Depending on the viewpoint of your favorite economist, the recession may be over. But retail growth is far from buoyant in many markets. The UK retail sector shows healthy signs of recovery, while US consumers seem be less confident. There are numerable success stories; John Lewis passed the 1bn online revenue mark this year, while Macys is in its fifth year of double-digit online growth, in spite of a slightly shaky offline performance. But as an eBusiness leader, no matter what your local market conditions, I'm willing to bet one thing.
Your growth targets haven't gone down.
For many years, growing online revenues has been a core strategy for most B2C firms, and many B2B firms are also riding the eCommerce wave. But as markets become crowded and competition becomes tighter, globalization is an increasingly attractive option for eBusiness professionals. With southern European markets seeing online growth rates in the high teens and even bigger opportunities like Russia and China on the global horizon, it's no surprise that an international strategy is high on the agenda for many eBusiness leaders.
But going global is complex.
It's naive to assume that what works in your home market will automatically translate to an international audience. But it's also an over-statement of the complexity you face to assume that every market is completely unique. The primary motivators of online shopping - price, convenience and choice - don't really change globally. Language, culture, currency, payment methods, screen lay-out, device use and many other factors vary radically. Knowing what to localize and what to standardize is tricky.
Team members with local knowledge are invaluable.
But how do you recruit and retain a global team? Do you follow a model like Asos, and initially recruit natives of target expansion countries like France and Germany into your London headquarters as you scale to the tipping point which demands you open a local office? What if you have existing offline distribution through stores, or maybe wholesale partners? Which functions should sit locally and which should you retain in a global team?
In the latest release in our eCommerce Globalization Playbook, Globalize Your eBusiness Organization Structure, we examine the best practices and frameworks used by leading firms as they scale their eCommerce ambitions globally. We present three options for growth - centralized, distributed and shared service organization models - and cover the pros and cons of each to help you structure your approach to taking your digital presence to new, exotic destinations.
Going global can be tricky, but can you afford not to?
Martin Gill, VP, pricipal analyst at Forrester Research serves eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals.