You’ve heard the global business success stories and are now ready to sell your online products across borders, either as an expansion of your existing business or as a whole new venture. But few businesses consider the importance of focusing on e-commerce branding. No, we’re not referring to just logos or taglines.
Successful international brands are those that catapult beyond the delivery of a reliable product or service—what we would call the ‘functional’ element—and consider the ‘emotional’ element—how their product makes consumers feel. Building and sustaining this emotional connection can be a key differentiator as consumers engage across your website, mobile app and various other touchpoints. Being recognizable, memorable and associated with a great product or service conveys a distinct competitive advantage anywhere in the world. What is your company’s identity as an online seller? What does it stand for?
The global, online shopping marketplace is heavily populated, no matter what kind of merchandise or service your company sells. Your customers have plenty of choices when it comes to which businesses they’ll transact with, so your distinctive e-commerce branding will be an essential part of making your offerings stand out.
If you haven’t already established your brand or you want to ensure your brand is ready to go global, make sure to follow these important guidelines.
Build an emotional connection in a global marketplace
Being authentic and delivering a consistent message will help to build an emotional connection with your consumers. Not every brand will build the remarkable loyalty that Apple or a Nike have established across the world over many decades. Brand loyalty is built over time; it’s a marathon and not a sprint. The foundation of this begins with fulfilling your customer promise. The first step is having your employees live the brand in everything they do. For example, it’s widely recognized throughout our global organization that every one of our employees is responsible for fulfilling this promise. At DHL, we strive to fulfill our customer promise of “Excellence. Simply Delivered.” This message is emphatically delivered to every one of our 100,000+ employees through in-person training. This helps to support the emotional connection between our brand and our customers.
Another great example of this is Walmart. They have thousands of physical locations in the U.S., have expanded into 26 other countries and also operate e-commerce websites in 10 countries. They deliver every day on their customer promise of “Save money. Live better.” This strategically combines the functional element of saving money with the emotional element of living better.
Understand how your e-commerce brand translates
Whenever someone discusses the importance of managing your brand across borders, they inevitably raise the story about how Chevy couldn’t understand why their “Nova” model didn’t sell in Spanish-speaking markets because “No Va” translates to “Doesn’t Go”. I hesitated to even bring it up here because this is a patently false story. Nonetheless, it does illustrate a cautionary tale (albeit, a fictional one). It is very important to understand the markets you intend to penetrate, be certain that any branding or logos make sense, and avoid offending your potential audience. As Gwen Moran of Entrepreneur correctly points out, “A clever brand or product name in one language may translate into an embarrassing misstep in another.”
Embrace social media and digital marketing
Because, you’re an e-commerce business, the correct use of online marketing to promote your website couldn’t be understated. It’s vital for your brand to tell a story that international consumers can relate to. From social media to blog posts and email marketing, there are plenty of ways to spread your story online. As you do this, the people you’re informing and entertaining are gaining an emotional stake in your products, and they’ll be eager to see what you do next. This is a great start for your organization.
Such a personality-forward strategy won’t work, however, if your catchy marketing materials are never seen. That’s why the data behind audience targeting and segmentation are equally important. As E-Commerce Nation contributors John and Peter Adelakun acknowledge, any and every element of a company’s online presence can be tailored to suit audience interests – even the name of your business or website. As you personalize your consumer touchpoints, keep your website top-of mind. There are many companies out there like Global-e that will help you localize the consumer experience including currencies, payment options and languages.
Interact with your consumers
While your audience’s interactions with your marketing efforts are a passive way of reinforcing trust in your brand, you can take a much more active hand in appealing to consumers through the way you provide customer service, as well as your presence on social media. In an era when shoppers are able to speak directly to international e-commerce companies online, these two mediums are closely related to one another.
Providing responsive and attentive service in native languages is key as you grow your international e-commerce footprint. And as your brand grows, that means integrating your brand’s key messages into your service efforts and keeping your online tone of voice consistent with your offline branding—all while being readily available to listen to your customers. The social media part of communications is complicated by the fact that today’s landscape is fragmented between the major platforms, with each site having its own mixture of audience demographics and best practices. Writing for Multichannel Merchant, consultant Jessica Thiefels recommends performing research to determine where your audience wants to interact with you. Why? Because spending time and money on channels your customers don’t use is wasteful.
Make sure your website is prepared to sell globally
At the center of your e-commerce business is your website. If this is not properly prepared for international shoppers, you are almost certainly doomed to fail selling across borders. Make sure you’re ready by taking this short website health assessment. This assessment will help you understand and address any gaps your website may have in order to grow international sales.
When you’re new to the world of international e-commerce, your company may require experienced assistance to get up and running. To get this help, you can enlist a third-party partner like DHL to handle your logistical and fulfillment needs. Especially when you’re targeting a new market in a region where you don’t have an existing presence, this assistance can get you off to a running start, leaving you with the ability to please your customers quickly and keep them loyal. The satisfaction that comes with this great service will then create positive associations with your brand.