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3 Critical Steps to a Seamless Customer Experience when Entering Global Markets

By: Adam Coyle
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Finding success in new global markets isn’t as easy as throwing up an ecommerce site and translating the content. Building long-lasting customer relationships means demonstrating cultural fluency as well as providing a seamless buying experience as part of your market entry strategy.

Expectations for online shopping experiences have never been higher—and they differ from country to country. To succeed in selling globally, your business needs to stand out from the crowd, be culturally competent and leave a lasting impression on potential customers in international markets.

As part of our Commerce Passport series, we recently hosted a live virtual event titled “Attract, Convert, and Keep More Customers: Building Seamless Commerce Experiences.” The event was sponsored by WordPress VIP and speakers included:

  • Tess Needham, Content Marketing Manager, WordPress VIP
  • Cristian Gallardo, Regional Manager Latin America, Avast Software
  • Lina Santa Maria, Director, MarketForce EMEA
  • Mike French, VP of Partnerships and Alliances, Digital River

In a panel discussion, these leaders discussed what it means to provide seamless ecommerce experiences and how brands can accomplish that elusive goal when expanding into international markets. We’ve distilled their global expansion expertise into three imperative steps your company must take to successfully enter new global ecommerce markets.

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

Understand and appreciate the challenge

The first step in creating a successful new market entry strategy is to truly understand and appreciate the scale of the challenge in front of you. Every new target market is different, and you can’t take those differences for granted, even between countries that appear culturally, ethnically or geographically similar.

That means you can’t assume any of your old go-to-market strategies are going to be successful. You need to truly start from the ground up.

“Brands will likely have different KPIs, especially at the beginning,” said Lina Santa Maria. “There’s so many variables in expanding internationally that you have to consider them individually. From the global marketing strategy to the channel strategy to budgeting, to actual expectations for how your brand or product is going to be received in the local market. And everything varies by country.”

Taking a realistic look at the challenge before you will help you determine if the potential market is worth investing in and allocate resources more effectively. You’ll likely need to partner with global experts that can help.

And it’s critical to manage expectations internally. Success in a new global market won’t come overnight, and you may even need to change your definition of success, at least initially.

Truly localize your approach

To succeed in new international markets, you need to operate like a local company and truly understand your new audience and their preferences. That involves launching a robust voice-of-the-customer program, conducting market and competitor research, forming local partnerships and a host of other initiatives to really understand the local opportunity.

“You need to make sure that you have boots on the ground and you have consultation with the local market about what is the best approach there,” Tess Needham said.

The channels you use to reach customers will vary country to country. For example, cold email campaigns are common in the US, but not as feasible in the EU under GDPR regulations. But “going local” also comes down to the shopping experience you offer and the content you create for your website, sales, marketing and other channels.

“Usually, a company prefers to take content used in their main market, typically the US, and then ‘localize it’ for that other country,” said Christian Gallardo. “This is a big mistake because that kind of ‘localization’ is basically just a translation.”

Gallardo said brands need to create content that is firmly positioned within the proper context of that particular market. That means you need to understand nuances in language, cultural considerations, what’s happening in the news, awareness about your product or service, your general brand awareness and much more.

While it may seem like a daunting task, it’s necessary for brands to put in the requisite legwork up front or end up with poor results down the line.

“Better content creates more satisfied customers,” Needham said. “No matter what you sell, content is the heart of your business and it’s how you’re going to drive customers to your products.”

Tie everything together

So, you understand the challenges of global ecommerce, understand the market and have developed a localized go-to-market strategy. How do you package everything together to create a seamless experience that still delivers on your brand promise? Customers are 4.5 times more likely to make a purchase when they experience consistency in the buying experience, according to Gartner.

The key is to make sure that the learning you put into your marketing plan and content and sales strategies is also reflected in your back-office operations such as payment processing, checkout procedures, and order management nuances such as delivery options and returns.

By making sure these kinds of experiences are in accordance with customer expectations (while staying compliant with international regulations), you can adapt your brand and create a localized ecommerce experience that eliminates friction for customers and ultimately delivers results.

“The bottom line is that one size does not fit all,” said Santa Maria. “You have to feel comfortable in your own shoes in the local market before you make any decisions.”

Ready to dig deeper?

For more valuable insights from our panelists about attracting and retaining customers in a global ecommerce environment, check out our latest podcast episode. Be sure to subscribe to our Commerce Connect podcast for future episodes with industry experts.

Don’t miss our next live Commerce Passport virtual event on July 1 titled “Deliver a Localized Shopping Experience: Optimize Payments for Global Conversions.”

To learn more about how Digital River can help take your brand global while offering seamless ecommerce experiences, connect with us today.