Multiregional eCommerce: Secrets for Ultimate Online Success
According to FXC intelligence report, global B2B ecommerce transactions are going to outgrow all the other payment categories by 2030, showing a 21% growth compared to 2021. Sounds like a good chance to skyrocket your sales, doesn't it? Though expanding your ecommerce store to overseas markets might seem challenging, it brings in its obvious advantages: you’ll reach a broader customer base, increase sales and revenue, and boost brand awareness across markets. While most businesses search for the correct methods of how to save on launching your own multiregional ecommerce, we will provide some secrets on where to start if you want to move abroad.
In this article, we will discuss how to launch an ecommerce project in global markets and put a particular emphasis on the multilingual and multiregional aspects of such a journey, and how Virto B2B ecommerce platform can contribute to your cross-border ecommerce journey. Read on to see what to do first.
- UNDERSTANDING MULTIREGIONAL AND MULTILINGUAL ECOMMERCE
- DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MULTIREGIONAL AND MULTILINGUAL SITES
- MULTILINGUAL APPLICATIONS IN ECOMMERCE
- CREATING A MULTILINGUAL ECOMMERCE WEBSITE
- TIPS FOR LAUNCHING MULTILINGUAL ECOMMERCE SITE
- HOW VIRTO COMMERCE CAN ENHANCE YOUR MULTILINGUAL ECOMMERCE PROJECT
- GOOD EXAMPLES OF MULTILINGUAL SUCCESS STORIES
Understanding Multiregional and Multilingual eCommerce
First of all, it is important to understand that multiregional ecommerce is a multilayer sales model. It is the whole business tailored to work in sometimes completely different regions with non-similar regulations, languages, currencies, and more.
Moving to another region requires compliance with all these requirements, and languages and localization are important parts of the business. Multilingual ecommerce implies having several different websites for each region, each of them — localized and deeply tailored culturally to the customers of a particular country. Obviously, the language is the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, an opportunity to create multilingual websites is only a piece of a huge multiregional approach to your new business. Let’s look deeper into what the difference is.
Difference Between Multiregional and Multilingual Sites
The terms multiregional and multilingual are often used interchangeably; however, as we explained, they mean completely different things: the multiregional approach is deeper than just translating your website.
The multiregional approach includes the following:
- Your website should be localized: it should offer the native language, native currency, and specific cultural nuances (for example, selling in Arabic countries is not the same as selling in the USA). Sometimes, you have to change colors and ad personas; sometimes, it requires rebuilding the website completely. For example, when selling to Arabic or Hebrew countries, you must write from right to left — and each form on your multilingual ecommerce website should support it.
- Different countries have different laws and regulations, and everything that happens on your website, from wording to customer data processing, should comply with them.
- Tax requirements are not the same in different regions — always remember about it when setting your payment options, choosing which documents to sign, and more. Some companies suddenly fail to comply with tax laws at the end of the year just because they accidentally build their selling website in the wrong way.
- Business practices differ as well. Some countries require approvals and additional control from the government or other organizations; others offer free sales.
It’s possible for a single website to be both multiregional and multilingual. One example of such a website is Amazon, which has unique URLs for different countries, while also offering translations into multiple languages to best meet buyer needs.
Multiregional website requirements
Multilingual Applications in eCommerce
Complying with all these requirements can definitely bring businesses to success. To reach all the business goals faster, companies must create multilingual applications and websites. First, let’s discuss some applications top market leaders have built and how they help in moving to new regions. So, what is multilingual application, and how are they helpful for ecommerce?
Multilingual apps help expand global reach and provide ecommerce businesses with a competitive edge. While it signals a commitment to serving a diverse customer base, this is a great way to give new customers great CX and achieve a higher loyalty rate than the competitors do.
Good examples of companies using multilingual B2B ecommerce apps are Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay. Whatever country users are in, they can use a localized application with their native language, currency, and cultural details.
What are the advantages of multilingual websites? Here is what companies can get with the correctly localized applications:
- Multilingual applications make new goods and services accessible to a broader audience, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates.
- When customers can shop in their native language, it fosters trust and confidence in the brand. Such customers are more likely to buy from the same brand in the future.
- By adapting content and marketing strategies to specific regions, companies increase sales. For instance, offering local holiday promotions or using some region-specific facts.
Creating a Multilingual eCommerce Website
So now it's time to ask: how do I create a multilingual ecommerce site to prosper?
All the requirements listed above can be easily reached with the correctly chosen software. It is important to say that most of the software solutions do not offer multiregional capabilities.
For example, when using SAP, you can only build several separate instances of your B2B multilingual ecommerce solution and place them in different countries; connecting them all together will be another challenging task. Usually, it results in building several separate businesses in other countries, with all the spending under each business needs.
Another option is to build new region solutions over your existing solution, trying to centralize it. When the company grows and develops, it results in making it bigger and bigger until developers don't know how to control it. This way of going is outdated, too, so what do we do?
The perfect option is choosing a modern B2B ecommerce solution like Virto Commerce. See the important capabilities such a solution should provide:
- High adaptivity, like the modular approach, allows building an endless amount of separate unique modules for each region, not affecting the core platform and leaving the code clear for developers.
