Start-Up Successfully Launches Japanese eCommerce Site, Makes New Sales
Black History Month Success Story
In the midst of the current worldwide business disruptions, you may be tempted to put your international sales strategy on hold. Although business is now being conducted a bit differently, a new, California-based start-up proves that global sales deals can still be made. As we celebrate Black History Month, we’re excited to share the story of Black entrepreneur, Anthony Hall, and how his firm Hall Enterprises (dba 805 Wines), a certified minority company, recently started exporting to Japan.
“I’m proud of Anthony because within six months he was able to start a new business, launch an eCommerce site in Japan, secure domestic and international partners and make export sales,” said Glen Roberts, director of the U.S. Commercial Service’s Fresno, California office. Roberts is part of a global network of 1,400 Federal export experts located in more than 100 U.S. cities and 70 global markets to help U.S. companies export.
How did Hall do it?
Hall’s goal was to sell sustainable California wine to Japan. Wine was a new industry for him and in June 2020 he contacted Roberts at the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) for help entering the Japanese market. Hall wanted to establish a partnership with a Japanese logistics firm to inventory and fulfill 805 Wine’s on-line orders in Japan. Roberts arranged a call with Hall and U.S. Commercial Service trade experts in Japan who also counseled Hall on Japanese sales and marketing channels, customs and eCommerce.
After the call, the U.S. Commercial Service contacted Yamato, Japan’s leading logistics firm to propose the prospect of working with 805 Wine. Subsequent correspondence convinced Yamato that this would be a good business proposition. Executives from Yamato’s Tokyo headquarters forwarded details to its team in northern California, who concluded an agreement with 805 Wine.
“That introduction to Yamato was a big deal for us,” Hall said. “If we had reached out on our own, they probably would not have paid any attention, but because the introduction came from the U.S. Commercial Service, they’re taking us much more seriously. Considering that we’re a small, start-up, Yamato treats us with a great deal of respect.”
“If we had reached out on our own, they probably would not have paid any attention, but because the introduction came from the U.S. Commercial Service, they’re taking us much more seriously.”
Fine-tuning the Strategy
805 Wine’s Japanese eCommerce platform went live in November 2020. The first two-to-three months were a test, Hall explained. The firm was looking to see which sales strategy was most appropriate for the market.
Early on, Hall noticed that although visitors were coming to 805 Wine’s eCommerce site, they were not buying. “The beauty of eCommerce is that you get information,” he stated. “The site’s performance data is there to be interpreted, and that’s how we realized that we needed to make changes.”
During the process of fine-tuning the sales strategy, Hall said they sometimes changed 50% of their eCommerce site and other times they overhauled it completely.
“When you launch an eCommerce business, expect to pivot and continue to adjust your strategy until you find what works,” Hall advised. “We’ve made all types of pivots, and we’ve even pivoted our pivots!”
Hall’s most euphoric export experience occurred shortly after making a significant change to the 805 Wine eCommerce platform. “We revamped our eCommerce site on a Sunday to reflect our new strategy, and two days later we received our first order from Japan! That first sale let us know that we were on the right path,” he exclaimed.
Entering the Japanese Restaurant Sector
In addition to the cross-border eCommerce strategy, Hall is working with the U.S. Commercial Service to enter the Japanese restaurant sector. The CS encouraged Hall to participate in a recent virtual event organized by the Foreign Agricultural Service in Japan. During the event, a large Japanese restaurant chain expressed interest in 805 Wine and encouraged Hall to work with their existing distributors. Hall plans to use the CS’s virtual business matchmaking service to help him contact the appropriate distributors so that he is prepared to do business.
Hall anticipates doubling his staff from four to eight employees to handle the expected new business from the Japanese restaurant chain.
Hall also plans to enlist the CS to help expand his business into new markets in Asia, the Caribbean and Africa.
Achieve Your Goals with Local Export Assistance
Whether you are looking to make your first export sale or expand into new markets, the U.S. Commercial Service has the expertise you need to identify and connect with lucrative opportunities and increase your bottom line. Contact the export experts at your local U.S. Commercial Service office today.
Company Location: San Luis Obispo, California
Company Website: www.805wine.net
Local U.S. Commercial Service Office: Fresno, California
Trade Specialist: Glen Roberts - Glen.Roberts@trade.gov