Developing economies around the world have opened new opportunities for businesses to expand and harness the collective spending power of the growing middle classes in developing countries. The internet as a conduit for business is very effective and offers low cost expansion into foreign markets. With internet use booming in emerging markets, businesses can benefit greatly by concentrating on online expansion.
There are a number of issues that need to be addressed before any expansion plans are rolled out. The central factor determining between success and failure is localization. Marketing has to be adapted for social, cultural and language differences to be successful in foreign markets. The following steps outline the different areas which need to be reviewed and differentiated for the target market:
Choosing a country to expand into should be determined by whether selling a company’s products/services makes commercial sense in the local market. Feasibility of conducting business in a country from a regulatory or logistics perspective must also be considered. Once demand has been proven and supply unrestricted, the deciding factor for the development into a foreign market is how effective it is to scale up operations quickly if the demand proves strong.
If the business is trading wholly online, the chosen market should have a significant online population and share of online expenditure to overall retail or business spending. This data can be compared against other markets that a business already trades within to project market size and earnings potential.
Internet users respond and interact with websites that have country code top-level domains, for example .de. For business purposes, this is crucial in getting local visitors and developing a strong online revenue stream. The website will also perform better in the local search results if it has a country code top-level domain. The introduction of Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) is also noteworthy and companies should look to procuring localized domain names. Early indications are that they are gaining standard use quickly and could become local identifier by consumers.
Translation is the main aspect that makes the difference between success and failure in a foreign market. It is recommended that a translation company with in-country linguists, professional accreditation and relevant experience is employed to conduct website translation. The process of translation can be very extensive and complicated in nature. For this reason it is best to identify which parts of a website’s content are necessary for promoting the products/services and therefore required for translation. If a company uses industry specific terminology, it’s necessary to compile a glossary so that the translation can be technically accurate.
For a business, localization is an on-going process. The numbers of non-English speaking web users continues to grow. China, for instance, added more internet users in the last 3 years than exist in the US. To prepare for the challenges of the online world, businesses will have to embrace localization to succeed.