On Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to represent Corra at an exclusive invite-only gathering that discussed the challenges and opportunities facing fashion and lifestyle brands considering taking their ecommerce business to an international audience. Focusing on authenticity and local customer service, below are a few quick insights and takeaways I gathered from the event. All of them are relevant and meaningful to not just the fashion and lifestyle industries, but to online retail as a whole.
1. Put Together a Sound Strategy Backed Up with Strong Analytics
Been getting a lot of international customers? Analytics are the ideal place to look for and confirm potential opportunities to expand your brand globally. Once you find those opportunities, it’s important to have a clear strategy mapped out for why you plan to target that specific country. Defining the right product mix, figuring out the best SEO strategy, and partnering with the right affiliate networks and 3rd party logistics companies can all make your first steps into a new market that much easier.
Note: focus on the countries that may impose less risk to move into (e.g. not starting with Japan or China but focusing first on Canada or the EU ).
2. Translation does not equal localization.
“Localizing” your customer experience requires more than just translating the language and currency on your ecommerce site. International buyers want a true local experience that focuses on the nuances specific to their particular global region. From the type of product photography to the holidays you market to the language you use for specific buttons or CTAs, these small details all add up to providing trust to your online customers.
You’ll also want to be aware of changes in specific markets that can impact the communication with your customers (ex. Canada’s new Anti-Spam law) and make sure you’re following best practices in your marketing programs.
Finally, understand what holidays are important in each individual market. In the US you may create specific 4th of July offers but in Canada you should be creating marketing campaigns around Canada Day, which is celebrated on July 1st.
Note: preplanning your strategy for creating loyalty and brand affinity is also key to building your customer base and maintaining lifetime customers.
3. Pay Attention to Local Payment Options/Methods
Understand the preferred payment options in each market. For example, while Germany leans towards direct debt, credit cards in general are not as widely supported in the EU as in the US, and in Italy and China COD is preferred. Also, be aware of local consumer protection laws. Localization of the checkout process and data input fields to correspond to the necessary information needed in a specific markets as well as managing delivery expectations will help establish credibility and trust and decrease cart abandonment. It is also very important to understanding hidden carrier costs and “landed fees” and what items may have restrictions on being shipped or sold to specific markets.
4. Host Locally
Choose a managed hosting provider that can provide access to localized data centers. That will give you more insight into country-specific laws (e.g. Strict Privacy laws in Germany). Also, decreasing site load time with global CDNs will go far in helping to improve the overall user experience.
5. You Don’t Have to Do This Alone.
When you are starting out with a blank slate and do not want to miss out on expanding your brand and finding other markets to create new revenue streams, you do not have to do everything on your own. There are a lot of amazing 3rd party companies that you can rely on like eShopWorld, BorderFree or Bongo International that can help mitigate a lot of the risks associated with expanding globally.
Overall, the event provided a valuable evening of networking and insights, not to mention the free premium drinks and appetizers—definitely worth the battle with LA traffic ( #IheartUber ).
[rendertool][type_person][prop_name]Kristina Burbich[/prop_name] is [prop_job]Commerce Strategy Consultant[/prop_job][/type_person] at [type_corp][type_corp][prop_desc][prop_name]Corra[/prop_name], a [prop_loc]New York[/prop_loc] and [prop_loc]Los Angeles[/prop_loc] based digital agency [prop_mkffr]that delivers high performing ecommerce solutions for fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands and retailers.[/prop_mkffr] With a team of more than 100 ecommerce strategy, creative and technology professionals Corra delivers rich shopping experiences across all channels and devices by balancing the right amounts of branding, commerce and content for each client. Corra is trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support Magento Enterprise, Demandware and hybris platforms. [/prop_desc][/type_corp][/rendertool]