evolve to grow
Rachel Martin, Global Director of Product Marketing for Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce
One of the major themes at this years’ eTail West was around transforming retail. Retail is a fascinating world to be working in because transformation is constant. Whether you’re transforming a storefront into a shipping hub or (finally) investing in a serious mobile strategy to meet consumer demand - if you’re not evolving, you’re not growing. And in a mature ecommerce market like the United States, retailers are faced with the challenge of saturation, which leaves little room for many to expand domestically.
Overseas, however, there are markets that are just heating up for foreign retailers and consumers within those markets are hungry for imported goods. In 2015 ecommerce in Asia alone grew 32%. With figures like that, US retailers can’t afford to stay home. So what can a British retailer expanding to a foreign market do to ensure smooth sailing? Transform the experience from global to local.
Once a localisation effort has been implemented, it will need to be reinforced indefinitely. This means that as soon as a product is set to be launched in the home market, a localisation effort needs to be already completed by the retailer for any other country where the product will be introduced. If you don’t build a site that resonates with language, currency and regional payment options, don’t count on local consumers to spend their time there.
In tandem with this is consistency in domain structures. A recent Forrester report found that to maintain a strong global brand, companies need to embrace the same domain strategy in all markets. This could mean applying country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), where the country code placed after the brand name in the URL is the only differentiator for a webstore from market to market (i.e.: pitneybowes.ca).
Ecommerce businesses need to tailor their site to speak the language of shoppers within a given market. This process can’t be as simple as relying on Google to translate a few pages worth of content. Hiring a local professional to review the site will help fill a potential engagement gap between retailers and consumers in different native markets.
Ideally, this same individual reviewing the retailer’s website will be able to help them optimise content for search engines as well. Marketing teams need to be cognizant of the most popular search engines in a region and local market semantics to ensure a targeted strategy, but a local eye will be able to ensure that the website’s translated content is easy for local customers to find.
Transforming customer service
Perhaps most importantly, customer service shouldn’t feel like a foreign experience when shoppers need to interact with a brand. The service channels customers most take advantage of vary by market, so the business needs to identify which of these avenues is worth the investment.
Whether this involves hiring an individual familiar with the casual writing style of the market to field emails or having a customer service representative on the line to answer calls, these channels need to be open and operate in the time zones that shoppers need them in.
Shipping is no longer an afterthought. In fact, Shipping is the new black. Consumers expect to pick-up and/or receive their goods whenever they want, however they want and want no surprises during the process. Your website needs to clearly outline all expectations a customer can have regarding shipping and returns on the site, in their native language. If your customer has a faulty experience during the transaction like delays on products of certain sizes/quantities, unexpected fees upon delivery, or problems with the shipping service, they aren’t likely to be return shoppers.
To learn more about both the opportunities ecommerce expansion affords retailers and the steps for successful execution, read our recently published white paper Possible? Probable. Profitable! Meet consumers wherever they are.