Ecommerce Makes Digital Globalization Happen

Oct 25, 2016

Article ImageEcommerce is one of the fastest growing industries and one of the most challenging fields in terms of digital globalization. In many ways it is a battle field where global giants have to compete with regional and local players to deliver what customers want as quickly, accurately, and personally as possible. There is no surprise that it proves globalization has to meet localization to keep up with competition, diversity, and change. Simply analyzing why this borderless industry is successful in so many countries should convince anyone who has not fully embraced localization that it is a profit driver, rather than an option or an afterthought.

Globalizing content, and localizing it at scale, play crucial roles in the continued expansion of ecommerce across a number of markets and are therefore considered reliable business performance indicators. Here is a brief overview of a few globalization best practices powering international ecommerce behind the scenes—which are focused on simplicity, automation, and centricity.

Market entry and support through holistic customer understanding--Getting to know all facets of your customers in various markets is a must in order to define the level of sensitivity and the varying expectations that have to be met. That approach applies to new markets as much as to those that have been addressed already. It is also essential in order to speak the true and natural language of customers according to what they do, where they are or how they react. This means going beyond words to deal with emotions, cultures, or habits at each touch point of the customer experience--ranging from discovery to purchase, delivery, and assistance.

Data and insights are the most valuable assets needed to initiate or increase the level of awareness and understanding. They put content owners and product managers in the shoes of customers to anticipate, meet, and exceed spoken or unspoken requirements. Ecommerce players have grasped and leveraged this so well that some of them see themselves as data companies more than anything else. And they keep performing to support local customers along the way and determine where and when globalization and localization investments should be made.

Agile design through proper and timely internationalization--Ecommerce properties put principles of market driven and customer centric design perfectly into practice. By adopting flexible user interface components and features, these sites create compelling digital ecosystems and experiences. Global readiness enables them to get the balance right among consistency, coherence, and adaptability in their content from a design, linguistic, and functional perspective.

International Alibaba properties are great examples of digital pragmatism and should not be rated by comparing them, but by proving how far and deep they are aligned with standards and requirements from markets they are trying to target. Visitors, leads, and customers can see the reflection of their familiar environment. Making the overall design agile from the outset does not only speed up the new market entry process but it also helps maintain end-to-end effectiveness in all markets over time

Customer centricity through localization and hyperlocalization--Ecommerce moves at the speed of digital, and so must localization processes and leaders. Actually localization in the ecommerce industry turns out to be one of the most efficient combinations of artificial and human intelligence. On one hand, content has to be localized with a great deal of automation to deliver on promises in the global marketplace. Automation plays out in various ways. Recent machine learning and translation progress makes it is easier and faster than ever before to localize large volumes of content. In addition fully or partially automated workflows allow for better synchronized, and more streamlined, content operations in general, and optimized localization supply chains in particular.  For instance, advanced automation generates much value when localizing structured and frequently updated content. In any case, it must be used whenever it adds value to avoid causing disappointment among stakeholders and customers (and therefore being counterproductive eventually).

On the other hand, localized content has to be engaging and fluid at every step of the customer journey. Human resources such as professional linguists, language analysts, terminologists, and copywriters remain best positioned to give the final touch in terms of accuracy, consistency, and relevance. Human editing and fine tuning takes descriptive or narrative content to the next level when it comes to jazzing up product information or customized guidance for international customers. The alliance between human and artificial intelligence becomes an ongoing process as AI becomes smarter and smarter. It is no longer about capturing and processing it. It is now evolving to understand it seriously and create actionable output. Neural machine translation highlights this quite obviously and is there to stay.

Ecommerce has been pioneering and leading major aspects of globalization since the early days of the internet. As an industry delivering on the promises of global digital experiences it continues to challenge established practices to delight local customers. Equally important, it does whatever it takes to execute internationalization, localization, and customer experience plans.