Jason Simon explains why local knowledge is the key to optimizing an eCommerce marketing strategy

Having regular access to national market information is always a great key to organizing your eCommerce promotional strategy to optimize your results. Jason Simon, a specialist in the eCommerce field, explains in detail how local market knowledge can be a great ally in improving your eCommerce marketing strategy.

As a retailer, you need to adapt your strategy to ensure that you reach your customers wherever they are. Therefore, detailed knowledge of local and regional differences is essential. The best way to get consumers in one country may not necessarily be the same as in another; significantly if online and traditional channel dynamics vary, which the data seems to confirm.

For example, globally, one out of every four US dollars spent on consumer technology goods today is online transactions; however, this is not an example that can be extrapolated globally. The growth of online shopping has even slowed in some markets. The share of eCommerce ranges from zero to more than a third of turnover. The perception of online commerce also varies: from a promotions-driven premium option to a mass-market channel offering well-priced solutions.

“The more detailed information you have on national online sales trends, the better you can plan your marketing activities and evaluate your results,” suggests Simon. “In addition, you will also be able to optimize your launch strategies and select which online and physical retailers to work with to maximize sales.”

Point of Sale (PoS) tracking becomes an invaluable tool that gives you the regional and local information you need to make the right strategic decisions. At the end of the day, it has to be recognized; a one-size-fits-all approach would not be effective.

There are indicators that growth is slowing in countries where online shopping is more mature. Globally, in the first half of 2019, eCommerce grew in turnover by approximately 24% (+1.6 percentage points), a flat dynamic compared to previous years when it was gaining almost three percentage points a year.

However, the global picture masks local nuances. China has led the way in online retail with a share of more than 35% in recent years. In the Chinese market, as in other developed markets, the concepts related to online and traditional retail seem to be more blurred.

For example, eCommerce players have moved from being online-only stores to integrating traditional stores into their ecosystem to reach consumers regardless of channel. Many physical retailers have incorporated eCommerce activities and technology to add digital experiences to the traditional physical store shopping process. Offering a proper omnichannel approach is reinventing the definitions of eCommerce and traditional commerce currently in use.

Other regions are at a much earlier stage of online retail evolution, such as the Middle East/Africa and emerging Asia (excluding China). In these contexts, online sales are 5% compared to China’s share of turnover.

“eCommerce prices reflect socio-economic developments in a region,” notes Simon. “The image that online retailers project in different markets depends not only on the mix of products they offer or their price but is also influenced by the socio-economic situation of the market and the level of adoption of online shopping.”

In some markets, it is primarily affluent consumers who have access to online shopping. Retailers have responded to this by offering premium items. This is the case in Brazil, where online retail offers a range of premium products and generates high average prices. Thanks to online promotions, consumers buy premium product segments at an attractive price that is reflected in an above-average price index of almost 140% compared to the total market encompassing online sales.

While growing global sales may be the ultimate goal of an eCommerce promotional strategy, achieving it successfully depends on taking local nuances into account. Language is the obvious difference; local holidays and events or culturally specific aspects of communication are also factors that are unlikely to be taken into account a priori for local markets. But as the data show, this goes beyond that.

Although eCommerce conveys a “globalized” character by nature, customer experience and behavior are and will always be local, and promotions must be adapted accordingly. Information regarding where a region may be in the evolution of online retailing, the socio-economic situation of the local market, or where customers are in their buying process is essential to optimize the execution of local campaigns.

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