Since launching in 2008, the design fabric brand kittybunnypony (KBP®) has been producing high-quality made-in-Korea products. The company creates designs for home and lifestyle fabrics including bags, kitchen items, cushions, bedding, and curtains.
Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, KBP exports its products to China, Japan, and parts of Southeast, Europe, and the United States.
“Communicating and promoting our design and product to overseas markets is crucial to our business,” explained CEO Kim Jin Jin.
Currently, KBP’s exports are highest in Japan and China. “China is growing only through distributors due to export controls,” Kim noted. “On the other hand, in Japan, we actively communicate with customers through Instagram and make direct transactions. China is ahead in terms of sales volume, but believe that we have more potential in Japan.”
To help access the large potential customer base in other countries, KBP also has website content available in Korean, Chinese, and English.
Digital marketing is a critical tool in enabling small businesses to reach potential international customers in a cost-effective and timely manner. For KBP, online advertising in different markets can be complicated.
“I think the most challenging part is how to promote the business,” said Kim. “Currently, Instagram is the solution we utilize the most when it comes to marketing and promotion. However, we still face barriers in countries like China, where there are constraints using certain digital tools.”
Kim noted that communicating export information to potential international customers on social media is also a challenge.
Payments are often cited by small exporters as a top hardship when doing business globally. The founder indicated that the payment service in Korea has limitations that make it difficult for foreign customers compared to other “one-click” checkout services available.
Kim highlighted the role that other digital tools such as Facebook and YouTube play in reaching customers in different markets. “We operate both Korean and Japanese accounts and use the shopping features to sync with Facebook so that the customers can purchase with ease. Our followers and customers naturally use hashtags and tag our accounts to share the experience.”
The company uses other technology-based services to manage its global shipments. “Products are consigned to a logistics center where the shipment is made through services like FedEx, EMS, and DHL. The logistics center is continuously helping and studying ways to optimize the logistics specifically so that the customers can receive the products much faster,” Kim explained.
Government programs and initiatives can help support small businesses globally. Kim noted that while the government supports small business owners with various policies, “there are often situations in which you have fewer opportunities to participate in the global market or only participate in a set market.”
“I believe that companies need more substantial and detailed support from the government to go global. For more companies to succeed globally, I believe that the government needs to listen to the detailed needs of companies so that they can better help.”