Ecommerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe, with sales in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, and Spain expected to grow from €156bn in 2014 to €219bn in 2016.
Southern European countries are currently experiencing the fastest growth, while ecommerce in Northern Europe is already well established and entering a new phase of competitive development. In the battle for a share of the consumer wallet, retailers are turning to globalisation, innovation and optimisation to achieve competitive advantage and increase profitability.
Using IP geolocation to localise content is one tactic used by ecommerce brands to gain a competitive advantage. It enables the identification of a web visitor’s location and connection characteristics based purely on their IP address, and it allows etailers to make content more relevant and engaging for the user. All too often ecommerce sites take a one-size-fits-all approach to online shopping, which can result in low conversion and high abandonment rates. By applying IP geolocation data, the consumer experience is enhanced, resulting in higher conversion rates and increased sales, as well as a reduction in abandonment rates.
So how can brands use localisation and IP geolocation to enhance their customers’ online shopping experience?
Display relevant products
IP geotargeting enables retailers to display locally relevant content and product sets more prominently. For example, the home page of an eCommerce site might feature skiwear when accessed from Alpine regions, and the latest high-street fashions when accessed from a capital city. IP geotargeting also provides the opportunity to link real-world events to website content in real time. For example, if the weather suddenly turns cold or wet in a particular region or city, warm and weather-proof clothing ranges can be brought to the fore on a site, increasing relevance, response, and revenue.
Personalise offers and promotions
In addition to serving relevant product groups, IP geotargeting can also enable brands to deliver personalised content such as local promotions or regional special offers. It can automatically list stores in close proximity to the online shopper, increasing usability and creating an instant connection with website visitors. Retailers can even use IP geolocation to drive offline sales – by delivering ‘in-store only’ discount codes and coupons to consumers who are located close to a particular store.
While English is the default language for the web, the Can’t Read Won’t Buy report found a significant number of global consumers are more likely to buy products and services from a website if the content is delivered in their native language. The standard solution to this is to ask visitors which country they are accessing from – an awkward and unnecessary step that wastes time during that crucial first interaction and reduces conversion rates. The most successful global eCommerce websites are supported by more than 28 language versions – with the language most relevant to location appearing on the home page automatically.
Offer relevant currency and delivery options
Another important aspect of relevancy to the user is the displayed currency, and the delivery options available to them. IP geotargeting can be used to identify the country of origin of the visitor and adjust local currency settings, making published prices immediately more meaningful and relevant to shoppers. Home delivery options and rates can be amended to suit the user’s location, and their local store details can be displayed automatically for click-and-collect services – all without the need for outdated and invasive postcode checkers.
As well as enhancing the overall customer experience, brands can use IP intelligence data to measure campaign effectiveness – at local, regional, national and even international level – so they know what products and services sell best and where. By mapping out sales success by area, ecommerce websites can further increase regional relevance and engagement.
Ensuring the accuracy of IP data is pivotal to its success as an ecommerce tool. Localisation is extremely powerful if used properly, but getting the location wrong is likely to have a negative impact on brand image and customer trust. There are several suppliers and systems available that, for a small investment, claim to be able to determine an IP’s location. But can they be relied upon? Determining the correct location of an IP address requires advanced infrastructure analysis, only provided by specialised geolocation companies dedicated to delivering accurate and granular data, as opposed to those who simply scrape internet registries and repackage publically available data that is sold online.
Establishing where a customer is connecting from delivers critical information to enable ecommerce retailers to optimise and personalise the customer experience – thereby reducing bounce rates while increasing conversion rates. It is clear that highly granular IP geolocation data offers a key competitive advantage in a market which is set for continued global growth and where the competition is only getting hotter.
Steve Sawyer is vice president, international strategy, EMEA, at Digital Element