In 2016, e-commerce sales in the US reached $396 billion and are predicted to grow to 684 billion by 2020. In China, e-commerce is expected to outstrip the US’s with $1 trillion in e-commerce sales in 2016 growing to $2 trillion by 2019. In other emerging markets like Mexico, where internet and mobile penetration is growing, market potential is increasing. While e-commerce sales made up only 8% of total sales in the US in 2016, it’s clear that the growth possibilities are too high to ignore; businesses must be looking at the global market potential.
While there are several well-known “big players” in e-commerce, including Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, and PayPal, there is increasing potential for local B2C and B2B businesses. However, in order to truly capture the potential of the international ’emarket’, companies must consider both their local and global customers.
Get the language right.
When targeting a market, it’s important to consider which languages you must offer, especially when you consider that people prefer to make purchases in their native language. When Target opened its website for international users, offering shipping to Canada, many people were dismayed to find that the website was only available in English, not in French. By not reaching out to the full population, Target cut themselves off from a large market, limiting their potential success in the new country.
Take time to understand what languages you should be using to sell your products, then take the time to get the language right. Make sure that your meaning is conveyed correctly and leaves no room for misunderstandings or translation errors.
Be culturally sensitive.
Beyond ensuring that your translation is correct, employ cultural experts to ensure that you are taking culture into account when localizing your products. For example, should your company employ the use of flags to demonstrate language and region, or is this culturally considered overly political? You should also consider the colors and design elements used in new markets. Does the color hold its intended meaning?
To avoid potential conflict, do your research. Make sure you consider the cultural implications of your product and your services to ensure that you are reaching a wide audience.
Create for a global marketplace.
When naming products and services, designing websites, and writing SEO, keep in mind that all the content needs to be easily adapted to fit international markets. By creating content with an eye on global strategy, you’ll be able to avoid potential holdups in the translation process. You can, for example, create glossary terminology from the beginning — to identify key terminology and how you want to refer to it. You can ensure that all images used are editable to ensure quick and thoughtful design alterations.
While a variety of consumer behaviors will determine the future of e-commerce — such as the increasing reliance on mobile, rather than desktop devices which reveals a space for e-commerce apps, or the use of social media to sell items online (known as social commerce) — for businesses who are looking for new markets, the emarket offers exciting potential that is yet to be fully realized. While in some areas, physical stores are still more valued, the fast spread of the internet has changed the way consumers interact with their products. In the US, for example, 40% of males aged 18-34 (and 33% of females) say they would ideally buy everything online, and 81% of shoppers research products online before buying. Partner with a team of cultural and linguistic experts who can help your business engage with customers on a localand global level in order to capitalize on the possibilities that e-commerce has to offer.