Image: Laura Qureshi

With global ecommerce markets predicted to reach $4 trillion by 2020, insiders have labelled this skyrocketing global flow of goods the ‘fourth generation’ of ecommerce. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get to know this new generation.

Generational lines

So, what are these ‘generations’ all about? Here’s the breakdown.

Pre-internet, the first generation connected businesses to a network to enable electronic transactions. This was followed by the second generation, which was enabled by the advent of the internet and allowed users to access electronic networks to perform transactions (now known as ‘ecommerce’). The third generation was ushered in by the mobile era and connects users via mobile devices for real-time, on-demand transactions.

The fourth generation of ecommerce takes the on-demand convenience of the mobile era and extends it to global ecommerce markets, breaking down geographic barriers to enable consumers to buy anything they wish, from anywhere in the world.

Why should you care?

Taking your business to the world offers an opportunity for unparalleled growth, opening up a vast untapped market and multiple seasons to capitalise on. It also means you won’t be outstripped by competitors who may be quick to seize the opportunity to establish themselves in desirable international markets, effectively closing the door on your potential growth.

However, expansion is not without its challenges. It can also come with a host of obstacles, such as language barriers, shipping and fulfilment issues, and taxation and legislative requirements.

How can you overcome these challenges?

Start by selecting the appropriate global markets for your business. Complete a market analysis of the countries you are considering: what is the current competition base, expected demand for the product, population demographics, delivery networks, pricing? Once you have selected your target markets, consider specific operational factors such as:

  • Business registration requirements and legislation;
  • taxes and financial requirements;
  • shipping networks and rates;
  • and language or cultural implications.

Create local solutions

Localisation is hands-down the most important element of a successful expansion strategy. Language plays a big part, as expected, but localisation extends beyond simple translation. It is about culture, trust, and consumer behaviour—you need to understand what local customers expect from your brand, and the buying experience in general, to ensure you provide the right online journey.

One of our clients, Cycology, a boutique cycling clothing business based out of Sydney, successfully expanded into four sites across Europe, Asia Pacific, United States and the United Kingdom using the Shopify platform. They understood the value of localisation, and much of their success is down to the hours they put in to researching local markets before launching.

The take-away? Get to know your new customer before trying to sell to them.

Optimise for success

Along with localising all touchpoints for your customer, it is also vital to ensure your technical content is translated and localised. This not only helps with search rankings, but also provides a better user experience. When rolling out the Cycology expansion, we started with the obvious—local domain names—and moved through to keywords, meta-tags and titles.

Bonus tip

Invest in developing mobile applications within your localisation strategy—being available on a range of platforms and devices increases your chances of being accepted in your local market and ensures you remain ahead of the competition.

Are you ready to embrace the next generation?

Laura Qureshi is the director and co-founder of DO Commerce, a full service digital agency specialising in end-to-end digital and ecommerce projects.


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