4 Things to Consider Before Internationalizing your B2B eCommerce Strategy

February 10, 2015

Thomas Friedman said that “we are entering an era of creative destruction on steroids.” Since the world has become a flat playing field, all competitors have an equal opportunity.

As online eCommerce grows, global expansion and internationalization are becoming top priorities. But before jumping in, there’s a lot to consider and plan for to prepare your business for the expansion.

When deciding whether or not your organization is ready to internationalize, be sure and consider these 4 questions:

1. What are your goals and priorities?

Clearly defining your goals and priorities is important for any growth or expansion project within your organization. Be sure that everyone on your eCommerce team is on the same page as far as your goals go – from the marketing team to your IT resources. Goals around global expansion often including:

  • Creating brand awareness and harnessing market insight
  • Supporting an omni-channel sales system / enhancing their brick and mortar presence
  • Driving brand consistency

2. Where will you go? Which regions and markets present the best opportunity for your business?

When deciding where to grow your business, there’s a lot to consider. Which countries or regions will be a good investment? Which countries or regions offer the best opportunity as far as the products or services you sell? A 2013 Global Retail eCommerce Index scored China, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea as the top 5 candidates for global investment, based on a combination of factors including online market size, consumer behavior, growth potential and infrastructure. The top candidates for global investment might be the best places for your organization to go, or you might be interested in the underdogs – it all depends on your strategy.

3.  Do you have the right resources in place?

It’s important to decide who from your organization will be handling the Internationalization process before getting started. Make sure you account for workflow across sites for all of the following:

  1. Multi-lingual, Multi-cultural knowledge: Things like language and cultural knowledge are important, especially when you consider things like customer service and communication. Who will answer calls for orders being processed in your new locations around the world? Who will be able to communicate to the new users about releases or new sales materials in multiple languages?
  2. Logistics and Fulfillment operations: You’ll want to weigh whether it makes sense to set up warehousing facilities in the new region, or just ship things internationally. Sometimes cross-border shipping can take weeks. But maintenance, management, and staffing of an international warehouse can be very costly.

4.  What questions should I ask when selecting an eCommerce solution that will support my plans for Global Expansion and Internationalization?

  1. Does the current eCommerce Platform support global delivery and hosting? What about localization?
  2. Can existing catalog and product content be easily translated on the site?
  3. How will the current platform handle multiple currencies and country-specific pricing?