It has been a busy and ambitious year for Twill in 2018. We recently launched into six new countries – including new markets in the UAE, Australia and New Zealand – and that means a lot of new offices, new Twillers and new customers!
As Twill’s Global Expansion Lead, my role encapsulates a lot of things – most importantly ensuring that we can expand geographically as planned; which means a lot of traveling to new countries and meeting new people! It is an exciting role and since joining Twill earlier this year, I have travelled to 21 different countries, spent 300 hours in the air and covered over 200,000km – that’s almost 5 times around the globe!
As well as this, there is the important internal work that goes in to make roll-outs happen – it is very much a team effort. I work within a team of three – we’re known as the Twill Rock & Rollers! – but there is also input needed from all of our Twill teams – whether it’s recruitment, marketing, management or tech teams. No one team can do it on their own – no matter how great they are – we all have to work together as a united company to achieve our vision and goal.
Picking the next country for Twill to expand into involves a number of different things. The highest on the list is global trade volumes for that country within our key demographic, which is SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). Outside of that, we will look at our existing footprint – because as a Maersk innovation we have the advantage of being able to utilise their global footprint to rollout faster. If we were to set-up in a country from scratch, it would take a lot longer.
Finally, we will take into account things like the potential growth of the country/market, revenues, competitors, and the infrastructure in place – a big part of the role of the Rock & Rollers in Twill’s roll-outs is visiting potential customers to assess the product market fit and to create an early awareness and traction around our platform.
There is a cultural aspect too to consider, and it is important for us to understand whether a new country is open and willing to embrace digital solutions like ours. Sometimes this can provide surprises, for example, if you look at a country like Japan, they’re considered a very high-tech country; but when it comes to logistics and trade, there are a lot of hierarchies and traditions that are still rooted, so they might be slower to embrace our innovation.
Of course, there are always potential challenges to expanding into a new country – however these are almost always external challenges. Internally, with our agile way of working and mind-set, we are able to adapt quite quickly to internal challenges that may arise on a rare occasion. Externally, the challenges very often come in terms of recruitment and the individual legal and compliance requirements of each country.
For recruitment, some countries have working councils and we must stick to their terms of employment. From a legal point of view, while most compliances come under global trading standards, each country tends to have their own terms and conditions that can vary ever so slightly – but that can mean the difference between a smooth rollout or costly delays. So we have to take extra care in making sure we take these challenges into account.
As I’ve referenced in this blog, my job entails a lot of traveling, and one of the best things about it is getting to meet so many amazing people all around the world; hearing their stories and introducing them to Twill. This is not just potential customers; I spend time training future sales and customer care ninjas too! I often hold ‘town hall’ meetings where I demo our platform and getting to see their reactions to this innovative technology never gets boring.
Moving into major markets, like the US and China, has been an exciting move for Twill this year; but for myself personally there has also been the chance to launch into Scandinavia, where I worked for many years. I had the opportunity to catch-up and even have meetings with friends and former colleagues as part of my role and it was great to show them what I’d been up to with Twill and the work we’re doing.
There are exciting plans on the horizon for 2019 and I’m looking forward to helping make them happen with the Twill team – watch this space!