The NFL Tackles China

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 16 Aug, 2013

With training camp packed up and preseason in full swing, Americans are already sporting their team jerseys and will soon be plastered to their TV screens every Sunday. Yep, it's officially football season.

Thanks to an exclusive agreement between the NFL and Export Now, more fans will have the opportunity to support their favorite teams. The partnership establishes an official online store in China, slated to debut in September. The store will sell apparel, equipment and accessories branded with the logos of the NFL and its 32 organizations over an ecommerce platform on China's, which is the world's largest business-to-consumer marketplace.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with one of the truly great sports organizations in the world," said Frank Lavin, chief executive officer at Export Now. "We will create the NFL's first online store catering to China's vast market, where consumer demand for high-quality U.S. products is increasing. The NFL joins a growing number of organizations that are utilizing ecommerce innovations to expand their global business opportunities."

According to Lavin, among the biggest difficulties for brands expanding into the Chinese marketplace is the ability to forecast market demand and acceptance. That said, Export Now eases these concerns by helping brands market their products to Chinese audiences. The company runs digital outreach for foreign brands, including SEO/SEM work and social media outreach. Typically, Export Now starts by examining the brand's home market digital strategy and then adapts it for the Chinese market. According to NFL China's Managing Director Richard Young, Export Now proved to be the right partner through its reliability.

"We started doing trials with ExportNow, and in essence it was quite simple - they did everything they said they were going to do, without hassle," said Young. "Not to say that there were never any hiccups, it's just that they were logical and they were handled. It was one less thing for us to worry about. Obviously, you want to worry about volumes and that you are getting the right product, but you don't want to worry about the supply chain. They didn't over promise and that means a lot in regard to a partner."

Brands working with Export Now simply need to ship their products domestically to an international port, and then Export Now can arrange the shipping into China, according to Lavin. In fact, the company handles everything from inbound logistics and customs clearance to Web design and payment of taxes. And although expanding a brand globally might seem overwhelming, it does come with advantages, most notably, greater sales and revenue.

"Export Now offers the NFL the ability to accelerate our international development and expand our access to the Chinese consumer market," said Young. "NFL products are becoming increasingly popular around the world. We are excited at the opportunity to increase the availability of our teams' apparel, equipment and accessories and serve our fans in China."