In 2014, the GRIN sat down with three of the top five global e-commerce companies. During our session, we asked all three about the most challenging aspect of taking their businesses to the global level. All three had the same answer:
It may seem counterintuitive to think that “being local” is the toughest part of “going global,” but it’s true. So what do we know about effective models for localization? What really works?
1. Admit you have a problem. That’s right. You have a localization problem, and admitting it is the first step. Most people see the world from a perspective that puts them at the center of it. That’s true for businesses, too. Admitting that you need to change your worldview is the first step on the road to effective localization.
2. Tailor your criteria for global vendors. Throw away the old RFP and procurement process and do some real research into your vendors and their knowledge of local issues and demands. How well are they suited to doing business in the countries where you are expanding? Choosing different vendors for different geographical regions will go a long way toward tackling problems of localization.
3. Develop a global team. Your strategic team should comprise stakeholders throughout your organization and represent all disciplines, effectively breaking down traditional organizational “silos.”
4. Develop a global business model. Your business model for going global should be flexible and iterative. It should also have the advantage of being easily tracked. Our favorite is the Business Model Canvass. Get buy-in from your executive team and be sure to include at least one of the execs in the planning process so that someone is acquainted from the start with the language and methodology you’re using.
5. Be inclusive in your planning. Include outside vendors, merchants and consumers when developing a new model. Devise a set schedule around feedback and goals for the team. Invite them to your offices and go to their offices. Include them in your strategy sessions. Expand your network and ecosystem in the countries where you’ll be doing business.
6. Celebrate local holidays. This is a great way to build your local credentials in whatever country you’re operating. It doesn’t matter what it is, celebrate it and let it be known. Your local employees will appreciate it.
7. Recruit local talent. Start keeping track of the most trusted and knowledgeable people you encounter when doing business in new markets. As the business grows, hire them.
The list could go on, but for now let’s start with the simple seven above. By following the tips in this list, you’ll already have a head start on 95% of global retailers.
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