Consumer Shopping Cultures and How to Adapt Digital Practices
One of the many benefits of e-commerce is that it provides retailers with access to a global market. But, despite being accessible to customers in seemingly the same way no matter where in the world they are based, consumption patterns and shopping habits differ across countries.
As a result, businesses simply cannot adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach, when targeting international customer bases. Rather, careful consideration of the markets and countries in which you operate is key for success on a global scale.
Businesses often think that an e-commerce offering is all that is required to expand operations across countries. While this is an enabling factor, it is only the beginning.
In order to maximize value and the return on the investment required to expand to begin with, it is vital to adopt a strategized approach, particularly when it comes to marketing and management. Without this, international expansion can become an expensive burden, rather than a brand-building activity.
The reality is different markets respond to activity in different ways. What works in one country will not necessarily work in another. But, with the unified feeling created by the internet, cultural differences are too often overlooked.
For successful overseas expansion, therefore, a business’ online activity must be adapted.
For example, country-specific holidays, national days and other notable dates are key marketing opportunities to drive sales but competition is usually higher at those times. Although some of these are almost universal, such as Christmas, New Year and Halloween, some are marked exclusively inside specific territories.
Take Mother’s Day as an example. The date varies from country to country but the opportunity to drive gift sales in each is too valuable to miss. Of course, keeping up with the changing date for several different countries can become an admin burden. So, instead, businesses should look to automate the process, perhaps even repurpose content and activity, but ensure that it has been tailored to the specific country and audience.
In order for this to benefit both the consumer and the business, the ability to make monetary and language conversions with ease is necessary. While users enjoy a seamless customer experience, regardless of the country from which they are accessing the e-commerce offering, businesses can minimize the cost and resource required for the creation of bespoke content for each market and language.
Similarly, ads on certain platforms may be more successful in some markets than they are in others. The average cost per click varies wildly between platforms, with LinkedIn over ten times as expensive as Facebook. And, 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.
So, not only must content be tailored in terms of language, tone, imagery etc. so must the channels used to deliver it.
Personalization, therefore, is key for any digital activity to be used across borders and cultures.
In order to ensure this is done effectively, businesses should make use of digital tools and platforms that work collaboratively with customers to understand their needs and preferences. And then deliver an experience when, where and how they want it.
When you expand, it follows that you have more activity to manage and monitor. For example, businesses might be using various marketplaces, such as Amazon and Alibaba, to sell their products in different countries. While this can help drive sales and reach more customers, managing orders often becomes a challenge.
But, with the right platform, you can streamline the order process for both improved customer experience and greater business efficiency. For example, a digital platform with a fully integrated order management system (OMS) provides a single view of customers’ purchase histories, which allows businesses to manage orders, provide assistance and draw data and insights to inform more effective marketing activities and other commercial decisions.
Some even offer a consumer-facing dashboard, which enables customers to access a personal online account and manage their own orders, encouraging greater autonomy and, ultimately, customer experience.
Building on this, Daniela Jurado Jabba, Western Europe Head at VTEX, global providers of a cloud-based unified commerce platform, explains how such tools can also be used to create a fully integrated cross-channel strategy, which offers optimum value to both businesses and customers alike.
“No matter the purchase or industry, today’s buying experiences take place within six touchpoints. Despite this, over half of businesses still do not have a cross-channel strategy that connects them.
“But, with a collaborative commerce approach, all channels, including those of suppliers, can be integrated to create a digital ecosystem that delivers an unrivaled value.
“For example, by making visible inventory levels at various points of a supply chain, you can streamline the process from sourcing to order fulfillment, which can minimize waste and save budget. Savings can then be shared with customers or redistributed to other activities aimed at increasing sales and improving experiences.”
While there are various tools and systems available for each of these functions, all-encompassing platforms offer the complete suite in a single unified solution.
As a result, adapting digital practices to suit the cultural shopping habits of different markets becomes that much easier. And, consequently, so does achieving overseas e-commerce success.