How local is your global ecommerce strategy?

    January 15, 2024
    How local is your global ecommerce strategy?

    Food is global; taste is local.

    It’s a well-worn phrase that encapsulates the tension which can exist between global strategies and the unique requirements of local markets.

    Global KPIs are, of course, essential for steering multinational organizations at a high level, but localization is critical.

    Online retail is no exception. Ecommerce is global; true ecommerce success requires smart local adaptation. The most successful CPGs we work with today are those that drive excellence through clear global priorities – but with a decidedly local edge.

    Here are some practical steps brands can take to ensure their global ecommerce strategy delivers for local markets, and vice versa.

    Clear communication is key

    It always starts with communication and awareness.

    In our experience, 85-90% of global ecommerce targets and KPIs will work across markets, but 10-15% won’t be applicable across the board. It’s important global decision-makers understand what that 10-15% looks like.

    Ratings and reviews are a good example. Marketing departments love consumer feedback and often set global KPIs for it, but in some markets – central and South America come to mind – eRetailers and ecommerce operators simply don’t have that capability on their sites.

    ‘Multistore location’ is another area where global ambitions and local realities might clash.

    In the US, ‘multistore location’ is huge – it’s why, at e.fundamentals, the digital shelf platform by CommerceIQ, we gather data from 313 Walmart stores, 50 Targets, 19 Krogers, and several other multilocation accounts.

    Elsewhere in the world, however, single-store scrapes and gathers are far more uncommon. US-based global entities are sometimes surprised to find their global reporting requirement for multi-location data may not be viable.

    We encourage our local market clients to make sure there’s clear communication back to the global organization, and support them in spelling out key points of difference. It can be as simple as saying: ‘Hey, just so you know, the eRetailers and ecommerce businesses in those markets do not gather this measurement, so you will get a null on this score.’

    Don’t assume any of this will be obvious to your global or local counterparts. As clichéd as it sounds, it’s better to over-communicate than under-communicate in this situation.

    Check nothing has been lost in translation

    Language and cultural barriers can derail even the smartest global ecommerce strategy.

    When you work across EMEA, APAC, and the Americas, you’d be surprised how many different interpretations you can get for seemingly straightforward metrics and KPIs.

    So, whenever our clients have a global requirement, we spend a lot of time making sure nothing has been lost in translation. We want to get a crystal-clear understanding of what that measurement is, how it’s being looked at, and how global teams plan to use it.

    Real-life examples make a huge difference in this context, and it’s great to see that CPGs are becoming much better about providing these. Image standards in particular are something that can be clearly demonstrated, reducing the risk of misunderstandings.

    The majority of CPG and ecommerce professionals around the world are smart, committed people who want to do a good job. Nine times out of ten, failures to implement global ecommerce requirements correctly happen simply because someone on the local team didn’t understand that requirement completely. Luckily, with a bit of foresight, that’s easily avoided.

    We also encourage our CPG clients to pay close attention to where certain markets are in their ecommerce journey, and adapt accordingly. Sophisticated global requirements set by individuals operating in more advanced markets could overwhelm those who are still figuring out the basics.

    Don’t lose sight of common ground

    When localizing a global ecommerce strategy, it’s tempting to spend all your time worrying about differences. But 85-90% of global requirements will, in fact, work perfectly fine locally. It’s important to not lose sight of that.

    We often say to clients, “Let’s take a ‘glass half full’ approach and find all the places where we can absolutely deliver back on how that measurement is being requested”.

    Once local teams have gone through their global requirements and identified all the points where there’s already agreement, they may find they need to do much less adaptation than feared.

    By establishing common ground early, local teams can also focus their energy on those few areas where differences do exist and develop appropriate local adaptations.

    Small local actions create big global successes

    We often talk about the importance of fixing the basics and getting the fundamentals right, and this is just as relevant in a global vs local context.

    Occasionally, individuals become so obsessed with the idea of ‘Are we hitting the global number?’ that they forget about the small, day-to-day actions that go into building that number.

    But if you’re not updating your images, you’ve taken your eye off the ball on content, your search terms aren’t right, or your allergen information is out of date, you are not going to drive global ecommerce growth. It’s those small, underlying actions that make all the difference.

    It’s fine for global VPs to look at topline figures on scorecards, but local account managers and ecommerce managers need to be focused on the detail – and on satisfying their local consumers and the accounts they’re servicing.

    As important as the needs and desires of the global organization are, the foundations of global ecommerce success are ultimately laid at the local level.


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