The number of internet users worldwide continues to grow and will surpass 3 billion in 2015, significantly impacting e-commerce sales. According to the World Bank, 42 percent of the global population can access the internet in some capacity, and the majority are using the internet to shop. Shoppers around the world will spend an estimated $1,592 Trillion online in 2015. This number is expected to grow to $2.489 trillion by 2018. While countries who have had access to the internet through desktop and mobile devices for years will continue to see a growth in e-commerce sales, it will be emerging countries whose populations that are still new to the internet (like India and China) that will drive the most growth.
The seemingly instant growth of e-commerce, as well as other external factors, has created new challenges for manufacturers. Not only must global manufacturers target audiences across the globe that speak different languages and have different cultural norms; they must also work with third-party suppliers in order to keep shipping and material costs as low as possible to not inhibit growth. Additionally, Federal and local regulations must be considered as well. These challenges all will require a stronger approach to localization to ensure the customers’ needs are met, messaging is consistent, and the supply chain as a whole is on the same page.
How Is the Foreign Customer Experience? In a Common Sense Advisory study published in 2014, 75% of survey respondents from across the globe said that they would more likely purchase an item online if the product description and packaging were in their native language. The results of the study also indicated that other aspects of website localization were crucial to customer experience, including privacy, payment methods, and customs. Therefore, manufacturers must localize their product pages to improve foreign customer experience as well as sales.
Transcribing Your Content Across Multiple Platforms: Mobile e-commerce is driving foreign and domestic internet sales in part because of its ease of use. Potential customers can use their phones and tablets to make purchases with just a few taps anywhere they want. This means the whole website must be easily adaptable to these mobile platforms to ensure proper localization. Length of articles and how they are displayed must be amended to cater to these changes in how customers access the site.
Social Media: The emergence of social media is another area that will require attention paid by localization teams. A global manufacturer’s brand and messaging extends well past its website. Many users’ first experience with a brand is through social media, user reviews, and other areas of the web that may be overlooked in a localization strategy. Global manufacturers must not only make their social media and web presence accessible to customers of foreign markets; manufacturers should also use any data collected from these social media sites to amend their offerings to better reflect their customers’ needs and wishes.
Quality Management: More manufacturers are outsourcing to drive down costs and improve quality for the customer. In one study, this number was as high as ninety percent. In order to oversee quality and ensure efficiency, manufacturers are investing heavily in automated quality manufacturing systems to eliminate manual workflows and communications systems. Stronger regulations from the FDA and other regulatory bodies are driving these changes as well. One aspect of quality management that can’t be overlooked is language translation. Manufacturers must be able to communicate with their vendors, suppliers, and customers in their native languages to ensure processes and product information are understood, and there isn’t a lapse across the supply chain.
Although many things are changing as e-commerce becomes more global, one thing that will never change is how well a business treats its customers. Localization is crucial to ensure product quality, proper branding, and a good customer experience.