Based in Rome, Italy, Apparel Network, S.r.l. provides end-to-end services to companies seeking to off-shore their manufacturing operations, particularly to China. Within the country they’ve had considerable success working with some big name fashion brands, especially in the “street wear” sector. Due to an increasingly difficult Italian market brought on by years of economic crisis, the company was seeking to expand their operations to the United States.
The world of Chinese manufacturing (and outsourcing in general) is vast and complex. Apparel Network simplifies the entire production process and manages everything for their clients, from finding the right factory to shipment of the finished product. The company has a vast network of factories and considerable knowledge of Chinese culture and economics — not to mention long-standing relationships with the factories themselves. Their level of expertise, as well as their stellar reputation in the Italian fashion industry, makes Apparel Network a highly marketable company.
The problem that presented itself was rather basic: how to market your services in the U.S. with no U.S. presence? In an overcrowded market it’s hard to distinguish yourself, and with so many disreputable companies aggressively competing for the same business, it’s especially important to convey a level of professionalism that inspires confidence and would encourage American fashion brands to engage Apparel Network for their manufacturing needs.
Strategy and approach:
Tackling the Apparel Network website was our first priority. Their old website, which was in Italian only and contained Flash navigation not viewable on many computers, provided too little information about the company and wasn’t particularly user-friendly. The lack of a text-based navigational menu and no interior pages explaining exactly what the company was about (and who ran it) conveyed a less than professional image.
As we approached the redesign of the website two things became evident:
- The website would have to be in both English and Italian
- They should have a .com URL
- The website should be mobile responsive
The first point requires very little explaining: to break into the American market you most certainly need a website in English. We needed to give Apparel Network a way to manage content in two languages, and give visitors a way to switch between them. We also knew that having a .it domain would probably not encourage an American manufacturer to click through, if Apparel Network even turned up in U.S. search results (it didn’t). So we registered apparelnetworkonline.com for them — the domain simply redirects visitors to the Italian website, where U.S. visitors see the English language version.
Regarding the last point, we didn’t need to explain to owners of Apparel Network that more and more searches are being done from mobile devices. It’s become evident to business owners all over the world that the need for a website that displays well on tablets and smartphones is essential.
The new website launched at the end of August 2014, but this is only the first step – a necessary foundational element — of Apparel Network’s U.S. marketing campaign. In the coming months, they intend to launch a blog and work on their social media presence to bring more visibility to their company and the services they provide. A blog is an excellent channel for showcasing the expertise of company’s executives and overseas staff, and also serves the purpose of generating a continuous stream of quality content to help get the website ranking in search results.