In the midst of a global phenomenon unlike anything the world has seen, if there was one thing we could all agree on, it would be that uncertainty has become the ‘new norm’.
…and that’s not even throwing Brexit into the mix!
With local shops to entire global industries feeling the economic pinch of the COVID-19 lockdown, knowing what to do, where to turn, who to ask and when to act have become the critical questions of the moment.
So, while navigating this tide of uncertainty, is there anything businesses can do to stay afloat in a world where most traditional mediums of commerce have quite literally run aground?
Well, actually… Yes, there is! Consistent marketing…and an international online presence.
Just as we have witnessed our ‘old-school’ ways of going about business go up in flames, all things ‘online’, have risen from the ashes to refresh the parts ordinary business channels cannot reach.
From eCommerce to digital communications, online learning to Zooming from home, e-services have opened up a huge choice of marketing channels, more than we could have ever imagined.
Where do you start?
So, the first port of call is to ensure your company is ‘internet-compliant’. Here are a few suggestions that should stand you in good stead as we head into the unknown world of post-COVID commerce!
You most likely already have a website. Have you assessed and analysed your ‘shop window’? Whether you have an eCommerce site or a static website, you should consider whether your site ‘talks’ to your customers. With a reduction in international travel and business events, your website and how you trade internationally should be your first port of call.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need to translate your English site?
- Should you add additional languages based on where your clients are?
- Do you need to test certain markets by adding landing pages before you create full language websites?
If you have your own eCommerce platform, should you also provide localised versions of your database? If you have no eCommerce site but are looking to move your physical shop window to an online shop, have you considered channels such as Amazon and eBay as direct sales channels to add to your existing distribution network?
Would third-party marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay be a viable online trading platform for your business?
If you’re not already set up on Amazon or eBay, ALM is working on a “How to guide…” so watch this space.
With the global reach of these market giants at your fingertips, creating a multi-channel online retail platform not only opens new geographical markets but also taps into an entire legion of new-wave mobile and ‘keyboard buyers’, which thanks to our newly adopted social-distancing measures, have seen the single largest change in consumer behaviour since the invention of the Internet. But why just stick to these big players to increase your online presence?
Etsy, Wish, Rakuten, Newegg, Fruugo, Overstock and AliExpress are all highly prized contenders in the online retail world. Have you ever thought of going ‘Global Local’ (looking at what global buyers peruse on their home ‘surf’)?
Once you’ve narrowed down your target markets based on your branding, product appeal, ideal consumer and key potential geographies, test the ‘Local Giant’ alternatives to Amazon and eBay with very little effort from the list below
Don’t forget that global parcel distribution is so cost-effective nowadays – your supply chain couldn’t be simpler!
Cdiscount – France (and over 150 other countries around the world)
Fnac – France, Belgium, Spain and Portugal
Otto – Germany, popular throughout Europe, even in Russia
Real – Germany’s third-biggest online marketplace that ships to 30+ countries
Allegro – Eastern Europe
Bol – Netherlands and Belgium
Coolshop – Scandinavia, Germany, UK and the Netherlands
eMAG – Eastern Europe
Apart from the big global players like Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, store giants Walmart, Target, BestBuy and Sears all offer online retail space for those looking to sell on the US market.
Southeast Asia’s most popular platforms include Lazada and Qoo10.
China’s most popular platform is JD.
Souq is the place to go if you want to hit the Middle East.
Whilst Mercado Libre and Linio are the big players in Latin America.
Don’t ignore the language barrier
Once you have your chosen multi-channel platforms organised, here are the next steps in making sure you’re hitting the new markets with gusto!
- Speak the lingo! – ‘Habla Französisch?’
It goes without saying that if you’re trying to sell your wares or services in overseas markets, you have to market them in the local language. Don’t fall foul of the free translation route such as Google Translate or similar to get your website content translated. It won’t make a good impression and you’ll end up cheapening your brand.
Choose the language(s) you’ll need to connect with your chosen markets and work with a professional translation agency to make your target text sell, the way it sells in your own language.
If you are new to localisation and translation, you might find some of our other How-to guides useful.
There is a host of services and tools at your disposal to help optimise your website and eCommerce platforms, boost your conversion rates, and get the whole setup working for you.
The following list is by no means extensive, but should give you a good start on the road to revival:
- SEO – Keywords, keywords, keywords
Search Engine Optimisation is, without doubt, the single most important tool in making sure your products are found online by the customers who seek them. Get this wrong and you won’t get the visibility you need and your efforts will disappear into the ether. Get it right and your products will score top marks on the search engine scoreboard and make you visible to your target market.
SEO is as important on the international front as it is on the home market. Multilingual SEO is also not something you want to translate, let alone Google translate! Translation does not work for keywords and automated translation is unable to predict human search behaviour patterns. Get it done by a professional multilingual SEO agency. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to have key pages optimised, but the rewards will repay the investment… search after search after search.
ANALYSE AND MAXIMISE
Other tools you can use include:
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console data – They are there to help maximise your online potential, they work, and are relatively easy to use and free!
- Google My Business – Helps boost business on your domestic market by increasing your visibility and collating your online info on Google searches – also free!
- Social Media – Keep in touch with your client base via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Adapt your posts for each platform as they all have a different purpose. Be consistent in your posting, make your audience smile and they’ll remember you.
- Paid Ads (Pay Per Click). You’ll need to set a budget for this as costs can run out of control.
- Email marketing – be mindful not to overburden inboxes, but occasional emails updating your clients of what you are up to will keep you in their minds and hearts.
- What about good old-fashioned mail? There has been a resurgence of marketing campaigns done by traditional means – and also through digital marketing tools such as Mailchimp.
Any of the above can be used to complement your international website and be translated into your customer’s language. Make sure you choose a translation partner who can help you with your online presence in today’s global digital world.
Lastly, good luck! Here’s to travelling a successful road to Covid-19 recovery.