With e-commerce, the international expansion opportunities are endless. But one of the biggest stumbling blocks for businesses looking to take over the world is failing to acknowledge and, most importantly, adapt to cultural differences when marketing across cultures.
Too often do we see businesses falling into the trap of believing all markets are the same simply because they all reside in the online world. The internet creates a unified feeling which certainly has its benefits, but in the case of selling products, it’s a false reality.
Consequently, marketing tactics that take into consideration differing consumer shopping cultures are much more effective.
So, if you’re wondering how best to adapt your digital practices and marketing successfully across different cultures, look no further.
Where to begin:
Before you embark on world domination, let’s go back to the basics. The e-commerce route to market involves fewer costs and less investment than physical bricks and mortar expansion. Taking into account the current global situation, it’s one that makes much more sense, too.
Therefore, the best place to begin is with a solid e-commerce offering. This may entail an e-commerce website that is developed, hosted and maintained in-house, or outsourced to a specialist digital agency. It could also involve shops on various online marketplaces, such as Amazon or Alibaba, for example.
Whatever you choose, make sure it fits your brand, works towards your goals and also, provides access to the right markets and consumer groups.
This brings us to another important aspect that you need to get right from the beginning – a solid understanding of who your customers are and the countries they reside in. With this, you can develop a strategic approach to targeting them with digital activity that is not only effective but also efficient from a commercial and financial perspective.
How to adapt:
What works in one country will not necessarily work in another and because of that, activity must be made personal to all.
For example, sales can be increased during holidays and dates of importance when consumers are seeking gifts, themed items or specific services. While some of these days are universal, others are exclusive to certain territories.
Thanksgiving Day is marked in the USA with widespread celebrations, days off and gift-giving ceremonies. In other countries however, the date is much less significant. Black Friday is a significant shopping day in the US/Europe, while the day for the greatest records in online sales is Singles Day in China, which takes place on Nov 11.
Activity must be personalised during these times in order to not miss out on the valuable opportunity to drive sales.
Although each country differs, there are bound to be some overlaps. In these instances, content can and should be repurposed to keep costs and resource requirements to a minimum, all while profits are being maximised.
When repurposing content, it’s important to remember that certain elements will need to be tailored to the various audiences. For example, language, imagery and monetary values should all be considered before any digital activity goes live.
Businesses may wish to look into tools that allow customers to make language or currency conversions themselves to reduce the need to produce bespoke content for every market.
Change the channel
With cultural differences comes variations in consumer channel preferences. Whether it be due to access restrictions, values or something else, certain platforms work better in certain countries.
It’s therefore important to research and form an understanding of not only who your customers are, but also where best to target them.
An example of how this differs then, the average cost per click varies wildly between platforms, with LinkedIn over ten times as expensive as Facebook. With a global average cost per 1,000 impressions at $1.26 on Facebook, the figure rises to $3.15 in the UK – the most expensive on the planet – and dips as low as $0.42 in Colombia.
Image source: metricool.com
As you expand, you should anticipate an increasing amount of activity to monitor and manage. This becomes much more of a burden if you are using various marketplaces to sell your products in different countries.
So, with orders coming in from and then being shipped out to multiple places, a single, centralised feed management (such as the Diginius/ChannelAdvisor marketplace solution) should be integrated with you order management system (OMS) which keeps track of activity and automates processes where possible, can aid in creating efficiency.
Not only this, but it will also improve customer experiences through a seamless process and faster response and delivery times.
With all this information in one place, businesses can collect rich and accurate data and then use insights to inform future marketing activity or commercial decisions.
Create a cross-channel strategy
In almost every industry, customers require six touchpoints with a brand before a purchasing decision is made. As a result, those with a robust cross-channel strategy are much better off than those who focus all efforts on a single route.
Platforms, such as VTEX enable a collaborative commerce approach whereby the purchasing experience is unified, not only from a customer perspective but also from the business’s too.
This includes all sales channels, as well as those of suppliers, creating a digital ecosystem that delivers value to everyone.
For businesses then, the benefits lie in a streamlined process that minimises both costs and waste. Savings can then be shared with customers or redistributed to other business-critical activities.
Ultimately, the key to success when expanding overseas is the tools and platforms you use when doing it. While understanding cultures and consumer behaviours requires a human touch, monitoring consumption patterns and trends in marketplaces can easily inform some of this insight.
This process becomes much simpler with a unified commerce platform that works collaboratively with businesses and customers, and then delivers an experience when, where and how they want it to achieve optimum results.
The Diginius team has used their years of experience and expertise in PPC management to develop websites, insight software and automated bidding engines to help clients maximise the value and return generated from their PPC activity.
So, to find out how we can help you do the same, get in touch today.