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Gain an Onshore Advantage: 4 Elements for a Successful Global Ecommerce Strategy

By: Adam Coyle
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Expanding into new global markets represents a tremendous growth opportunity for ecommerce brands, but it also comes with significant challenges. There are important customer engagement considerations like creating brand awareness and demand for your product while providing a compelling shopping experience. But equally important are the back-end functions that make it possible to operate your ecommerce business in a new foreign market.

You need to consider things like payments, transaction processing, fulfillment, compliance and tax remittance. All of these factors can be unique to each new market. So, successful global expansion really comes down to mastering localization: looking, feeling and operating like a local company. This is a concept that we call the “Onshore Advantage.”

In the first episode of our monthly Commerce Passport series, we hosted a live virtual event titled Boost Your Global Ecommerce Strategy: Gain an Onshore Advantage. Speakers included:

• Paul do Forno, Managing Director for Deloitte Digital
• James Sudworth, Head of Digital for Egress Software Technologies
• Adam Coyle, CEO of Digital River
• Mike French, VP of Partnerships and Alliances at Digital River

These experts shared their insights on what ecommerce companies need to do to manage the complexity of global expansion and successfully break into new markets. Here are four of the top insights the panel shared.

You can also view an on-demand version of the live event here.

1. Devise a macro entry strategy

To build local onshore capabilities, you first have to dive into the market analysis in detail and really understand the opportunity. This is critical because the feasibility and cost of entry sometimes get lost in the true local nuances. You need to get a comprehensive view of the market, starting with understanding the customer, the competition and the market size. Then, it’s crucial to move into legal and privacy concerns, fulfillment channels, third-party delivery and supply chain logistics.

All of these things come together to provide a comprehensive view of the market so you can devise a macro entry strategy. That strategy, coupled with a growth mentality instilled at every level of your company, should guide your decision making throughout your expansion into new global markets.

2. Understand your customer

A crucial part of developing a macro entry strategy for new global markets is truly understanding the local customer in detail. This includes things like preferred payment methods, language nuances, expectations for delivery, marketing, customer support and more. The consumer should always be at the center of every strategic decision you make.

While “know your customer” may seem like a basic concept, it is critically important that you devote the time and resources to getting it right. Even companies with high brand awareness and demand in new markets have failed in their global expansion efforts because they made assumptions about the local customer.

To avoid those mistakes, build a robust voice-of-the-customer program that utilizes interviews, surveys or other means to drill down into what makes those local consumers unique. Maintain your brand promise, but also target it to those nuanced differences. You won’t be able to transpose sales strategies to new markets based on previous market data because no two countries are the same. Make sure to repeat your customer analysis processes in every new global market you’re looking to enter.

3. Create a comprehensive system of record

For successful global expansion, it’s vital that companies invest correctly to create a company-wide system of record for all customer records, no matter where they are in the world. One example is investing in technology that allows you to join your global customer support data with your sales database to provide a premium customer experience. The goal is to build comprehensive marketing and sales strategies based on a complete picture of the customer, from acquisition to the end of their lifecycle.

This holistic approach to customer records will allow you to be more successful in demand generation and develop localized sales strategies that get results globally. So, making an early decision about having a system of record for your global customer data is absolutely vital – and may require partnering with brands who can provide this for you.

4. Leverage partnerships effectively

One of the ways to help ensure you invest in global expansion correctly is to decide which operations you want to control in the new market. It’s crucial for brands to think about what responsibilities and work they want to take on, and what they want to get through a partner. That will help inform your decision about where you’re going to invest most effectively.

Focus on your core competencies and try to find vendors who truly understand your company and bring your company DNA into the process. When expanding globally, choose a partner who can take on things like payments and risk so you can concentrate on creating the products your customers want. That way, you can create a truly excellent customer experience and achieve global ecommerce success in your new markets.

Want to dive in further?

We recorded a podcast with our expert speakers from this live event so they could go more in-depth on these global ecommerce expansion topics. Listen below and be sure to subscribe to our Commerce Connect podcast!

To discover how Digital River can help your ecommerce brand expand globally with the Onshore Advantage, connect with us today.