, you will enjoy a successful entry into the market and in return you’ll find loyal partners in the long run.

With 35 years of experience in fashion and luxury, Webhelp Payment Services can be both a personal advisor and a facilitator, not only for department stores and e-commerce platforms, but also for retail distribution. We are currently working with 1000 ready-to-wear brands with a network of 35,000 stores in Europe and the United States.

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