Fine Tuning Cultural Context in Global Ecommerce

1540997910_dd04a385ae_zBy Andrew Greissman

In an article by Grieg Holbrook from Multichannel Merchant, he calls for US based companies to improve the way that they look at the rapidly evolving world of global ecommerce. There are many moving parts to the equation, from the Google-challenging search engines native to countries like China and Russia, to the difficulties presented by fulfillment on an international scale, however one issue introduced is potentially more nuanced and difficult to address than either of these. That is the question of adapting branded messaging to differences in global cultures. In his article, Holbrook cites a couple of examples to paint a vivid picture of the scale of the challenge ecommerce companies are dealing with:

Take Switzerland, for instance. It has four official languages and apart from the native Romansh language none were “born” in Switzerland (German, French and Italian). In the case of Indonesia, it has approximately 700 languages spoken at any one time. The exact same item can be called something different just miles apart. For example, while in most of France a sweet roll in chocolate is referred to as ‘pain au chocolat,’ but in the southwest they call it ‘chocolatine.’ If your SEM keyword is wrong in the wrong market your results will be unsatisfying.

Global companies have a couple of tools in their belts that can allow them to contend with the major challenge of serving culturally relevant branding and communications on a world-wide scale.

Big data, small segments. 

The data that is collected every day in a global ecommerce setting is staggering, and when looked at as it comes in through multiple channels without a clear strategy, it can quickly become overwhelming. The key to translating big data into an effective personalization strategy is through a stronger approach to segmentation, taking a market and breaking it down from macro demographics like language, age, and gender into smaller and smaller segments based on interest and real-time location. For an ecommerce executive, the ultimate goal is to be able to synchronously manage locally targeted campaigns across continents, but this starts with movements away from siloed data management suites and into suites that are able to track and reconcile customer movements across channels.

Native language Search Engine Management (SEM).

If your brand has a stake in being found on a search engine in Russia, it makes logical sense to have team managing SEO that is able to approach it from the perspective of the “Russian internet”. While in a global context, this can present additional challenge from markets where internet content is censored or restricted, in general, taking a local-eye view of the markets that you are interested in entering and basing your keywords on local or near local recommendations will allow you to achieve maximum visibility.

Foreign language copy audits.

Just as important as the ability to be found is the ability for your site to hold the attention of visitors and take them to the point of making a purchase. A first round of translation can take the copy of your site and change it into your target language, but after that point, a copy audit can be used to fine tune the tone on more local levels. A single local idiom on a landing page can go a long way towards creating an experience that feels more personal and less broadly targeted.


Author Bio

Andrew Greissman is a digital content manager for WBR Digital. Andrew’s writing background spans genres and formats from poetry and magazine writing to website copy and press releases. When not writing, Andrew enjoys travel, good food and reading books. 

Photo Credit: Kenneth Lu


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