Long gone are the days in which eCommerce site localization means just translating language and accepting localized payment methods. In a high stakes environment, where a global roll out of direct localized sites can mean millions of dollars of investment, eBusiness professionals responsible for managing international customer-facing websites must localize effectively or risk damaging the reputation of their brands and stifling growth.
Forrester published a report today that outlines seven mission-critical areas to any website localization initiative. Among these imperatives are:
Consistent Domain Structures. The best practice in a domain name strategy for a multinational company is to maintain a strong global brand by using the same domain strategy across the globe. There are four common URL strategies available to firms today: country code top-level domains or ccTLDs (e.g., acme.br), subfolders (e.g., acme.com/br/portugues), subdomains (e.g., br.acme.com), and brand-level global top-level domains or gTLDs (e.g., annualreport.acme). The report provides detailed considerations for each domain convention.
SEO-optimized site content. It is essential to make sure the website’s translated content is easily discoverable for consumers and is positioned to rank at the top of dominant local search engines. eBusiness leaders must understand search engine market share and local market semantics in order to come up on top.
It's simple math: The sheer volume of translatable website content multiplied by the number of languages needed to globalize can make a translation initiative out of reach. The truth is that machine translation (MT) offers access to otherwise unreadable information for global consumers.
While it’s true MT can't account for context and tone and often fails to grasp the nuances and ambiguities of language, there are several technology advancements improving the quality and efficiency of MT. Additionally, the MT engines offered by language service providers aren't the humble online translation tools of yore. They include complex rules engines and sophisticated algorithms, which are often also trainable and customizable based on industry terminology, resulting in much higher quality translation output.
Before dismissing MT, eBusiness leaders should consider that:
Big data has made a big impact. Faster and more sophisticated algorithms allow for greater efficiency and accuracy in translation processes and workflows.MT relies on the coding and matching of languages — a vast and variable data set — thus, it has benefitted greatly from advances in analytics and data processing.
Translation memory is boosting translation quality and efficiency. Translation memories are sophisticated language databases that store already translated content. By leveraging previously translated content, firms can reduce the volume of new content to translate plus improve consistency in translation outcomes.
We just published our predictions report for global eCommerce in which we identify 10 trends and discuss the impact they’ll have on the industry in 2015. We look at key commerce topics such as mobile and omnichannel and also address what we expect to see from some of the global eCommerce giants in terms of their international efforts in 2015. In addition, we explore topics such as:
The B(R)IC markets will continue to attract attention, but smaller ones will also gain traction. Next year, we expect to see continued interest in Brazil, India and China (the political situation in Russia means it will be bumped down the list for many US and European brands). However, all of these markets will remain challenging for varying reasons and we expect that other emerging markets will gain traction with brands in 2015. Indeed, a look at the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index shows the BRIC markets falling well below other markets like Malaysia, Thailand, the UAE, Mexico and Colombia. Many eCommerce organizations won’t yet be able to justify the cost of launching direct-to-consumer sites in these smaller markets, but a handful of large global organizations will jump in to establish a brand for themselves before their counterparts do the same. Brands looking to sell cross-border will also turn their attention to smaller but fast-growing eCommerce markets.
Last month I attended Huawei’s annual Global Analyst Summit, for the requisite several days of mass presentations, executive meetings and tours that typically constitute such an event. Underneath my veneer of blasé cynicism, I was actually quite intrigued, since I really knew very little about Huawei. And what I did know was tainted by popular and persistent negatives – they were the ones who supposedly copied Cisco’s IP to get into the network business, and, until we got better acquainted with our own Federal Government’s little shenanigans, Huawei was the big bad boogie man who was going to spy on us with every piece of network equipment they installed.
Reality was quite a bit different. Ancient disputes about IP aside, I found a $40B technology powerhouse who is probably the least-known and understood company of its size in the world, and one which appears poised to pose major challenges to incumbents in several areas, including mainstream enterprise IT.
So you don’t know Huawei
First, some basics. Huawei’s 2013 revenue was $39.5 Billion, which puts it right up there with some much better-known names such as Lenovo, Oracle, Dell and Cisco.
eCommerce revenues are soaring around the globe. This year, the US, Western Europe, and China alone will generate over $800 billion in online retail sales. Growth rates, too, remain staggering in many countries: China’s massive online retail market will more than double between 2013 and 2018, as will Brazil’s. India’s much smaller market will grow by eight-fold during this timeframe.
However, a litany of businesses have failed as they attempted to tap into shoppers outside of their home markets, with many large US and European brands factoring prominently on the list of casualties. eCommerce is no exception: Numerous eCommerce businesses have taken the plunge into new markets, only to find their offerings didn’t resonate with local consumers or they were outsmarted by much savvier local rivals.
What separates successful global eCommerce businesses from their counterparts? Which tactics have proven particularly effective for brands aiming to extend their reach into new markets? What are some of the most common challenges businesses tend to encounter? Our newly published eCommerce globalization playbook helps brands through the thorny process of global expansion. Clients can read our playbook for insights on how to:
Discover and quantify international revenue opportunities. Our playbook includes reports outlining the global opportunity and identifying how eCommerce markets typically develop with time. Our online retail forecasts for the US and Canada, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America provide a quantitative look at market sizes and eCommerce trends in these regions.
