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Guest Comment: Increase your credibility and visibility in new markets

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By Greig Holbrook

The days of shopping lists left on the kitchen table are finally numbered. No more emotional outbursts in the supermarket due to arguments over which brand of food to buy. No more whinging from our beloved little ones, clinging to their sweets at the check-out in feverish anticipation. Welcome to a new age of shopping. Welcome to e-commerce.

According to the DIBS E-Commerce Index Europe 2010, e-commerce literally sky rocketed last year. This can be equated to a snowball effect – the more people shop online, the higher the expectations grow. Once it starts rolling, the opportunities for online merchants just keep increasing.

Let’s have a look at our “optimism rates” broken down country by country. We’ve all heard the rumours that residents of Scandinavian countries are the happiest people in the world – they are generally pretty optimistic. Good food, great weather, plenty of nature -whatever it is, people love it. So it is a no brainer that they also love the flexibility online shopping gives them. Online retailers – be prepared…

In Sweden 91% of the consumers expect to maintain or increase their spending, compared to: Finland 87%, Denmark 85%, Norway 84%, Germany 76%, UK 73%, Spain 68% and France 61%. Only 5% of the Nordic consumers expect to decrease their use of e-commerce, whereas 14% of Spanish and French consumers expect to buy less online within the next twelve months.

And the winner is…

Which products are the top players in e-commerce world? Here are the top 3! (Source: DIBS E-Commerce Index Europe 2010)

Across Europe around 80% expect to increase purchases of computers – this is fairly consistent in all countries. The same is valid for clothes and shoes online. The fashion sector has good prospects for growth, as shoppers expect to increase their expenditures in these categories by 80% and 46% respectively. With the growth of online sales within the clothes sector comes the development of innovative technologies. At a recent International e-commerce event in London, a software developer presented their tool to scan one’s body measurements, create an “online avatar” of one’s body and try clothes on online. Some outfitters within the luxury section have already started to use this tool in their online shops.

Next in line is the travel sector. Around 62% of the consumers expect to increase their travel expenses online, Norwegian and Danish consumers expect a rapid increase, with 78% of Norwegian consumers expecting to spend more on flight tickets within the next twelve months. The above figures show that the travel sector is heading for continued growth, as major markets such as Germany, Spain and France expect to increase travel expenses – although it is estimated this happen at a slower pace than for the Nordic consumers.

Last but not least, the third sector that can expect fast growth is “food and beverages”. Close to 80% of the UK consumers expect to buy more food online and over 40% expect to buy more alcohol online, closely followed by French and Swedish consumers. Finland and Norway also expect increases, however; only 10% of the Germans and 8% of the Danes expect to buy more alcohol online.

The Nordic merchants share the optimism of the consumers in the region. About 81% of Nordic online merchants expect increased sales in the coming 12 months. Online retailers in Sweden and Norway have the highest expectations; 90% of Swedish online merchants and 87% of Norwegian online merchants expect to increase sales in the coming year. The corresponding figure for Danish online merchants is 70%.

Increasing visibility = Increasing credibility

A logical conclusion we can reach from the above statistics is that the more online consumers there are in the future, the more online retailers (and therefore competition) there will be. Thus, it is very important that online retailers improve their visibility on search engines as well as social networking platforms on an International level.

It will be crucial in the future to include online marketing, especially international search, within the overall marketing budget. As much as the consumer numbers are increasing, it’s not worth anything to online retailers if they appear anywhere at the backend of search engine results. After all, with increasing visibility comes increasing credibility for any online business.

At OBAN Multilingual we always preach that in order to maintain a strong position in competitive online markets you need to analyse both your local and global competition in each target market – localisation is the key to success.

Think like your target audience and moreover speak their language. Don’t base keyword research solely on translations from English to a particular language – neither for PPC nor SE – this is unlikely to work to your advantage.

For example, OBAN Multilingual found that there was a ‘perfect’ German translation of a GPS technology term, but it only had 140 searches per month. Oban’s German team identified an alternative term, which had over 4 million searches per month. Always be sure to put yourself into your target audience’s shoes and you’ll see that search localisation makes sense.

Greig Holbrook is Director of Oban Multilingual, the International SEO specialist.

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