How Retailers Can Cross Borders
For any business owner or executive who has spent years contemplating international expansion, now is undoubtedly starting to feel like the right time to act. The media is abuzz with stories about the global economy and technology advancements make it seem easier than ever to reach burgeoning new markets. It's true that markets are opening up and there's enormous potential for retailers that make the right decisions about online content and lead generation, but easy? International expansion isn't easy, even in the age of online retail. Growing beyond borders requires the right mix of people, knowledge and technology.
Finding the Right People to Reach the Right Markets
As retailers roll out marketing plans in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other expanding economic regions, consumers in those countries will be wary of international companies that don't bother to learn local customs or adequately localize their content. A significant part of that effort hinges on reaching consumers in their own languages across every touchpoint — websites, mobile applications, in-store experiences and more. This takes knowledgeable, skilled translation experts in every stage of the expansion project, but it also requires local staff on the ground.
To ensure that your brand messages come across as intended, you'll need in-country marketing and sales teams. These professionals can measure the efficacy of your brand's messaging and ward off perception problems before they infiltrate local website content, images, advertising or other marketing collateral. For example, Japan-based marketers would have been able to alert the international financial services company that recently featured a Tokyo bridge in its collateral — a bridge that was the topic of heated local debate and conveyed exactly the wrong message to prospects about wealth and value.
A localization team also needs to research the buying habits of prospects abroad. Successful retailers know what time of day their customers like to shop, which devices they prefer to use when they make a purchase and how many times they visit before they buy. That research needs to be conducted in every region in order to inform taglines, product descriptions and other content creation. For example, the No. 1 buyers of luxury items in China are men. That's essential knowledge for any company hoping to sell airline tickets, jewelry or electronics in that country.