Nov 20, 20185 min read

How to tailor your brand for the global e-commerce landscape.

by Klarna.com

A New Yorker buys a magazine from a bodega on the corner of their Manhattan block. At the same time, across the globe, a Korean woman buys her child’s first toy. While the transactions couldn’t appear more different on the surface, both consumers are making the same decision: choosing one brand over a competitor.

It’s not enough to be able to sell to shoppers in SoHo – e-commerce has the obvious advantage of existing online – and therefore being accessible to anyone, anywhere. Tapping into just one market, region, or country sells your brand short.

Today’s retailers need to be able to tailor their brands across geographies in order to scale globally, according to Shopify’s Fashion & Apparel Industry Report. Of course, consumer demand and shopping habits will vary based on location, and as a result, sales, product launches, campaigns, and payment solutions need to adapt accordingly.

So what does it really mean to effectively tailor your brand in a global e-commerce world, and who can we look to for international inspiration? Read on for answers and insight.

Getting to global

Entering different markets has a slew of clear benefits, from accessing new customers to gaining entry to diverse suppliers. There are also strategic advantages that may not yield immediate monetary gains but can be transformative to a brand, such as building relationships that lead to innovative partners or investors.

The truth is unless you’re selling sunflowers on the side of a highway (which is still awesome) – then there’s a good chance your business has global appeal. Worldwide, experts predict that the e-commerce segment of fashion and apparel will increase from $408 billion in 2017 to more than $706 billion by 2022, according to the aforementioned Shopify report. This reality presents businesses with incredible opportunity to grow, provided they are able to identify lucrative parallels in markets by honing in on consumer habits. After first identifying these possibilities, it’s crucial to truly understand the cultural shifts and differences between the markets to best serve new territory.

Identifying a new market

When considering new target markets, keep in mind that the biggest market and what may look like the most obvious choice may not be the best one. While it might seem like a clear-cut next step due to population, etc., your product or service needs to be relevant to consumers in that area. This is where market research comes in: what are the shopping habits of your target demographic? What trends are popular?  Is there a way to tailor your existing product to this new and specific group?

Don’t forget to dig into your data for key signifiers and insightful analytics. Take into account things like which regions most frequently ask if you ship to their location, and which countries have high cart abandonment rates.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the ten fastest-growing economies during the years ahead will all be in emerging markets. So be sure to evaluate all options, rather than jumping on a bandwagon. You could be saving yourself considerable amounts of time and money while possibly heading up a new frontier in a market that hasn’t yet been accessed by competitors.

Selling overseas

Leverage your power as a new brand when initially selling overseas – use promo campaigns to offer free shipping for a set period of time, and get shoppers to fall in love with your brand while learning to trust that the goods will actually arrive in their hometown. Another method to improve international integration is to establish localized shipment centers so that goods can be delivered in other countries quickly and efficiently.

If you have the resources, consider investing in an international domain. Adjust the website specifically to appeal to users overseas, testing and optimizing according to local markets. You can also include text translation and currency conversion at checkout to help users navigate with more ease.

As you decide when and what to sell internationally, consider cultural nuances from holidays, to language, to buying behaviors. Paying careful attention can save you serious cash, and put you at an advantage to be received well by new clientele. Aspire to avoid repeating the mistakes of others (ie. the infamous “got milk” campaign which in the Mexican market translated to “are you lactating?”), and instead emulate companies who got it right. Walmart, for example, did a great job integrating into the Chinese culture by switching out their all blue color scheme to an all red look as this bold color symbolizes joy and fortune in China.

Remember that many western holidays are just another Tuesday for foreign consumers, so be sure to invest the time and energy in understanding peak gift giving days and time sales accordingly.

Global payment options

Contrary to our ethnocentric mindset, credit cards are not the standard payment method globally. Hundreds of millions of customers worldwide rely on alternative payment options, and if they don’t see an option they are familiar with, many will opt to buy elsewhere. Don’t neglect this step, as checkout is a huge cart abandonment point for international users either due to lack of payment options or trust in the security of a foreign site.

One way to close this gap is by offering a variety of payment options locally. Klarna offers convenient options allowing consumers to pay later, pay over time in installments, and even try before you buy to meet growing consumer demand. These options can be utilized by local retailers and large corporate retailers alike. Our single integration lets retailers offer their shopping experience to the 11 different countries where Klarna is offered.

It’s a big world out there, and it’s yours to tailor your brand to all the places you’ll go.