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Redbubble pursues European growth strategy

Redbubble has announced it will open a new office in Berlin in early 2017, the first European outpost for the Melbourne-based e-commerce marketplace. The company also recently launched German, French and Spanish language versions of its website to support independent artists and customers in Europe.

These changes signal a period of rapid international growth for the marketplace, which sells apparel, bags, smartphone and laptop cases, wall art and other products printed with the unique designs of over 400,000 independent artists.

Europe is the fastest growing market for Redbubble and accounts for 27 per cent of its sales. The plan to open an office there has been in the works for over two years Redbubble’s chief operating office, Barry Newstead, told Internet Retailing.

“We’ve been laying the groundwork for over two years before taking the formal step of opening an office,” Newstead said. “Putting together the foreign language sites has taken quite a lot of time, and we have also been building a supply chain, so we can deliver our products to customers on a competitive basis.”

Faster delivery times and reduced shipping costs have always been a priority for the company, Newstead told Internet Retailing. “We decided that if we want to be competitive in Europe we can’t be shipping from the Midwest of the US. That’s not an effective strategy.” Newstead also acknowledged that Amazon has set a new standard for the delivery speed of online orders.

The company has taken a measured approach to establishing an office in Europe, thanks to lessons learned in 2011 when it opened its first international office in San Francisco. “What we found to be successful in the US was building a team slowly from the foundations, not flying in a bunch of Aussies and just throwing a ton of resources at them,” Newstead said.

The team in Berlin will also start small with local employees who understand the European market. Redbubble has hired Sandra Yonter to oversee the team as its European director of new market development.

Newstead has not ruled out further expansion, but for now the focus is on Europe. “We may open an office in Asia, but again, I think it would probably take a few years to lay the groundwork,” he said.

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