Forrester Analyst Evaluates Globalization and Global Markets

eCommerce retailers to Move Beyond “Traditional” International Markets; Sophisticated Localization Plan Required

There is no question that the last year has been brutal on global markets. Zia Daniell Wigder, a senior analyst for the Forrester research firm which specializes in website localization and globalization, acknowledged as much in a recent note entitled The Globalization of eCommerce in 2010. She points to the fact that the Economist, a truly global business magazine, reports on the “end of globalization” and the decline in articles mentioning globalization.

Yet Wigder is more optimistic. Working closely with multinational companies, especially eCommerce giants of retail, Wigder believes growth will accelerate in 2010. She points to an expansion beyond traditional international markets of the UK and Japan:

The easing of the economic downturn is unlikely to unleash a sudden global eCommerce frenzy: companies rightly continue to be cautious with any new global online initiatives. However, the belt-tightening that took place in late 2008 and 2009 proved not to halt international eCommerce expansion – in some cases, the downturn even propelled expansion as international markets looked more attractive than domestic ones. The interest in global markets is only likely to grow in 2010: look for an increasing number of online retailers and other eBusinesses to start expanding beyond the highly developed eCommerce markets of the UK and Japan into other markets in Europe and Asia.

As international retailers move beyond the “traditional” global markets, they must ensure they have a fluid and detailed localization plan in place. Common Sense Advisory, another major analyst, has noted that, even in 2010, consumers around the world prefer to purchase in their mother tongue. While consumers in some “advanced” international markets have a command of English, they still trust those sites more that have localized to their first language. This is particularly true when international retailers reach out to new markets throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and beyond.

And localizing for consumers around the world does not just mean translating a few pages on the website. Sophisticated eCommerce retailers recognize the need to localize everything from product descriptions, to customer service contact information, to customer reviews and comments. There is even a need to look beyond the company’s borders to social media sites where products are discussed and reviewed. A truly successful international retailer must operate in the local languages of its customers, and must do so rapidly. One of our clients knows this well. A provider of review and customer comment services for major international retailers, this client has learned that translating customer letters and comments swiftly is critical. Through our well-developed network of translators and our crowdsourcing translation network, we are able to provide this client with translated materials in just two hours—much less than the 48 hours they requested.

Reaching further into local markets globally, and providing information to new customers around the world rapidly, can set an eCommerce retailer apart from the crowd—and can strengthen a company’s recovery from the economic downturn.

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