- Robust API-first functionality to ensure that the solution can correctly connect to any third-party solution in another country.
- Headless approach letting businesses create multiple websites for different regions, all being connected to the same core center with data used.
Here, we provide some simple instructions and useful tips on where to start:
- First of all, analyze the new market you are moving to. Find out regulations and law requirements and the ways to comply with them. Conduct customer development sessions to learn what the new audience wants and learn more about your competitors.
- Build your business plan, including all the requirements for your future B2B ecommerce platform.
- Select the B2B ecommerce platform in accordance with the tips above, and make sure you have chosen adaptable and scalable multilingual ecommerce solutions: CMSs, localization tools, multivendor marketplace platform, and so on.
- Ensure you localized all your content well: choose the native localization provider, dive deep into the peculiarities of the local culture, and ensure every step of being is localized. When you localize your platform, do not forget to do it in two steps: localizing the catalog and then localizing the platform itself.
- Make sure your marketing paradigm works well in the new reality. It is important to create a separate SEO strategy for each region, as well as choose new advertising campaigns.
Tips for Launching Multilingual eCommerce Site
Expanding to new regions is only effective if you understand the needs and wants of your target market. Therefore, before expansion, research the potential market carefully and optimize your multilingual ecommerce website according to the expectations of your regional customers.
Below, we’ll go over things you need to optimize or modify in order to prepare your business for multiregional commerce.
Website address: separate domains for each country
Obviously, you’ll have the main website address printed on your business cards, promotional materials, and elsewhere. But when users click and go to your primary site, they should be redirected to a more relevant domain through basic IP/geolocation detection that routes traffic to the correct version based on a user’s location. This is the best long-term strategy as it’s far easier and more manageable to have separate stores for each country. Having unique domains will give you greater control over regional websites as well as offer other benefits:
- Each store can have products, prices, shipping rates, and taxes that are specific to that region.
- Having a country-level domain for each store with content specifically tailored to that region is much better for search rankings than using a single domain, subdomains, or subfolders.
- Such a setup gives you more flexibility regarding future growth and development: you can test different product lines in different markets, scale for expansion, or even downsize and get rid of a specific domain with no impact on your current operations.
Different countries have different requirements regarding product assortment, so you might not be able to sell some of your products in certain overseas markets. Other countries, while allowing the sale of particular goods, can impose other limitations concerning their distribution, which might affect shipping costs or available payment options. Therefore, you’ll need to adjust your product catalogs to fit within legislative and other regional parameters.
Another problem is logistics, as your suppliers might not dropship into the destination country you serve. To avoid potential supply chain bottlenecks, companies typically build several geographically diverse warehouses across regions to ensure there won’t be problems with delivery.
Pricing, currencies and taxes
Different regions have their own price sensitivities, which means you can't use the same prices across distinct markets. For example, a product selling for 50 pounds in the UK might not have the same appeal in emerging markets for multiple reasons, such as local competition or buyers' inability to pay. Since local providers might offer more competitive prices, it makes sense to research the competition first and tailor your price lists accordingly.
Moreover, different countries have different currencies, and one country might have several circulating currencies. This has a myriad of implications. First, it is visual pricing, a phenomenon in which the price psychologically affects buyer behavior. A second consideration is currency conversion rates, which might lead to a product having a lower competitive cost in one currency. For example, you may price your product in the U.S. at $100. So, if you strictly convert it to Canadian dollars, the amount should be 130 CAD. However, if you price it at 125 CAD, you might have better conversions. Having pricing in local currency makes it easier for customers to compare prices across different resellers and avoid unexpected currency conversion fees from their financial institutions.
Finally, there's taxation, which can significantly affect your product's final price. In some countries, you may need to display prices inclusive of tax, while in others, you don't. Some countries may have both federal and state taxes. All those things should be reflected in the checkout process to ensure that the right tax calculation is applied according to the region (or user's billing address).
Multiple regions and warehouses demand more granular stock management. If a given quantity of items is not available in a specific region, find a mechanism that solves the problem — ship from another warehouse in an adjacent region, reject an order, or come up with another solution. In any case, having the right stock count on the storefront is critical to ensuring orders can be fulfilled in a timely manner, so it’s important to provide real-time inventory information to your customers.
Since shipping costs significantly affect your bottom line, it’s important to optimize those costs as much as possible. To do this, your ecommerce platform needs to control shipping costs and show relevant shipping information based on a user’s location (such as lower shipping costs for local customers and higher ones for overseas buyers).
Also, shipping fees may or may not be included in a product’s price, which also should be accounted for by your ecommerce solution.
Since buyers prefer having a choice, enabling different shipping provider options will increase their trust in your multiple store ecommerce. So research the local market for various providers, shipping costs, and delivery times, and diversify by partnering with more than one logistics and fulfillment provider if possible.
Different regions have vastly different preferences regarding content. Therefore, to maximize conversions, you need to reflect the content preferences of a specific region. This affects how you display different types of information, including contact details, addresses, and so on.
Not only that, but you will be required to provide any necessary legal documents with content relative to the specific market and governing authorities.
