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In our previous two blogs on localisation we explained the need to effectively localising your web shop and how effectively adapting e.g. your site, your customer services and your lead generation will require a Local Hero, i.e. someone locally to advise and support you with expert knowledge and effective local resources.
I promised to explain where you find local resources like this and provide some tips on how best to work with them to get the results you want.
Firstly of all, how to you find the right partner(s) to work with? You probably know a few already. Your local courier or payment provider will most likely have explained to you that they can provide similar services in other countries. If you like more names and ideas go to one of the eCommerce or eRetail exhibitions in your target country. The more advanced ones will also have a website set up to be found by using English key words, so try e.g. fulfilment France, payment service provider Denmark. Our own company Salesupply offer a full range of cross border services (ranging from market assessment, webshop localisation, customer service, return management and marketing lead generation) through our teams of local eRetail experts in 20 countries in Europe, China and the USA.
On working with these partners to achieve your optimal results I have some suggestions.
Consider how many local partners you want to deal with and for what. Do you want to work with different partners for distribution, payment, customer service, marketing, VAT/Tax etc in all of your target countries? That is not a good idea. Consider the management time and complexity you add and the impact that will have on you personally and your organisation. Say 5 countries and 3 different providers in each country – you can do the calculations and the ensuing head ache is clear. Would it not be ideal if you could work with only 2 or 3 partners for all the countries you are interested in? Choose your target countries and find providers that can help you in all those – DHL, Ingenico etc are just examples for logistics and payment solutions. Salesupply offers website localisation, customer services, marketing, return management, VAT and any other local solution in 20 countries and is unique in that sense.
Consider how you would work with them. You will have to find a way together to take on board their advice and seamlessly embed their services. Who is going to be the contact point in your organisation, etc. What are the responsibilities, handover points, info/technical connection, performance metrics, etc etc. Since your local partner has experience in this ask him/her also.
Ensure the partner you choose provides scalable solutions – do not buy full time seats, if in fact you do only expect 20 calls per day. Understand your partners business model – can they scale up AND down quickly and economically for you to support you in a country. Crucially, make sure that you can use the same solutions and processes in all countries you would consider going to – you want one way of working, one way of interfacing, one account manager.
Ensure your partner understands and supports you at least as good as an internal team would do – in fact they should become your surrogate customer service, logistics, marketing team.
Think and act win-win. This sounds simple, but how many of us working with partners and suppliers really understand the business model, objectives, expectations of the other party? Really? And have you documented some of these key points in your business relationship? Do you have simple but effective incentives and agreements in place to work together to achieve 1 + 1 adding up to 3? If all is well your partner of choice will have some experience in this that he/she would be keen to share.
So, you need local expertise to be successful in cross border ecommerce. This is the LOCAL component. Unless you have the money and are willing to take the risk to set up your own team in each new country, you will need local advice and support from a local partner. After tasting success in one new market you would like more, so you need a GLOBAL solution. To keep this manageable and cost efficient our recommendation is to work with one or a small set of partners that can work with you in all of your target countries. In discussion with your partner(s) develop your model for distribution, payment, customer service, marketing etc. After you have determined how you are going to manage your partners you have the back bone of a GLOCAL solution. GLOCAL will allow you to reap the crucial benefits of a web shop that feels local to shoppers in each country but that you manage effectively across many.