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The mindset that helps HiFi Klubben succeed in new markets

Written by Max Riis Christensen


The way we buy goods has changed beyond recognition from the early 1980s when HiFi Klubben was born, selling its first turntable, speaker and amplifier models to the Danish public. 

In many ways, its story is one of adaptation, as the technology it sells has rapidly evolved and the company has learned how to sell its products to customers in each new market. 

Today, the company has 90 stores across Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, with a corresponding local office and webshop in each country. 

Global customer service manager, Phillip Sønderskov, tells us an internal mindset that there is always something to improve drives the company’s modern growth story. 

In the latest story in our Succeed Abroad series, he shares takeaways on market expansion tactics, localisation and technology across markets with our learning community. 

“It can always be better. As long as you have that mindset you'll be able to move forward and survive. You have to be ready to adapt” - Phillip Sønderskov, Global Customer Service Manager, HiFi Klubben.


Expansion tactics: Assume the mindset you can always do better and you will

Phillip tells us he is happy with how HiFi Klubben’s webshops are performing but says that they will “never be at 100%”- simply because there is always room for improvement. 

In the customer universe, for example, he is excited about opportunities to improve recommendations and expand the team’s proactive customer service offerings. That could include making it easier to track the progress of their service or repair request and the team is working on these areas right now. 

As well as constantly reviewing what can be improved internally, Phillip believes it’s important to look at peers to make sure you are keeping up with the best in class on a company and professional level. His team is active in their network, making connections to get inspired and share notes on emerging technology like AI and other software products that can take customer service to the next level. 

“I think it's a good driver to always be contributing,” says Phillip. 

A company like HiFi Klubben knows that brands that want to endure can only look forward. 

“As long as you have the mindset that it can always be better, you'll probably be able to move forward and survive. But those who think they have it all figured out, thinking they have it all under control…maybe you have it right now, but at some point, you won't.

“You have to be ready to adapt.”


Localisation: Don’t overestimate how far English will carry you 

Speaking of adapting, the question of when, and indeed whether, to localise customer service is one all companies face when they start selling outside their home market. 

Should you offer support and assistance in the local language? Should you hire someone locally to handle customer service or try to hire native speakers and centralise the expertise in your home market? 

The latter is becoming increasingly difficult in some areas according to Phillip, including Aarhus where HiFi Klubben is headquartered. He says that although it used to be relatively easy to attract people from other countries who speak Spanish, French, etc. It has become significantly harder to find international people since Aarhus University closed down a lot of international programs. While it is easier in bigger and more international cities like Copenhagen, he says it is definitely becoming much harder to do but, he believes, worth investing in. 

“If you have employees from the market you are operating in, they often have knowledge that can be difficult to acquire through market analysis,” he says. 

“Some local phrases that can arise from payment systems, delivery options, or what people most prefer in different countries. That can also be valuable knowledge to find within the company.”

Localisation takes time to get right and fast growing ambitious companies often decide to provide customer service in English while they grow their presence in a new region before investing in translated or native language. 

Phillip says it’s important not to underestimate the value a customer or segment of customers will place on being able to connect with their brand in their native language, however. 

“We can sometimes be blind to how high our English level is in Scandinavia. But it's not the same when you go south of the border,” he says. “You can't just launch an English website and expect to get by with that. It might work to some extent, but you won't reach a significant portion of the market.”

Meanwhile, he says, it is often the way that brands handle conflicts and complaints that help them win loyal customers. If language becomes a barrier it can reduce the likelihood of repeat purchases, since customers may simply opt to deal with a local, native language competitor.

Learning Mindset  

HiFi Klubben has invested in building five hyper localised webshops to support its stores across Europe and plans to continue improving its performance in these regions before looking into new ones.

The mindset that there is always something to improve coupled with a professional curiosity at the heart of the organisation in helping push the conversation about how to deliver the best customer experience at home and abroad, lines up perfectly with the purpose of this interview series. 

Huge thanks to Phillip Sønderskov for sharing some of your key learnings from HiFi Klubben’s story with us and welcome to the community.

This is the latest story in our series where 50+ top e-commerce professionals share their learnings on market expansion tactics, localisation and technology across markets with our learning community. Check out the full collection here for more tips. 


Max Riis Christensen

Max, the CEO at MakesYouLocal, specialises in cross-border e-commerce. His expertise encompasses building business cases, developing rollout strategies, and ensuring successful international launches. With a vast network and a track record with renowned companies, Max is instrumental in helping brands succeed abroad.


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