Three Tips from Retail Experts on Going Global


Three Tips from Retail Experts on Going Global

By Liz Elting

Business 2 Community - April 3, 2013

The benefit of e-commerce, as opposed to on-premise shopping, is that the Internet allows us to cross international borders with the click of a mouse. That is where the simplicity of entering a global market ends. At a customer panel TransPerfect hosted recently in New York, retailers, e-tailers and marketers came together to discuss the challenges associated with expanding into global markets. More than 100 people attended to learn what the experienced panelists had to say, about what worked well (or perhaps not so well) when their companies dove into international waters. Some of these panelists represented brands that are household names in the US; others share the same level of name recognition in Europe and Asia.

When a business expands to an international market, there is much more to consider than simply purchasing an airplane ticket and renting local space for a handful of employees. A successful immersion requires that you take the role of each part of your business that functions independently is taken into account. However, as our panelists noted, some of these parts are more significant than others.

One aspect that everyone agreed had a critical impact on their success was establishing culturally appropriate customer service standards for the new market. While having a user-friendly website is critical, businesses can’t overlook the fact that customers everywhere want the option to call a support line or come into the store. Companies need to be prepared to interact appropriately and effectively with their clientele in any scenario. This means taking the time to research the local practices and language preferences in the new territory, rather than simply shifting practices from the US to a new location.

All the retail panelists agreed that these best practices were essential components of their success:

1) A localized web presence is only the first step in developing a global marketing strategy. Don’t overlook issues like customer service interaction, both over the phone and in person. Translated and localized solutions across all points of sale, and even post-sale, should be considered as part of the overall consumer experience.

2) A consistent localization plan must begin by creating and sticking to a terminology glossary and style guide for all translated content, whether it’s website copy, in-store materials, or product packaging. Your entire effort can be badly damaged by using different words or characters for the name of your company or even a product.

3) Proven, professional translation and language services are essential investments, often viewed as competitive advantages, they ultimately increase brand awareness and international success.

Remember, whoever crafts your translations is speaking for you. Who within your company is responsible for conveying your brand message and selecting the translation provider? Should it be a random employee who grew up in the target country 20 years ago, but has no experience with the basics of translation, never mind current language usage? This is where translation and localization services become essential. There isn’t much that will bring a company’s credibility crashing down in a new region faster than a translation slip-up, and machine translation solutions like Google Translate just don’t provide the reliability that will reflect accurately, let alone positively, on an international company. Accurate translation is essential to ensure a company’s effort to enter new global markets will succeed.  Consider the benefits of partnership with experienced professionals. They can provide the localization services you will rely on to make a seamless transition across borders that otherwise cannot be achieved.

When your company starts to plan for expansion across borders, keep these ideas in mind.  It’s now fact: businesses enjoy greater acceptance from new target consumers when they make a seamless entry into the global marketplace.

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