Localization: The driving force behind online business success

Localization: The driving force behind online business success

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New business ideas and concepts are launched on the Internet frequently yet only a few achieve success that every Internet company hopes for. The few who do make it are often touted so it’s no surprise to see innovative business ideas being replicated and often bettered in foreign markets. Online business ideas are just as prone to being copied as anything else. There is not much a business can do, registering patents can be costly and time consuming, other than penetrating different markets swiftly.

The online sphere continues to see new business entrants gaining enviable success on the World Wide Web. The current economic climate hasn’t impacted Internet companies as adversely as it has many others. This has bolstered confidence in investors who fund Internet companies that are hoping to become a part of the next big thing. However, any idea that has a hint of success associated with it is replicated in different parts of the world and results in added competition for the start-up source.

Internet companies are initially location specific and cater to a particular country and/or region. The restrictions in place are not due to the idea being location specific but because of limited resources and lack of understanding of foreign markets in part. An online business service or utility in America will always be geared towards the American market initially. This allows a chance for a replicate to pop up in another part of the world which caters to a different market. The term “clones” describes this occurrence, and there are two countries leading the clones industry. Germany and China are home to the most prolific examples of this industry which has in turn spawned its own investment community. One such example is the Samwers, three brothers who hail from Germany. The trio has been churning out highly successful clones for European markets much to the annoyance of their American inspirers for over 12 years.

The Samwer brothers have continually been inspired, as they say, by ideas in America and have developed successful European versions of original American counterparts. The driving force behind their achievements is their focus upon a localized service. A market which might take a foreign company some time to understand, and localise their service for, is already known by locals and this enables them to replicate an idea quickly and efficiently. Several well-known American companies have bought European clones started by the Samwer brothers. This goes as far back as 1999 when Ebay bought Alando, a German online marketplace, for $50 million dollars.

A recent example of the Samwers’ success is Wimdu, an idea inspired from its American competitor Airbnb, an online marketplace for renting rooms and houses. Wimdu gained an edge over Airbnb by providing a localised service in the European markets, their concentration upon providing a similar service in different languages has worked resoundingly well. Today, Wimdu supports 20 languages compared to Airbnb’s 8. Localization is important in making a service or utility suitable for a different market. Its usefulness is exemplified by the success of the clones who dominate other markets when the American company is focused upon American or English-speaking consumers only. Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, in the business world imitation mixed with localization has become the driving force behind success.


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