In the ever-evolving world of ecommerce, where customers are more demanding and markets more competitive, speed has emerged as a crucial competitive differentiator. We’re not just talking about website load times or product delivery speeds. Another essential metric, too often overlooked, is a brand’s speed to market.
How quickly can your business conceptualize, create, and deliver a product to the end consumer? Let’s dive deeper into understanding the concept and its significance, especially for those looking to venture into international markets.
What Is Speed to Market?
Speed to market, often interchangeably used with time to market, is the span between an idea’s inception and its materialization as a product or service that’s available for purchase.
This doesn’t just mean launching a new product but developing all that surrounds and supports a product’s eventual sale. That means the work of identifying trends and demand in specific markets and understanding local regulations. It also entails setting up a flexible, fast logistics network. And it o requires close attention to deploying localized content and shopping experiences.
Why Speed to Market is So Important
Navigating the expansive world of ecommerce, especially when aiming for global reach, demands more than just quality products and user-friendly interfaces.
Timing, particularly the speed with which a brand can adapt and deliver, has become essential. Here’s why speed to market has emerged as a cornerstone for ecommerce brands eager to make their mark on the international stage:
- Unlocking a Competitive Advantage: In the dynamic world of ecommerce, being first or among the early movers often translates to grabbing significant market share. It allows a brand to set the tone and standards, forcing competitors to play catch-up. This proactive approach can lead to a dominant market position and serious staying power.
- Improving Brand Reputation: A brand known for its quick adaptability and responsiveness may be seen as forward-thinking and innovative. By ensuring a faster time to market, businesses can position themselves as trendsetters rather than followers, boosting their image in the eyes of consumers.
- Enhancing Customer Experience: Consumers value businesses that can quickly cater to their evolving needs. A faster speed to market means that you’re listening to your customers and are agile enough to serve them exactly what they want, when they want it.
- Increasing Flexibility: Speed to market isn’t just about speed—it’s also about flexibility. A business that can swiftly pivot its strategy based on market demands demonstrates resilience and adaptability, vital traits for sustained growth in ecommerce.
- Accelerating Growth: Speed often translates directly to growth in the ecommerce sector. The faster a business can respond to market needs, the more opportunities it seizes—leading to increased sales, greater market share, and enhanced brand visibility. Indeed, a classic study from McKinsey found that a product that is six months late to market earns 33% less profit over five years; whereas, if it is released on time but is 50% over budget, this cuts into profits by only about 4%.
5 Strategies to Improve Speed to Market
Having established the importance of speed to market for ecommerce brands, especially those with global aspirations, the question now is how do you achieve it?
The answer lies in adopting the right strategic measures. By streamlining processes, leveraging technological solutions, and partnering with experts, brands can accelerate their go-to-market timelines and start driving growth sooner.
Here are five strategies that catalyze entry into global markets:
- Invest in Data Analytics and Market Research: Before you can be first, you need to know where to go. By harnessing the power of data analytics and regular market research, businesses can anticipate emerging ecommerce trends, predict customer behavior, and create products or solutions that are almost pre-emptive in their approach.
- Lean into Agile Methodologies: Adopting agile practices isn’t restricted to software development. Ecommerce businesses can benefit by building cross-functional teams that work in sprints, enabling quicker decision-making and more iterative approaches to product launches. This ensures continuous feedback and the ability to refine offerings in real-time. Indeed, improved time-to-market was identified as one of the core benefits of these well-known methodologies.
- Automate Where Possible: Automation, from inventory management to customer service chatbots, can drastically reduce the time required for numerous processes. This not only improves ecommerce operational efficiency but ensures that your business can scale quickly without increasing headaches.
- Deploy Local Expertise: When thinking of expanding into international markets, don’t just think of translating content. Engage in localized product development, understanding the cultural nuances, preferences, and regulatory environments. This approach ensures a smoother and faster launch in these new terrains.
- Choose the Right Partner: If you’re keen on a truly accelerated speed to market strategy, especially when expanding internationally, partnering with industry experts is crucial. Digital River streamlines your ecommerce expansion, taking the heavy lifting off your shoulders. By mitigating risks, handling taxes and compliance, processing payments, and localizing customer experiences, Digital River ensures that your speed to market isn’t just fast—it’s also incredibly efficient and comes with a lower total cost of ownership. Learn more today about how our merchant of record service can help you deploy into new markets in as little as 6 weeks.