Localization is increasingly recognized as an essential part of international e-marketing, but it still has a long way to go, a UK study shows.
Any business that takes on a foreign market becomes faced with the challenge of catering to that specific market’s needs and expectations. They quickly realize that simple translation just doesn’t cut it. This is where localization comes in.
Going a step further than translation, localization tailors products and buyer experience to a particular country or region’s geographical situation, cultural references, social and political climate, etc. This involves a variety of factors ranging from choice of currency to payment and delivery methods, and even to the formatting and aesthetics of a website.
The Passport to International Sales, a report published by Internet Retailing and Ingenico ePayments in July 2016, identifies localization as the first step to successful international e-marketing. 150 UK businesses, retailing a range of products from sports nutrition to Ugg boots and bras, were asked about their views regarding the practice. Of the businesses who participated in the study, 69% consider localization vital or important, and those that have invested in it report a subsequent “dramatic difference” in their international sales. As a general rule, greater efforts to localize products and services lead to greater returns.
However, the study also explains that localization is “one of the toughest challenges a retailer faces when looking to expand abroad”. The process is time-consuming and costly and each company must carefully weigh the benefits against the significant human and financial costs it represents. The second takeaway point of the report then comes as no surprise: one third of the interviewed retailers are dissatisfied with their current level of localization. Less than 15% reported being satisfied with their quality of localization and almost 60% judged it merely “fit for purpose”.
However, as international e-marketing becomes increasingly competitive and widespread, these numbers are bound to change. We can expect more and more businesses to start recognizing localization as a worth-while investment, capable of giving them an indispensable competitive edge and significantly boosting their sales abroad. Companies will inevitably start to place more emphasis on localization as a marketing practice and to even adopt business structures and franchise models that prioritize and facilitate its implementation.
It is only a matter of time before what was once only a secret ingredient becomes a widely recognized staple of the international marketing world.