Importance of localization in international eCommerce operations
The world has become a global village in the past two decades. Everything was showing tendencies of globalisation and the internet was the main driving force behind it. The free flow of information revolutionized the way we communicate, and made knowledge of English language the most important asset. As the financial trends followed information advancements, it was to be expected that a huge amount of trade, retail especially moved from traditional stores to the sphere of eCommerce.
Since the United States were the origin of this impulse, in the beginning everything was adjusted to the business environment they brought. Still, after just a few years, these huge achievements of human intellect adapted different forms and became local in their character in many segments.
This started changing the world of digital commerce as well, and globalisation gradually stepped down to make room for a more advanced glocal approach.
So, what means that term – “glocalization”? It is an unofficial word, not present in dictionaries, but widely used on the internet. It depicts approaching the global business operations in a local manner. It means providing the local options to the customers in certain regions under a large scale global operation.
Since this approach became a trend in digital commerce, an entire avalanche of changes broke loose, and now the local approach in multichannel online trade is something that is a pure necessity if you intend to succeed in a very competitive surrounding. Many brands and retailers from all over the world are using this system to unbelievable results.
The basics to it are rather simple and include several segments of services that are not only eligible, but also mandatory to be localised:
• Written communication (translation services)
• Payment options
• Logistics and warehousing
• Shipping and delivery
One of the most important elements of localisation is communicating in a language your target audience can easily understand. The eCommerce realm falls easily under this category as the main type of communication through all channels is still in a written form. There are some movements lately from written content to multimedia options, but a lot of time will pass until the written word becomes obsolete (if it ever happens at all).
So, in order to communicate better with their target audience, retailers and brands resorted to translation services as a way to overcome language barriers. It is still the fact that a huge portion of global population can communicate in English, but it is also the fact that most people prefer communication in their mother tongue. Also, since the internet is now a staple commodity and it is available to almost every single human being on the planet, there is still a significant number of those who can’t communicate in a common language. Without translating the content on their eCommerce websites, these retailers and brands would deprive themselves from the opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. That is something that no serious business would allow to happen.
Translation companies quickly became a thing, and now there are lots of them providing such services on a global level. Suffice to say that there are translation companies that offer translation services that include over 100 languages!
This trend is expected to further increase in its intensity, and localized digital commerce websites will become a must in any multichannel operation that includes different geographies which do fall under the same language zone.
Localization in these terms already covers even the segment of mobile devices, so localized apps quickly become one of the most effective means of online retail business.
Any brand or retailer that wishes to succeed simply has to follow this path as the competition is stiff, and the people across the globe show tendencies that are clearly to the advantage of the glocal approach.
With the emergence of digital commerce as an industry that generates huge amounts of money, classic payment systems such as Visa and Master Card systems quickly became insufficient. In many countries local banking systems are still preferred in all transactions, and that created the necessity to integrate those systems into the glocal eCommerce approach. Nowadays we have countless options that are available either separately or under huge payment gateways that are able to cover almost every single option that exists.
Furthermore, the movement from the traditional trade to the sphere of digital commerce created the need for a quick option that is solely connected to the internet. As a response to that need, many online wallet companies emerged as a solution. It is enough to mention only PayPal, and the scope of the change became clear. Those options were also soon incorporated both into the banking systems and into the eCommerce platforms and now they are a golden standard in many countries.
It was important to mention all these developments as they allow us to understand why some payment options are preferred to others in certain geographies. Simply, the costs of transactions, especially in cross border e commerce can vary on a huge scale due to the discrepancies in the exchange rates for certain currencies. Depending on the country, the preferred payment methods are completely different. While in well developed countries with strong economies standard global systems such as Visa or Master card are still the best options, the tendencies in countries with weaker currencies are quite the opposite.
This is the main reason why any successful digital commerce website has to be localized in terms of payment options. You simply have to provide the means of payment that people will be willing to use!
Logistics and warehousing
Since the operations in multichannel online trade became worldwide spread, there was a need to cover all those geographies with logistic and warehousing hubs. Shipping goods from the US or EU to China would be way too pricey, and the transportation costs would either cut down the profit to unacceptable level, or in the opposite case, the goods would be too expensive and wouldn’t sell well if at all.
