N Brown Group’s sale of its Zendor fulfilment business marks the
completion of its “planned disposal of all noncore
activities”, according to a statement. But the purchase of
Zendor by US-based eCommerce solutions provider GSI Commerce is
part of the latter’s expansion into the European market.
Multi title mailer N Brown, whose catalogue brands include JD
Williams, Fashion World and Premier Man, sold Zendor for
£3.83 million. Zendor will retail its Manchester offices and
report to GSI’s European headquarters in Barcelona.
Although it is best known for its enterprise e-commerce technology platform, GSI also offers fulfilment and call centre services in the US, providing clients-many of whom are bricks-and-mortar retailers new to direct fulfilment–with back-end support for their front-end operations. Now, explained Steve Davis, president and managing director of its international division, “we are going to be replicating our model worldwide. We’re going to be making acquisitions in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and around the world. We are going to be the only global end-to-end eCommerce solutions provider for brands and retailers wherever they are”.
In keeping with its global plans, GSI is also helping US marketers expand into Europe. It recently signed an agreement with menswear retailer Casual Male Retail Group to develop and operate eCommerce sites for its Casual Male XL and Rochester Big & Tall brands in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The websites are expected to be up and running by the 2008 holiday season.
Casual Male’s decision to outsource the development of the European sites speaks to the company’s awareness that overseas expansion isn’t simply a matter of creating a replica of its flagship site, then translating the copy and converting the prices to a new currency. “Some things translate, some things don’t,” Davis said. “We’re focused on providing not just the infrastructure but also the expertise to be successful”.
He also expects more US retailers “to test the waters of the global market by starting online”. And there will be even more traffic going the other way-European marketers entering the US market, especially given the current weakness of the US dollar.
“I have had discussions with some of the largest retailers in Germany, France and the UK” about expanding into the US as well as into other European markets and even Asia. “People want to take advantage of the expertise they have in the categories they serve and take it to a global scale,” Davis said.