Ecommerce is a global enterprise. The explosion of online shopping in India has sellers scrambling to find entrance to the market, and China’s ecommerce growth is impressive as well. For sellers, ecommerce has been so democratized that anyone can enter the increasingly crowded field, but it might seem like international appeal is still reserved for the big boxes who can afford fully multilingual marketing strategies.
Selling globally requires a large degree of resources. For example, a multi-bazillion dollar brand like Nike can afford to market itself internationally by operating separate sites for various languages and even offering market-specific products. Most individual and SMB sellers just don’t have time, money, supply chain, or logistics to employ these kinds of strategies.
Doing A Little is Better Than Doing Nothing
Just because you aren’t quite ready to go fully multilingual on your site and marketing doesn’t mean you’ve got to lose out on international sales. Every seller can take small steps to implement a multilingual element to their strategy. It won’t be all encompassing, and you shouldn’t expect to suddenly become Mr. Worldwide like Pitbull, but making a few slight changes to the way you operate can break down the wall between your store and international buyers.
Four Small Changes to Make a Big Splash in the Global Marketplace
1. Try Targeted Social Ads
Using social media in ecommerce is a great way to find new customers. Social media is a marketer’s dream: millions, sometimes billions, of people gathered together in one place, each voluntarily offering up personal information to make targeting easy and fast. You can use this data to help put your products in front of an international audience without having to make your communications fully multilingual.
Using a targeted Facebook ad, you can pre-select the region or country in which you’d like your ad to appear. Not only that, but you can also target based on interests, age, gender, and other factors. If you sell swimwear, dip your toe into international selling by writing an ad in Spanish targeted for users in tropical Mexican locales. Selling baseball gear? Take a swing at Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. The options are limitless.
2. Using a Pro Translator
When I was in my early teens, I used to have so much fun with the English-Spanish dictionaries in my classroom. By fun, I mean looking up curse words with my friends and giggling to ourselves. One friend we had who was fluent in Spanish would always make fun of us for trying to string together broken sentences with the help of a dictionary. Word by word translations done by hand just don’t compare to accurately translated content.
When targeting international markets, be sure to use a professional translator. Translating ecommerce and retail content needs to be done with care and precision. It’s not the kind of thing a non-native speaker of the language should try to tackle on their own. And don’t even get me started on electronic translators. The inaccuracies in the content will make your website seem untrustworthy and damage your ability to convert new traffic into sales.
You could always take that chance, but I would hope you’d want to run your store a bit methodically than myself and my fellow thirteen year-olds did.
3. Understand Cultural Norms
Marketing gafs are hilarious for everybody but the marketer. Gafs become even more likely when you’re dealing with global audiences, and some pretty big brands have fallen victim to it. It’s not hard to blame them. Cultural norms can be very different from one country to another.
To make sure you don’t end up on the next listicle of marketing cultural gafs, keep these tips in mind.
- Run a quick Google search on your product or industry + the country you’re targeting. You might find out your product has different standards there, or is even banned outright.
- Truth is objective, right? Wrong. Different countries have different definitions of what is ethical in marketing. What is considered clever clickbait in the states might be considered total deception in another country.
- Ask a friend! If you’ve got a buddy from the region you’re trying to sell to, double check with them to make sure the content doesn’t clash with any cultural standards.
4. Be Prepared to Scale
Shipping in the United States is hard enough already. Between dropshipping, third-party fulfillment, and merchant fulfillment, there are a lot of options for how you can get your products to your customers quickly and accurately. When you throw an international audience into the mix, things get even more complicated.
That’s why it’s important that your business is ready to scale its operations to manage both increased sales and sales in different countries. You should consider automating order routing for faster, more accurate fulfillment. This and other forms of inventory management can make your new global sales fall in line smoothly with your current process.
Remember: these tips aren’t meant to create a fully thriving international selling strategy. But if you want to experiment and stretch your wings a little, follow these tips and see what interest your product can generate overseas. Just consider this your ecommerce passport.
This was a guest article written by Dion Beary of ecomdash, a multichannel inventory control software for eCommerce sellers allowing sellers to automate inventory control, inventory syncing and multichannel fulfillment.