Retailers should not hold out on creating a “Rolls Royce solution” for new international websites, but launch them quickly to immediately start learning, and should not feel like every element must be adapted to the new market, ecommerce experts have warned.
Speaking at the Etail Europe conference held in London last month, Sharon Lowrie, ecommerce director at womenswear chain Hobbs, advised: “Launch something quickly, don’t spend huge amounts of time trying to deliver the Rolls Royce solution as it will change. Deliver a solution that is tailored to the market as much as possible and learn from it.”
River Island’s ecommerce development manager Helen Colclough agreed and said: “You can put a lot of effort into one project and it doesn’t work, then you have to do something different. It’s an iterative process and you’ve got to keep learning.”
She added River Island doubled revenue in the Netherlands the week after adding the local iDeal payment method on April 30, which allows customers to buy online using direct transfers from their bank accounts and is one of the preferred payment methods there.
David Lindsay, senior vice president of technology at indie etail platform Farfetch, urged retailers to research preferences for payment methods and providers in each locality as getting it wrong could create a huge hurdle. For example, Germans prefer to pay cash on delivery while Brazilians like to pay in instalments spread over six months. “You can’t assume consumers want something,” he said. “You need to do a lot of research.”
But Jack Smith, group digital director at New Look, warned against complete localisation of a website when entering a new territory. He said: “I don’t believe in complete localisation, you need to work out where the differences are as otherwise it can be very expensive.”
Footwear retailer Clarks’ head of ecommerce for Europe, Dave Elston, agreed and suggested ecommerce teams should focus on areas that definitely need to be localised, such as content, visual merchandising and the customer proposition, but said “there’s no real benefit in making everything different on each site”.
He said for Clarks “now everything is the same unless there is a really good commercial reason why it should be different”.
Elston stressed it remains important to tailor editorial content to suit individual markets, so when summer arrives earlier in Spain sandals are promoted, while German shoppers will still see content related to more spring-like products.
Lindsay added: “In Japan, Korea and Russia you really need to translate. Content is very important in fashion to declare your stance and to confirm to people that they can shop from you safely. We translated Farfetch into 10 languages and we produce original content for those languages. Korea has been a massive success for us because of the localised content.”