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Are you looking to scale and expand in the global market? 

With COVID-19 and travel restrictions, many exporters are faced with the challenge of getting boots on the ground in international markets. 

Businesses and the wider ecosystem they sit in have been disrupted – taking control of the things you can control has never been more important.

We return to our long-form interview format this week to learn the opportunities and pitfalls of exporting in a post-lockdown world from a New Zealand brand who is out there in the world, doing the mahi.

Andy Mitchell (Katabolt Growth Strategist) interviewed Paul Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer of Overdose Digital to find out about the Kiwi exporter’s journey of doubling down to accelerate growth during COVID-19.

Watch the Interview.

While many businesses paused and waited when lockdown hit, others kept moving forward to seize the opportunity presented. One Kiwi services exporter, Overdose, made the conscious decision to double down on growth at a time of uncertainty .

In this week’s Export Recovery Series long-form interview, Andy Mitchell, Katabolt Growth Strategist, speaks with one of our previous panelists who’s come back, not once, not twice, but three times to help shed some light on the opportunities and pitfalls of exporting in a post-lock down world. 

Paul Pritchard, Chief Operating Officer of Overdose, shares his insights on accelerating growth during a time of uncertainty, the challenges and opportunities in the markets for Kiwi exporters, and the importance of being human and having empathy.

One of New Zealand’s most preeminent digital leaders, Paul is a champion of e-commerce and an evangelist for everything about global growth in direct to consumer digital. Overdose. is an as-a-Service Digital Commerce agency with offices in eight countries across the globe. 


The importance of market selection for digital brands and ecommerce

  • The conversations being had today with brands, customers, partners about how they view the world and the new markets, are very much different to what was being had five months ago.
  • Start with research into the market –  assess the relevance of brands for that market, whether there is demand for your offer, or whether it’s actually too risky to go into that market.
  • We can’t expect what we do in New Zealand to be 100% relevant to the US or to Germany or to Ireland, or Singapore. We need local people on the ground who understand who we are and believe in the principles behind it, to translate that into local context.
  • The role of your digital channels has to be considered as a new and different space rather than just a digital replication of your physical channel.
  • Work with partners who can help you see behind the curtain and help to surface information, and shape the questions that you need to ask those new markets. 

Getting boots on the ground in a COVID-19 world

  • Being stuck behind a camera in a laptop and trying to assess whether or not people are the right fit [to work with us] creates a really interesting shift. Businesses need to review how they operate and how scalable they can be through digital technology.
  • The trust factor is the biggest challenge. The more remote you are, the harder you have to work at being human.
  • There’s lots of talent out there in the digital space, but how do we get the right fit for our business? It is a financial investment as well as a human investment. Assessing the humanity and culture side is the most important part.

Doubling down on growth

  • Now’s the time to invest and change because we’re forced to. Now is the absolute best time to go out there and, and start to accelerate.
  • Two types of clients – those businesses who were pausing and waiting and then the flip of that were businesses that tried to make the most of every opportunity that was presented to them.
  • It’s a time to scale, not a time to retrench – Service businesses need to double down to make sure they will continue to exist since this is a time when disruptions are happening and markets have been reset

Marketplace vs Ecommerce

  • Understand what your business needs, first. Do you have a volume challenge or do you want to extend your sales channels?
  • Marketplaces deliver a consumer base that is ready to buy. However, you don’t get that consumer understanding, that feedback loop you potentially need to evolve and be relevant.
  • Ecommerce platforms allow you to scale globally and look at insights and data analysis to understand who that customer is in that market.

Brands with foundational stability in a marketplace can evolve their brand, not exclusively but complementary and into a direct to consumer space. They get flexibility to win and potentially lose in the direct to consumer space, but not risk their volume sales channel as well. 

Is a direct strategy mandatory for New Zealand brands on the global stage?

  • Consumer behavior has been radically turned upside down. There has been a quantum move from bricks and mortar and dependence online but more than that, it’s actually about direct to consumers.
  • The direct model has never been more important because it gives you both an opportunity to sell but also an opportunity to learn and gain feedback from a customer base.
  • Boards dislike going backwards – there’s a relatively straightforward conversation to say in order to mitigate the shortfalls here (loss of revenue), we need to invest in online channels in order to capitalize on this gorgeous opportunity.
  • Some markets need to reconsider going direct to consumer to gain the insights inside of businesses in the market.

What is the trade off between certainty about where a market is going and the need to just get things done?

  • A rational data driven approach – analyze and understand the consumer behavior and the activity that’s going on from a data sense and using that to paint a picture of what could be in the future.
  • Looking at that global shift of consumer behavior – if we’re not actively pursuing a digitally centric strategy for our business enabling ourselves to interact with customers directly, then we’re never going to make use of the opportunity.
  • We talk a lot about opportunities, but it’s less about an opportunity. It’s more about force change, or catalytic change. Catalytic change is the type of environment where you just must go through that process. If you don’t, you’re left behind. If you do you have a chance.

Using data analysis, and insights to understand the human needs of your consumer base

  • Understanding your consumer base is critical. Just selling volume is not enough. If you’re pivoting your entire business model, you’ve also got to bring the elements that drive long term sustainable value as well.
  • Pre-COVID-19 there was a very cookie cutter approach to launch into the US or to launch into the UK. Now that whole approach has been turned upside down. Brands and services have more responsibility now to be more relevant.
  • Understanding search intent is a really easy way of diving into what those local, hyperlocal consumer bases are really looking for, and then translating your brand into that consumer intent becomes a lot easier.
  • Find ways to source data and insights that can drive understanding of who your customer is and what they need and what they’re looking for.|

Reimagining the service layer to move beyond transactions to emotions and trust

  • The process of moving beyond transactions in a direct to consumer environment, to one that’s actually building emotion, it’s about provenance. It’s about service, but ultimately about having the confidence to transact to buy and the desire to build a relationship for the long term.
  • We need to take the heart and soul and humanity of brands and translate that into a direct to consumer model because the one thing that this great change has brought about is a much larger amount of competition in that digital direct to consumer space.
  • The New Zealand story that’s been phenomenally reported globally can only help New Zealand brands. The value of the New Zealand brand gives us the gateway or a wedge that we can then drive into those new markets and leverage as well.
  • In six months, we’re going to be looking at more competition, more brands in the same space. We need to be listening and reacting to the market’s needs. It
  • comes down to the human being behind the business that will drive the success.
  • Brands rely on human interaction and building trust – creating that human layer, the service layer, that reason to buy is super important.

The hustle and the startup mindset for entering new markets

  • When you go into a new market, don’t go in full noise, don’t drop your whole range in there. If you’ve got 100 products, drop your 10 bestsellers. Find ways to be fast and agile in a way that you typically aren’t now, right.
  • Do more due diligence, more research, a lot more investigation into either human beings or market opportunities . Don’t just go and discover all guns blazing. There’s two parts to assessing a situation, one is the rational part, the numbers, the other thing is to listen to your gut.
  • Even in the conversation about digital at the end of the day, it’s about human beings.
  • What got you to where you are, that initial genesis of starting a business, can help you get to a new place as well.

The Katabolt Export Recovery Series has been running since March as a resource designed by exporters, for exporters, to help the New Zealand export community better understand the post-lockdown world that we now find ourselves in.

All the Export Recovery Series Webinars and Interviews are available to watch here, alongside contact details of all our panelists, and the key outtakes and resources from each.

The Export Recovery Panel team would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our friends at Kea New Zealand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for helping to make these webinars possible. Thank you.

KEA NZ and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade Logos

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