When he decided to go international and export his natural cosmetics, Jérôme Lambruschini, the founder of Panier des sens, was not satisfied with a simple web strategy. The entrepreneur quickly surrounded himself with specialists in public structures such as Bpifrance and the French CCIs abroad, or from private international support companies. Above all, he found the right partners on the spot.
Panier des sens now works with just over 3,000 resellers and partners Its turnover jumped last year by more than 30%, reaching nearly 12 million euros. The company generates 70% of its business from exports, mainly to the United States (17% of turnover), Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
China is his latest destination. A strategic partnership was signed at the end of 2021 for the opening of two flagships. “French products, Provence have a strong international echo”, welcomes Jérôme Lambruschini who founded this SME of 55 people in Marseille in 2001.
VIEs for European markets
Jérôme Lambruschini has adapted different implementation strategies depending on the country. “On major exports, such as in Asia, where logistical, cultural and regulatory constraints are significant, we work with partners and distributors we meet most of the time at trade shows specializing in cosmetics,” he confides.
The distributor buys the products to resell them according to the business model and the specifications established beforehand. “We try to give him the best practices. We tell him about our successes with distribution channels,” explains the manager, who then gives carte blanche to the partner to refine the strategy locally and determine the points of sale in which the cosmetics will be distributed.
In Europe and on the North American continent, the company is developing other approaches. Panier des sens called on VIE (International Volunteering in Business) to clear the American markets, for example. The advantage of this formula: call on students or young graduates, often very motivated, to test a coveted market. As in Germany where the company is currently looking to recruit a VIE “It’s a support position, which needs to be supervised and accompanied”, concedes the entrepreneur.
Panier des sens also works directly with resellers who manage logistics, communication, benchmarking, price positioning, and commercial strategy.
Methodically evaluate distributors
To select his various partners (distributors and resellers), Jérôme Lambruschini proceeds methodically. It is based to start on the history, experience, financial means and technical knowledge, namely their knowledge of the business environment and the practice of foreign languages.
“We do a lot of interviews. We have to challenge them on the business plan. This is where you realize if it’s the right one or not, ”explains the manager. Other important criteria also include proximity to the market. What brands does he own? Is the distributor well connected to the local market? Does he have good contacts with key decision makers?
The next step is to consider “intuitive feelings”. Criteria such as “sympathy” or “feeling” play a major role in the final choice. “Distributors and resellers remain customers. It is important to get along well with them, to coach them, to give them advice and recommendations on how to do more business together. It’s almost daily management,” says Jérôme Lambruschini.
The involvement in supporting the partner is total. In particular, the SME has set up a monthly steering committee whose mission is to exchange transparently with resellers, in order to improve the customer experience with regard to products, services and transport. Close relationships that have proven essential during the health crisis.
Listening to their advice and taking their remarks into account has thus made it possible to reposition certain offers. “We granted them longer payment terms and prioritized distribution networks in Europe that did not close, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, to limit damage,” concludes Jérôme Lambruschini.