So, the glocal approach means creating the network of such hubs and making your goods available in every corner of the earth with minimal investments in the logistics. Luckily, most of the leading companies in this segment across the globe followed these trends to the step and created connections between themselves. Now it is quite possible to move even small quantities of wares from one point of the globe to another without investing too much in such an operation.
Naturally, with this approach the total value of orders in eCommerce drops significantly and the volume of sales increases exponentially.
Shipping and delivery
Delivery options in different countries also vary a lot. There are global providers such as FedEx or TNT, but even they are not available in each and every country. Furthermore, in many countries local delivery options such as postal systems and local couriers are much cheaper than those global companies. Finally, there are countries, mostly in the poorer parts of the world where corruption levels are so high that there are some shipping and delivery providers that have obvious monopoly on those markets.
This creates the need to implement those local options into the eCommerce systems as well. Although this is usually done separately for each and every case regardless of the eCommerce platform companies are using, the overall expenses of such integrations are not too high. This makes many of the leading retailers and brands more than willing to invest in this segment, especially in cases when they are trying to attack specific market in an aggressive manner.
All this being said, it is rather clear that localisation is a must for each and every business that wants to be successful on a global market.
The approach to eCommerce related marketing in different countries is also not a constant. Although the techniques that combine organic, paid, and direct traffic sources are similar, there are some specific moments that make all the difference.
First and most important moment is in direct relation to the organic and paid traffic sources. In order to obtain a decent amount of visitors, and increase the audience, you need to switch the SEO and PPC efforts to the language used by your target audience. This requires more than a mere translation, as the search phrases used and well converting keywords are not simple translations from English language, but more phrases on their own. They can be very specific and completely different from what is used on a global scale.
Also, the traffic generated through social media is different in terms of the source. Russian Federation and the post-soviet space are the best examples. Although Facebook is the leading social media network in the rest of the world, in this specific geography it will produce slim results. Instead, VK network is widely used there and the marketing efforts in social media sphere should be directed in that way.
In direct traffic generation the discrepancies are even larger. The newsletters as such are a pretty standard thing, but the newsletter campaigns are something completely different. The best effects of those campaigns are obtained during seasonal peak sales. In the western world, where Christianity is a predominant religion, those sales peaks are always around large religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter. There is little use of launching such campaigns in countries which are predominantly Muslim, Hindi, or Buddhist. Simply, the peak seasons fall in different periods in these geographies. Even worse, if you try pushing the promotions in the same way as you do in the west; there is a good chance that you will offend a lot of potential customers by mentioning Christian holidays, as there are a lot of regions in the world where religious tensions are quite strong. The variations on this theme are almost endless, so it is crystal clear why marketing campaigns MUST be led in a local manner!
The question is – what can Studioworx do for your business if you wish to pursue such endeavour but you lack the expertise and experience to do so?
We are able to help you with virtually every segment of the localisation and help you expand into new geographies using the proper global approach that will deliver results!
We are able to help you with every step you need to take. Our experience is huge enough to provide solid background for expert consulting. This means that we are able to help you make all the necessary analysis, devise the action plan, and recommend all the best practices you will need to use.
Furthermore, as we are well versed in dealing with most of the eCommerce platforms out there, we are able to help you build eCommerce website that will impress. We can cover both web development and web design segments, and we can do it in a way that the design and functionalities of your storefront are perfectly adapted to the market you are targeting.
Furthermore, we are able to obtain contacts with the relevant 3rd party service providers whose services you will need in order to localize your eShop to any location in the world. This definitely includes various translation companies, logistic and warehousing networks, as well as shipping and delivery options. Naturally, payment service providers on all levels are included in our capabilities as well, since we have very good connections with numerous companies in this segment. We also know which ones are particularly good and popular in certain parts of the world so we can give pretty accurate suggestions about those options.
Finally, we can help you devise the necessary marketing strategies for each and every market, and even create marketing material that will give results!
All you need to do if you wish us to lend you a hand is to contact us via our website or via phone and we will be there to answer all your questions. If you like what you hear, we will be able to help your business achieve all the goals you have set!