Putting up only an English language store online used to be what e-tailers and international consumers would seemingly accept. In 2013 we definitely saw a tipping point whereby successful global retailers understand now that your E-Commerce website needs to be localized to support each of today’s leading global markets.
I found two very interesting recent studies by yStats GmbH & Co. KG Global B2C E-Commerce Trends Report 2013 and Global Clothing B2C E-Commerce Report 2013 provide a view of where B2C E-Commerce is today and where it will be in the next few years.
Both reports suggest that online shopping is becoming more personalized and e-tailers are taking a multi-channel approach to online sales including leveraging both their own websites and social networks compatible for any device. By 2016 over 500 million of us will be shopping via our mobile devices according to the report. I expect this is a very conservative number. A central component to personalization will be localization to support the marketers overall web presence for their website, online store, and social media pages. Localization needs to be more than just translation. The stakes are rising and savvy marketers will be at the lead to present an offering that truly reflects their understanding of the local markets in which they seek customers.
E-Commerce in Asia
Asia appears to be the big driver for E-Commerce and M-Commerce, but these same trends for growth are expected on each continent.
Looking at Asia, this market will be the largest for E-Commerce this year and will only continue to grow for the foreseeable future. In China they will soon have 2.5 times the number of online shoppers than we have here in the USA. The most popular items shopped for online currently in China are luxury items, such as health & beauty products, clothing and watches. If you are interested in becoming an E-Commerce player in Asia, now is the time to integrate M-Commerce into your plans in China and globally.
Online payments will see triple-digit growth through 2016 globally and will triple the current level in China by 2015. A key driver to make this happen are new systems and payment methods to support E-Commerce and M-Commerce which have become a part of everyday life in China.
E-Commerce in Russia and Brazil
This theme is not unique to only China or Asia. Other countries, such as Brazil and Russia, are each developing more mature markets for online shopping.
Russia has the largest internet connected population in Europe. Payment systems have improved a great deal in recent years to make online shopping a true convenience. Online shopping is becoming widely accepted in the Russian marketplace. A few hurdles remain regarding fulfillment before this market can see the true potential of online shopping, but great strides were made in 2012-2013.
Brazil has a large and growing base of M-Commerce buyers who like to shop using their mobile devices. Mexico is very similar with double digit growth in online shopping planned, particularly via M-Commerce. South Africa is one market not mentioned typically in global reports, but as they now have a high percentage of smartphone users, the expectation is they will have strong percentage increases in their M-Commerce business over the next few years.
E-Commerce shopping preferences – clothing for example
The yStats report brings talks about the acceptance by global consumers of daily deals/group buying. I wondered how daily deals/group buying is received in other markets, as it has become a popular channel here in the USA. The report says that group buying is a factor in worldwide growth for online sales. In fact, they report that in the Middle East group buying/daily deals are quite popular.
In a related yStats report they identify that clothing is the top product worldwide for E-Commerce for consumers. They may eventually buy from either online or from a local store, but they use the internet to research the product. The report provides details for sales globally and offers a breakdown by region and by country. This can be highly useful to clothing marketers looking to expand into new markets.
Europe is a market typically considered to have an appetite for style and is now quite a market for online sales for clothing. In Germany alone billions (EUR) in sales have been transacted in the past year in clothing online. The report goes on to detail a few apparel companies and how they are investing heavily in their European E-Commerce sites.
Eastern Europe is catching up and is becoming accustomed to E-Commerce for clothes shopping. Nearly half of all online shoppers make a purchase in Eastern Europe. Countries mentioned in Eastern Europe as having high growth in this area include Russia, Estonia, Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey. Also, much investment is going into online sites for clothing within these markets.
While clothing does well in the USA, Mexico and Brazil, it is not necessarily the top category sold, but yet still very popular. The same is the case in much of Asia, except in Japan where clothing is the most purchased product category. In China large clothing companies are beginning to invest into this market as the trend is growing for B2C sales of clothing online.
The report also includes mention of the Middle East and South Africa as markets that are getting large investments into offering online stores to support their local markets.
Localization needed to tap into these markets
These yStats reports are very interesting and show that today E-Commerce and M-Commerce are not only widely accepted globally, but the markets are growing with lots of potential. Companies that have already entered these markets are building a loyalty and brand awareness with their customers.
Localization of your website, online store, social media presence and applying Global SEO best practices to all channels will play a central role in acquiring your share in these growing markets around the world.