IT complexity hurts business. This is even more the case when a company has global markets and global operations. Essential business needs such as a single integrated view of global customers, or consistent product or service portfolio become impossible to achieve.
Managing IT complexity to support business strategy is a big challenge for enterprise architects at large companieswhen a company has global operations, as is the case for Telstra, an Asia-based telecommunications firm. However Telstra’s enterprise architecture (EA) team addressed its challenges by focusing on customer engagement, improved agility, and global business strategy enablement. Because of their success, they were one of the six firms to win the InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award in 2012.
Build Capability Maps To Link Business Goals And Transformation Requirements. Business capability maps are a core tool that enterprise architects use to identify their organization’s strengths and gaps and support its business strategy. Architects should leverage industry standard frameworks like eTOM to build a custom map, overlay it with business goals, and use it to assess and prioritize needed changes.
This is a guest post from Lily Varon, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals
Today, eBusiness professionals are struggling with how to engage their clients around the globe via a website that meets varying language and cultural needs. Additionally, they’re faced with deciding between the different technical implementation methods with language service providers. Forrester has recently published a report to help eBusiness professionals navigate the maze of solutions and vendors at hand to help implement their translation and localization strategy.
Before evaluating solutions and signing contracts, eBusiness professionals must consider these important questions:
What is the right mix of translation methods? There is no replacement for translation done by a professional translator in terms of quality output, but the sheer volume of website content, the increasing demand for quick turnaround, and the number of languages needed far exceed the capacity of using all human translation. Many enterprises use a combination of translation methods (e.g., human translation, machine translation, human-aided machine translation, crowdsourcing) to execute on their international initiatives and fulfill their translation needs while keeping project costs under control.
Over the past 12 months, I’ve taken a number of client inquiries on globalization and multilingual strategies. But in all cases, it turned out that the challenge wasn’t really providing multilingual support. Instead, organizations are struggling to meet demand among customers, suppliers, partners, regulators and others for direct access to core enterprise systems from multiple regions, often through mobile devices or pervasive web applications. So the real question is: How are user engagement strategies affecting our ability to achieve a single, global business and technology platform that supports the increasingly pervasive use of mobile technologies?
This is now a top-of-mind consideration for many companies, especially as emerging markets are an increasingly important part of their global business strategies. The challenge is how best to tailor and adapt their products and services to capitalize on these emerging market opportunities without losing the benefits of economies of scale and the requirements for global transparency and compliance. And it’s not just about global IT service delivery; it’s about how technology can now serve the unique needs of both internal and external users, particularly where major differences may exist across language, culture, law, infrastructure, geography, value systems, and the economy.
Today is, apparently, Cyber Monday in the UK. But there's a more interesting story in the UK's eCommerce market. It's about tax.
The debate is about the tax policies of a number of prominent multi-national businesses that operate in the UK, including Amazon, eBay, Google, Starbucks and Vodafone, most of which pay little or no Corporation Tax, which is levied as a percentage of profits. (It's relatively easy and perfectly legal for a subsidiary of a multi-national company to avoid taxes on profits in one country by buying services from a sister company in another country so that it makes no profit in the first country.)
Today, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons published a scathing report on tax avoidance by multi-national companies operating in the UK. As the report puts it about Starbucks, which has made no profits in the UK for 14 of the past 15 years: "We found it difficult to believe that a commercial company with a 31% market share by turnover, with a responsibility to its shareholders and investors to make a decent return, was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK." What the committee says about Amazon is, if anything, worse.
What's the relevance to eBusiness? While it's uncomfortable for Google and Starbucks to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons, demand for both information and coffee is (presumably) fairly constant through the year. But for retailers Amazon and eBay, the timing couldn't be worse, because this debate is taking place in the run-up to Christmas, the crucial sales period for all retailers in the UK.
I recently had a chance to catch up with another global eCommerce enthusiast: Hendrik Laubscher works for PriceCheck, a price comparison site in South Africa owned by MIH Internet Africa. He and I sat down for a coffee to talk all things developing eCommerce markets. A few things that came out of our conversation:
In South Africa, payments and broadband connectivity remain hurdles to eCommerce adoption. South Africa, the continent’s largest eCommerce market, remains at a relatively early stage, with several inhibitors preventing the market from truly flourishing. Although credit and debit card usage is growing, overall penetration remains low, even in comparison to other large emerging markets. PayPal offerings have been a challenge, as well — currency issues and restrictions that required users to be registered FNB online banking customers prevented many from taking advantage of this payment method. Additionally, the country’s low overall Internet penetration — in particular, broadband penetration — also presents hurdles. The CEO of Woolworths in South Africa recently said that faster, cheaper broadband was essential for eCommerce to flourish, but estimated that this scenario remained “about four years off.”