Developing a Globalization Strategy for Etail

shutterstock_50695516Internet retail can be tricky when selling to global consumers. There are many factors to consider when developing your international eCommerce site.

Building a globalization strategy is the most important step. In his recent report, “The Leading Global Retailers (And Why): Web Globalization Benchmarks and Best Practices,” John Yunker discusses multiple best practices for getting the most out of your site and different steps to make sure your web operations are comprehensive to multiple markets. These include: the four elements of global navigation, local and operational adjustments and global outsourcing.


Elements of Global Website Navigation

When multilingual visitors approach your site, they’re going to need to know where to go. Global gateways, country codes, geolocation and language negotiation are tools to help them do just that.

A global gateway, or language selection map, should be visible, translated and in the same location on each page. Its purpose is to provide convenience and ease for the customer, not confusion. Each language selection should be translated appropriately so that all users can access your information, no matter what language the landing page is in. This tool is the most fundamental aspect of your global marketing operations.

Country codes are local “front doors,” allowing users to skip the global gateway step by entering in a provided country specific domain name, i.e.

Geolocation and language negotiation help improve navigation functions by determining the location of the user, as well as the language preferences on their browser or mobile device.

These four navigation tools help provide an invisible transition between various browsers and devices to make the site user friendly across the board.

The Social Media Step

Social media is an important aspect when utilizing global marketing services. It’s important that these sites are also translated and culturally relevant, but make sure to think beyond Facebook and Twitter.

Although these two networks have high international popularity, some countries have adopted their own social sites. Examples include QZone and Weibo in China and VKontakte in Russia.

Localizing for Detail

When developing content on multilingual pages, take into account cultural details such as numbers and holidays.

In western countries, consumer prices usually include the number nine. But in Asian cultures, eight is a favorable number. Using eight when pricing for these markets is common practice.

Conversely, some numbers are considered unfavorable, namely 13 in the U.S. and four in Asia.

Timing is very important when catering to global ecommerce. Make sure you’re hitting the mark on country-specific holidays and the days on which they occur. Valentine’s Day is a growing across the globe, but it goes by various names and occurs during different times of the year.

Operational Aspects

There are a few things to do to make sure your site runs smoothly.

Don’t over translate. Few companies have the budget to adjust every aspect of their site with web translation. Make sure the most important information is available in your target languages and then go from there.

Avoid flash and keep sites light. Some operating systems don’t support flash and it can easily be matched with HTML content. Set a weight limit with content so that users without high-speed connections can access the site just as easily from mobile devices.

Make Your Job Easier

Many global challenges occur outside of your website. These include: multichannel management, promotions, shipping and address verification and currency conversion. High upfront costs come with addressing these challenges yourself.

Outsourcing is a good option for many companies who need a hand getting their products out globally. Shipwire, Digital River and FiftyOne are all companies that provide global commerce support.


Creating an effective multilingual site is possible when you’re taking the right steps. Gain insight into how leading global Internet retailers are getting the most out of their websites by downloading our free report, The Leading Global Retailers (And Why): Web Globalization Benchmarks and Best Practices.

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