From eCommerce Futures – Localization is the Key to a Brand’s International Success

Robert Miggins, Peer 1 Hosting

One of the biggest themes that surfaced during our eCommerce Futures event in NYC yesterday was that localization is key to an international brand strategy. The event, International Fashion: How to Succeed in New Markets, had an A-list speaker lineup, including Lindsay Clifford-Smith, Global Head of eCommerce, Jimmy Choo; Ari Hoffman, CEO, Benetton USA; Tony Stockil, CEO, Javelin Group; Graham Cooke, Founder, Qubit; Chris Jones, Consultant Global Director of eCommerce; Greg Segall, President, One Pica; and Liza Kindred, Founder, Third Wave Fashion. Localization came up in almost each of their presentations or discussions, yet in different capacities and with varying, unique examples.

Localizing seems like a given, but there’s a lot of thought and nuances that go into it to make it successful. Here are some of the pointers we gathered from the expert panelists:

  • According to Lindsay at Jimmy Choo, you have to commit to it across all channels and all markets. “There’s no halfway house” when it comes to localization, she says. The channel – whether it’s the market or technology like Facebook or Twitter – informs what you should talk about, and the message needs to be localized, yet with a consistent brand. For example, in Japan, if Jimmy Choo sells something studded or with gems, it flies. Localizing the language, and having all product information, PR, marketing and Web materials created by someone who knows the brand, but is also local, is paramount.
  • Leveraging local third parties was also a popular tip for boosting your localization strategy. This goes hand-in-hand with leveraging people that understand the local market, but provides brands a way to ease into the market without having someone full time on staff. Ari from Benetton said that the company has various third-parties that support them in this capacity.
  • Tony from Javelin Group stressed the importance of having a localization plan. First, a company has to think about if they are truly ready to expand internationally. Does it have the right market focus, brand, offer and financial resources for it? Second, where does it go? Lastly, what business models will it use to progress in the new markets? As part of the plan, Tony said brands also have to think about product and pricing, fulfillment, website and merchandising, and customer service. Tony discussed as a brand that has successfully used a localization plan to expand internationally. The company knows exactly who their customer is – the 22-year-old office worker that’s into fashion – and when considering moving into new markets, it thinks, where can I identify this woman? Last year ASOS grew by 40%.

These are just a few of the great tips provided during the event. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us at 1.888.979.2740, and we’d be happy to put you in touch with one of the panelists or an eCommerce executive at Peer 1.