A while back, we set out a company strategy that aimed to leverage our time on the market and our unmatched relationships with people across the whole spectrum of eCommerce. As open-source has always been in our DNA, we resolved to share as much knowledge and insight as we possibly can, because we believe that eCommerce has the power to change the world for the better.
Earlier this year, we published the Microservices Architecture for eCommerce as a collaborative, always-accessible resource. Now, we are following it up with a book that gives you the background, checklists, technology tips, and everything else you need for a successful global rollout, as you take your store into new territories.
Getting ready for an eCommerce platform global rollout
Entering a new market is a step that allows manufacturers, suppliers, and other sellers to expand the sales spectrum of their products from a specific local market to the wider world. It is the ultimate scaling up period that opens up new sales potential with each new market.
The right kind of rollout can bring immediate success to an eCommerce platform entering new markets. However, getting it right as you take your store global and have to adapt to each unique technical and business environment can be a tightrope walk. There are numerous places where you may fall but we’ve put this article together to present areas that must be analyzed beforehand in order to design and develop an eCommerce platform ready for global rollouts.
Rollouts are the next great step in your business plan and can be a matter of growing or dying. Good preparation is the first defense you have against failure as you go global.
<< Read how Lovi used Pimcore during a global rollout to set up multiple features and modules which were launched according to a given market’s maturity and brand recognition. >>
Six areas to analyze before a global eCommerce rollout
When we speak about rollouts from a technical point of view, we are really just referring to the moment when an eCommerce platform goes live on a new market. However, that push of the button is at the end of the process. A global rollout impacts multiple areas of the organization, each of which needs to be carefully considered before you build:
1. Market specifics
Each market has its own specifics (such as legal restrictions, the preferences of end customers, and habits regarding the use of tools related to eCommerce like payment systems) which must be checked before designing an eCommerce solution for a global rollout. Payment systems, for example, have differing popularity among customers in each country: PayPal is popular in Germany; cashless methods like Swish or QR codes are ubiquitous in Scandinavian or Asian countries; and the US is still strongly attached to card payments. It is worth asking some basic questions about each individual country you enter so that you can avoid nasty surprises and make sure that the rollout to a new territory will be profitable for business:
- Are there any customs restrictions that may stop us sending goods to a country?
- Are there legal restrictions regarding the products or services we offer?
- What tax do customers have to pay on the goods they buy?
- What devices do buyers prefer to use? Mobile or desktop?
- Which payment method is most popular?
- What delivery options are available and which do customers prefer?
2. Competitive landscape
Examining competing companies and products should be an integral part of developing a business strategy of cross-border eCommerce. Observing competitors and following an analysis roadmap gives powerful insights into techniques already used on the market and into indicators like product price, quality or availability which can help differentiate a newly introduced brand or product on the market.
Inhouse team’s potential
Providing specific services on a given market is possible only with an experienced team within the company. The inhouse team must first learn the potential of new markets (identify the most effective ways of development), then plan and run the rollout, and finally handle the needs of new clients. This could be reflected in delivery efficiency and time, integrations with local payment methods, or even in being able to communicate fluently with the new customers.
To sell in the new markets, you must have an eCommerce system that is able to handle the sales process in a given market but is also flexible enough to adjust to the specifics of other markets and ensure an effective implementation process in the next steps of a global rollout. A short time to market is key here.
Most popular eCommerce platforms offer basic support tools for launching on multiple markets, e.g. multistore (multiple domains), various languages, multi-currency, but each of them has its own specificity. Some of the eCommerce platforms might not support the payment methods or delivery methods popular in a given market. In these and similar cases, it will be necessary to develop a non-standard platform or integration, which can significantly extend the cost and time needed to enter other markets.
Implementing an eCommerce site on a new market concerns more than just sales processes, which should be followed with seamless order management and delivery services. For some of the target groups, the delivery time and cost may be a critical condition that impacts purchasing decisions.
Think about companies with well-developed warehouse infrastructure in Europe and plans to begin a sales process in the USA. As a result of entering a market on a new continent and needing to ensure a short delivery time, the company might need to open local warehouses in the US or establish cooperation with a local delivery provider.
Internal processes and tools
When considering a global rollout, it is also necessary to audit existing processes and tools within the company. Ask about systems supporting product management processes (e.g. PIM systems), fiscalisation (e.g. ERP / SAP systems), or customer relations (e.g. CRM systems, loyalty solutions). Do these systems meet the requirements of a given market? Do they allow for effective integration with other eCommerce systems or solutions?
A good example is product-related information and content. If we currently present our products in English and are planning to enter a market where English is not the first language, we must be sure to provide effective translations (which strongly impact conversion rates) of any product information into the local language, as well as adjusting our store to the local fiscal system and other legal requirements of the given market (e.g. taxes, returns, etc.).
The real-life case study of a global eCommerce rollout
In the past months, we’ve been working on the global rollout of the Senetic eCommerce platform. The company, which specializes in IT software and consultancy services, was getting ready to launch its products and services in a total of 150 countries.
When Senetic started planning its expansion and gaining the trust of global clients, they already had a dedicated eCommerce platform. Unfortunately, it didn’t allow for rapid scaling and an effective sales process in the new markets. Selecting a new eCommerce platform became a priority and a major challenge for Senetic. Their new selling platform had to have a universal and repeatable base, multi-store features, and a wide range of ready-to-use modules. What’s more, it had to be able to scale up to over 150 stores.
After running tests and proofs of concept, Senetic decided to use Magento 2 Commerce as their base. We described the full process of designing this eCommerce platform in a case study.
Senetic identified the following steps while preparing a flexible and reliable eCommerce platform for a global rollout:
- Running an analysis of planned markets and grouping rollouts by countries with similar business environments, client expectations, and logistics capacities
- First rolling out in the US, where they had the most comprehensive market knowledge, and using this experience to learn about their new eCommerce platform
- Looking for integrations with existing systems
- Investing in training their teams to adapt to local languages and cultures
The importance of the right eCommerce tools for global rollout
As the business reasons and the local market conditions will always vary, the key to every eCommerce rollout lies in the proper selection of software and tools.
In the case of Senetic, it was Magento 2 Commerce. Lovi based theirs on Pimcore CMS. In every business, this solution will be different, but no matter what, the eCommerce platform for global rollouts must be a piece of software that answers to the business specifics, enables effective management tools for the team, integrates with existing IT infrastructure and allows for flexible changes and adjustments. Only with such a toolset will companies be able to offer their products on new markets in a short time and in accordance with the given market’s needs.
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If you want to prepare your eCommerce for a global rollout, you can reach out to us directly and speak to our experts who do help companies go global on a daily basis.
Published July 17, 2020