[Infographic] The relationship between language and competitive advantage in ecommerce

The relationship between language and competitive advantageRetailers have several options when looking to grow their business. Of all the ways to expand, one thing is certain: big retailers are big because they use their resources and capabilities to gain foreign market share.

The big truth about big retail

EBay and Amazon allow you to be a global retailer without being a global corporation, but big companies maintain advantages over smaller players in two ways. First, they market their products in different countries and different languages. Second, economies of scale give them a pricing advantage over smaller sellers.

Byte Level Research recently released their ninth annual “Web Globalization Report Card” highlighting four retailers that are dominating global markets (2013). These retailers have increased the number of supported languages on their websites as part of their growth strategy:

-Symantec: 7 languages in 2007 to 27 languages today
-Starbucks: 11 languages in 2007 to 22 languages today
-Nikon: 21 languages in 2008 to 39 languages today
-Volkswagen: 31 languages in 2008 to 39 languages today.

The logic is simple.
More supported languages means more sales.
More sales means higher inventory turnover.
Higher turnover means the ability to procure inventory at a discount, which gives you the option to keep prices the same and widen your margins, or hold your margins, lower your prices and undercut the competition.

Obstacles for eBay and Amazon sellers

More supported languages means the same for the big guys as it does for you. But often, the obstacles for international expansion are daunting. For eBay and Amazon sellers, you must consider how to:

-Create product listings in foreign languages
-List products directly to foreign marketplaces
-Optimize listings to rank high in foreign search results
-Communicate with buyers in foreign languages
-Synchronise stock levels across different marketplaces
-Monitor sales data in different countries
-Scale product offerings according to country-specific data

Opportunity for eBay and Amazon sellers

Look at the eBay marketplaces in the UK and Europe (Neilson 2012, Forrester 2012) Forecasted growth is projected over four years.

eBay.co.uk (UK)
Visitors per month: > 17 million
Market potential: €34.5 billion (£30.2 billion)
Forecasted growth: 11%

eBay.de (Germany)
Visitors per month: > 21 million
Market potential: €22.9 billion
Forecasted growth: 12%

eBay.fr (France)
Visitors per month: > 9 million
Market potential: €14.5 billion
Forecasted growth: 18%

eBay.it (Italy)
Visitors per month: >10 million
Market potential: €3.3 billion
Forecasted growth: 18%

eBay.es (Spain)
Visitors per month: > 4.5 million
Market potential: €3.4 billion
Forecasted growth: 18%

Every marketplace in the region is growing. Look at your sales statistics. Would your business benefit from this traffic? Are you positioned to take advantage of this growth?

Getting your products listed in foreign languages and marketplaces is the next step in gaining foreign market share, increasing sales, and benefiting from economies of scale. Third-party localisation service providers like Webinterpret specialise in translating and adapting your product listings to foreign eBay and Amazon sites. Make sure your service provider can help you overcome the obstacles mentioned above and guide you to becoming a competitive global retailer.

1. Byte Level Research. “The 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.” http://bytelevel.com/reportcard2013/ReportCard2013_sample.pdf
2. The Nielson Company. “Nielsen NetRatings.” December 2012.
3. Forrester Research Inc. “Online Retail Forecast, 2011-2016” February 2012.

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