In today’s highly connected, globalized world, potential retail customers can be anywhere: around the corner, across town, across the country — or on the other side of the world. If you are ready to expand your business globally, your success will depend on how well you scale omnichannel retail best practices, such as developing a singular view of your customers and providing consistent customer experiences across channels. There are, however, additional points to consider that will impact whether the leap across international boundaries will be a profitable one for you.
Do your due diligence to research the market and the level of demand for products like yours. You may have had some eCommerce success in a particular country, but does it make business sense to invest resources into launching new physical stores or distribution centers there? Don’t overlook research into the success (or failure) of your competitors who have attempted to expand to the country you are considering, and find out if legal requirements, workforce, culture, or other factors impacted their success. Also keep in mind you could start out with little or no brand recognition, so investigate how much of a marketing investment will be necessary to make your business’s name a household word.
Obviously, if you are considering a new market where people speak a different language, you need to translate your website, content, offers, promotions, internal communications, etc. into that language. But it’s not quite that simple.
Product names don’t always translate well — you can search the Internet for some unfortunate examples — so make sure your brands don’t translate in an amusing (or offensive) manner. Also consider whether names based on idioms in your country would have the same impact in another language. For example, if you sell travel gear for “snowbirds” would people in other countries understand that they’re meant for people who travel to warmer climates for the winter?
In addition, your eCommerce website’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy should be revised to target keywords people in the new market would search. For example, if you sell “sweaters” in the U.S., you may need to optimize website content for “jumpers” for countries that speak British English. Make sure common searches connect customers with your products.
A principle of successful omnichannel is providing customer experiences that are characterized by ease of use. Ensure when customers shop on your eCommerce site that searching for prices shipping, taxes and any other charges reflect the shopper’s currency, and customers can complete their payment transactions smoothly. Also arrange for purchase orders for local vendors to be calculated in their currency while providing accurate data for accounting at your headquarters. Before you expand to other parts of the globe, make sure you are using an omnichannel retail system that is customizable for multinational currency
You should also compare how your business model aligns with businesses in the country you are considering for new locations. Would your store operations and business culture seem, well, foreign to your new customers? Our global research into omnichannel retail customer expectations, for example, revealed buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) is more popular in the U.K., where it’s known as click-and-collect compared to the U.S. In addition, consumers in some countries in the Asia-Pacific region are ahead of the U.S. in use of mobile payments. If you are considering expansion there, make sure you do business the way your new customers expect you to.
Wherever the future takes you, remember to maintain a customer-centric approach. Although the words may be different and business operations may change, the ultimate goal is to provide personalized customer experiences that delight customers and encourage loyalty. It’s an omnichannel retail strategy that translates well.
For more information on providing the experiences your customers want, read our Great Omnichannel Expectations report.