Focusing on big picture expansion and opportunity metrics can be exciting, sure, but the key to any successful international strategy for your online business is understanding what drives the local market. You might have heard the term “localization,” but what is it, exactly? In short: it’s an increasingly necessary strategy to thrive in global e-commerce markets, and it starts with understanding what makes each market tick.
Speak to the Local Culture
It can be easy to simplify localization down to a single step – translating your webpage. Of course, you must first ensure that your web and print copy is accurate across the board. Don’t run the risk of your brand becoming a joke by skimping on this step, but keep in mind that basic translation is just the beginning. And while accurate site translation is an important consideration, it’s even more crucial to have a concrete sense of all the factors that drive purchases in your new market.
From there, consider a range of indicators that will help you get a better sense of how to approach the market, including local holidays in each market. In China, “Singles’ Day” (now known as “Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival”) has long raked in impressive amounts in e-commerce sales and has since surpassed total sales compared to several other retail holidays combined. To ignore such a major retail event when entering the Chinese market and selling to Chinese customers would be a major oversight. Knowing more about the local preferences, culture, values, and preferred methods of purchasing will all help you to better adapt your brand for a new locale and provide local experience to global customers.
From Product to Process
A good localization approach seeks to make potentially cumbersome processes flow more smoothly. For example, if your company is selling to buyers in many different countries, it is important to offer them local payment options to use on the site so that they are able to complete transactions. Equally important is having an e-commerce platform that can offer flexible address inputs and international verification to ensure the package is accurately labeled and your customers receive their order in a timely fashion. Similarly, a comprehensive localization strategy will consider international shipping options to optimize for cost or speed for the end customer. For shoppers willing to pay more to receive their package faster, your business can meet their expectations for speed of delivery while at the same time providing more cost-effective options for customers who are price conscious.
Localization works best when you consider a number of issues, including, for example, ample research into your target market’s regulations regarding certain products. Before you waste time on the launch of your product in a new country, work with your team to first determine not only if there’s a demand for your product, but also if the product is legal to import into that market (and, if so, with what restrictions). Examining larger data trends around the demand for your product or service is vital, but it’s just as important to spend time working out the logistics involved to bypass any red tape and get the product into your customers’ hands.
Localization is not just an important strategy, it’s hands down essential for companies from SMBs to Fortune 500 organizations that are looking to expand into global e-commerce markets. The demand for e-commerce continues to be robust, and brands willing to invest time and resources into crafting a successful localization strategy will be well poised to take advantage of opportunities across the globe.
A “smaller” world doesn’t need to be one in which customers are forced to deal with a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, a localized approach to each region and locale offers the opportunity for companies to clarify the value of their product or service to each unique market while streamlining the purchase process for individual customers.