8 internationalisation insights from top UK retailers

20 Oct 2016

8 internationalisation insights from top UK retailers

We recently hosted our second internationalisation-themed dinner of the year, with a group of digital leaders from the UK’s top ecommerce retailers, to discuss their roadmaps for cross-border success.

With attendees from diverse brands including Whistles, New Look, Farfetch, Etsy, Mountain Warehouse and MedicAnimal, everything from the value of marketplaces to localising for luxury was on the table for discussion.

Here’s a recap of some of the most valuable takeaways from the evening.

On localisation priorities:


  1. Put the customer first with a ‘bottom-up’ approach

“Some retailers start with “top down” localisation, which doesn’t always work out. It can mean your customers deal in English at checkout, which can lose people’s trust. If you swapped to a ‘bottom up’ approach beginning with checkout and FAQs, it can work out much better.”

On using content to drive revenue in target markets:


  1. Don’t overlook subtle language variations

“A localised product offering can really promote revenue. Even markets you might assume are similar, such as the UK and US, have a different emphasis – you have to change the content to tap into the market, and especially when it comes to email campaigns and marketing.”

  1. Consider seasonal idiosyncrasies

“Localising descriptions is often culturally relative, and not simply one language to another, so you need to consider timings. Take Christmas shoppers in the UK – these customers tend to like heavy description, and this promotes sales. But in France, Christmas shoppers aren’t as enthused by this, and it doesn’t actively increase or help sales.”

On the pros and cons of marketplaces:


  1. The cons:

“Brands can tackle the global market by taking the leap from organic to marketplace. But the challenge with marketplaces is: do your customers actually care who is fulfilling the order? Arguably, the customer loses their connection with you and they don’t see you as a brand or company – you can become a glorified warehouse!”

  1. The pros:

“We use marketplaces a lot, because it’s a price market with a lot of customers actively engaged. We don’t provide content to the marketplaces and there is no proper localisation of our content. Marketplaces have a bad reputation, but they’re not bad – they help to establish you in new markets and you can use them as a marketing vehicle.”

On localising for luxury:


  1. High-value items need to come wrapped up in a localised narrative

“Content is important! Certain products (particularly luxury, bespoke and handmade) have stories. These products aren’t commoditised, they’re individual, and you have to sell the story in order to sell the product – in every language.”

“The more emotional [the connection with the product], the more localised the content needs to be. That’s why content is a huge focus in luxury, as it’s an emotional purchase – the customer is parting with a significant amount of money, and they have to believe in the value of the story and the emotion behind it.”

  1. Localised PPC: not necessary for high-profile branded goods?

“Luxury brands and global branded products get a high volume of English language searches in all markets, regardless of local language. Invest in Google AdWords and consider keeping it in English, except for some places like Japan for example, which gets a high volume of keyword searches in local language – and therefore generates lots of traffic. Content [for luxury] is the hardest bit.”

On the benefits of outsourcing:


  1. Outsourcing can solve the pains of maintaining quality at scale

“We used Quill, who helped with localised and translated content for SEO purposes. Quill delivered speed and quality, and it had a massive impact on SEO. We even have separate English language content for the English speaking sites (Australia, UK, US, Canada, etc.). Everything is unique, and Quill produced all 200,000 product descriptions for all sites. The pain they solved for us was speed and quality control, as we wouldn’t have had a team of native editors to check quality as quickly as Quill could do it.”

Lauren Johnson-Ginn @ Quill ContentHead of Marketing Communications at Quill, passionate about all things content and digital.

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