I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the job I do: Every year, I get to explore new markets around the globe and meet people who are equally passionate about building eCommerce businesses.
It's sometimes challenging to try and balance the fact that at Forrester, we are often brought to new places specifically to share our expertise — at the same time, our goal is to learn as much as possible while we're there. Many professionals looking to launch new offerings or pursue new partnerships outside of their own country face similar issues: They aim to both provide insights based on their experiences as well as to absorb knowledge that will help inform corporate strategies.
Having had some great meetings over the years and others where I’ve regretted my approach, I now try to adhere to three rules whenever I start a conversation with executives in a new market:
1. Come with a hypothesis, but prepare for it to evolve. Conversations flow much more easily if you have a framework or hypothesis for what trends you're likely to see in a market — just be ready for holes to be poked in different parts of your theory. In a recent conversation with the CEO of an online retailer in Russia, for example, I indicated that online travel sales often paved the way for retail eCommerce to take off, and asked if the situation was similar there. The CEO explained that in Russia, consumers' reliance on package tours — which are not generally sold online — meant that online travel hadn't flourished to the same degree as it had elsewhere in the world. Finding these exceptions is essential to understanding the nuances of each market.
I’m currently tackling a report on the tools & technology necessary for eCommerce organizations to expand internationally. It is one of the reports for the eCommerce Globalization playbook and aims to put a global lens on some of the research we’ve done on the eCommerce solution provider landscape. Numerous types of vendors contribute to the globalization process – in this report, we’ll examine only a few key areas including:
Global-Ready Commerce Suites. Pulling from our B2C Commerce Suites Wave last year, we’ll analyze which of the included companies scored particularly well on their globalization capabilities. We’ll also look at the commerce platforms that SMEs tend to gravitate toward around the globe, and identify some of the country-specific solutions that have emerged in different regions.
Global Commerce Service Providers. We will also be discussing which of the companies included in our Global Commerce Service Providers Wave excelled when it came to helping brands with their global market expansion and which ones have the most extensive global footprints.
In my post last month about global themes from recent events, I cited logistics as the scariest part of international expansion for eCommerce organizations. Nowhere is this more true than in emerging markets. Only a small percentage of warehousing facilities tend to be modern enough for eCommerce operations and identifying reliable fulfillment providers is a particularly thorny challenge. Horror stories abound:
For North American and European brands, one of the issues is that many of their existing logistics partners are not present in emerging markets – or do not provide the same depth of offerings in these markets – requiring brands to forge new relationships. There are, however, some less traditional types of players that brands are turning to as potential partners in the logistics space. Below are three models that have emerged beyond the typical suite of solution providers and examples of each: