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Is your brand ready for global retail?

in Market Research

global_retail_e-mpire_infographic_finalJPEG-e1395677259722In an increasingly globalised market, localisation continues to be a hot topic of conversation, ranging from ‘how to’ guides to analysis of the more humorous examples of poorly translated content across the world.

A strong focus on the technicalities behind successful localisation, including transcreation of key customer messages, images and cultural references, means that the process of engaging customers, gaining market share, and increasing revenue increasingly caters to a multilingual, cross-border, international audience.

According to data from Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMGR) and CapGemini, online retail sales grew 18% year over year in the UK alone, driven by increased usage of tablets and smartphones.

This growth trajectory is supported in the report The Global Retail Empire, produced by OC&C and Google.  This report predicted that online trade for six of the biggest e-commerce markets (US, UK, Germany, Nordics, France and Netherlands) will grow five-fold from $25bn to $130bn by 2020.

The UK showed an exceptional lead in ecommerce with a trade surplus in excess of $1bn, far outperforming the other markets compared.  While the US takes the lead with mega-brands such as Ebay and Amazon, the UK is a frontrunner largely via the export of fashion and lifestyle brands such as ASOS, Burberry and Net-a-porter.

The research shows that the strategy of multi-lingual websites and localisation has been key for the brands sampled to achieve traction in as many countries as possible.  Combined with prudent strategies for market testing, analysis and supply chain management, the ability to communicate in a target customer’s native language is more important than ever.

Anita Balchandani, Partner at OC&C, said: “Over the next decade, online retail will become even more international. This represents a great opportunity for retailers by providing a new, capital-light approach to grow rapidly. At the same time, internationalisation poses many challenges and will require retailers to master new capabilities and complexities.

“Localisation is crucial to tap into new pockets of demand, from tailoring the range on offer, to localised marketing activity, to ensuring that delivery and payment methods are best suited to country requirements. For example SmartGuy, an online fashion e-retailer in the Nordics, has successfully expanded across Europe through thinking and acting local. Its marketing team delivers local campaigns which translate into demonstrable improvements in sales.

“It is equally critical to localise only where it matters to customers, to avoid the cost and complexity of over-tailoring the retail offer by country. ASOS, for instance, services customers around the world from a single location in the UK but executes its digital marketing activity in a localised way, allowing it to strike the right balance between customer relevance and cost”.

ASOS has consistently demonstrated a strong localisation strategy, combining local messaging and strong website technology with a measured entry to new markets such as Russia and China,  where the retailer commenced trading with 10% of its full range,  building up over the following year in response to the local market demand and trading conditions. As a result to this balanced approach,  ASOS enjoyed a 40% increase in global sales last year,  attracting 42% more shoppers and in the US alone,  sales increased by 57%.


The Global Retail E-mpire report – commentary and infographic referenced with permission.  Available at

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