Also, for SEO purposes, your website content should target a particular country. This is because users from Canada aren’t interested in the USA-related content and vice versa. If you have multiple domains/subdomains, check what content is published where, because if the same article is published on multiple domains, search engines might assign penalties, index this content with low priority, or drop it from the search index entirely.
Localization is a huge part of any multiregional transformation. It refers to the process of adapting your website's content translation to a specific region. Obviously, individual regions speak distinct native languages, and there are often multiple languages people speak within just one country.
Moreover, some languages have words that are significantly longer than English words, which might affect how such content is displayed on users' devices. For example, a German translation can totally mess up the UI of your neat English website since some words might not fit in the given design.
Also, some languages have right-to-left fonts, such as Arabic or Hebrew, which also affects the website design and content representation.
Then, there are dates and numbers to take care of, as different regions have different date and time formats. In the U.S., for example, the preferred format is "mm/dd/yyyy," while in Europe, it's "dd.mm.yyyy". Also, different number formatting (1000 versus 1,000) can help customers navigate the site and simply enrich their experience. So, it's essential to account for all those complexities when localizing your content for a specific market.
Trust is perhaps one of the most important pieces of the puzzle, and also an aggregate parameter that encompasses all of the above. If users trust your site, they will buy from you and tell their friends to buy from you, which leads to an increase in sales and average order value.
Going multiregional is not simple, so it’s important to investigate the details first, research the market and competition, and even hire additional professionals, if needed, who can help you evaluate the pros and cons before delving into unfamiliar territory on your own.
How Virto Commerce Can Enhance Your Multilingual eCommerce Project
The Virto Commerce architecture allows companies to expand their regional presence quickly and inexpensively. The platform supports stores in different regions, multiple languages, and a myriad of currencies while maintaining a single ecosystem of applications with one procedure for order processing and customer service.
A huge advantage of Virto Commerce architecture is its ability to scale and extend to different regions without the need for multiple platforms, which is an enormous advantage for both IT infrastructure and labor. You can manage the core platform with the same IT team while employing additional regional personnel to support local customers. With other platforms, you need to duplicate the platform and resources for each region, which is costly and time-consuming. Virto Commerce avoids this cost duplication from the outset.
Below are some of the modules in Virto Commerce that help support multiregional transition.
- Catalog Modules
The Virto Commerce back end has a set of native or extended modules, including a catalog module to support master catalogs. These replace the physical catalogs that store master data of product items. Master catalogs can be assigned to just one or multiple regions. In situations where the master catalog structure and its contents don’t meet the region’s requirements, the Virto Commerce catalog module supports a virtual catalog model. Virtual catalogs can be created for each specific region and contain subsets of items from the master catalog. Moreover, this is a perfect feature for procurement that Virto procurement marketplace for B2B uses a lot.
- Pricelist Modules
The pricelist module is responsible for managing specific webstores, regions, catalogs, customer groups, and customer prices. In addition, the pricelist module supports multicurrency options as well. This way, it’s possible to upload and manage pricelists in several currencies for different regions.
- A balance between centralization and decentralization
Thanks to Virto Atomic Architecture™, Virto Commerce users can easily find a balance between “building separate businesses” and “putting it all on the same platform, code on code.” The multilingual ecommerce solution offers building a modular system with headless opportunities of connecting all branches to one center while keeping the capabilities of each region to control their own websites to some extent.
- Full enterprise-level capacity
Virto Commerce can scale continuously to the size your business needs it. You will not need to purchase thousands of new servers; Virto Commerce can expand its cloud-native architecture to provide any required capacity in any region, complying with any regulations.
Good Examples of Multilingual Success Stories
What is an example of a multilingual website? Amazon, Alibaba, eBay, Zara, IKEA, Apple, and an endless list of businesses and B2B online marketplaces use multilingual and multiregional approaches in their business-expanding journeys. Here, we will share two success stories of market giants who could reach their multiregional and multilingual success with Virto Commerce.
Heineken multiregional reach success story
Heineken switched to Virto Commerce to bring out their B2B reselling business in 15 regions. Besides just being able to accelerate in the new markets faster, Heineken got an opportunity to create customer portals and rebrand each regional business accordingly.
While moving to the new markets, Heineken suddenly realized that in some regions, they needed to have a greater catalog capacity than it was forecasted. Virto Commerce could expand accordingly, saving all the regional peculiarities and complying with the regulations.
Bosch Thermotechnik multilingual website success story
Bosch Thermotechnik needed a direct way of communicating with their customers in different regions to bring out the customer loyalty portal. With Virto Commerce, the customer could roll out in 26 regions across Europe and localize over 8,000 different articles in their catalog.
All in all, the reply to the question “Is being multilingual an advantage in business?” is definitely yes. Moving to new regions is easy and profitable when you do not go there alone but take trusted software with you. Choosing the B2B ecommerce platform that can support all your needs is essential. This means the first thing to do must be to check if your current solution can support all your needs. You are lucky if it does! However, if you need some other capabilities or think about replatforming, peep into Virto Commerce's capabilities: the team is always ready to consult on the B2B multilingual ecommerce solution or even provide a free short demo of what the platform can do.