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Retailers limit international digital experience on grounds of cost and complexity

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Retailers are limiting the extent to which they localise their international websites because of the high cost and complexity of doing so, a new study has found.

L2, a firm benchmarking digital performance, worked with big content specialist Amplience to assess the way 67 brands, ranging from Apple to Zara, merchandise their international websites. They found that the complexity and high costs of production meant retailers were limit the markets in which they delivered relevant and localised digital commerce experiences.

The research, which assessed 67 brands ranging from Apple to Zara, found that just 57% of their local sites were ecommerce enabled, while only a third or less operated sites in markets such as South Korea (34%), Russia (28%) and Brazil (31%).

However, even in markets where they did operate ecommerce sites, localisation of content was inconsistent. Only 17% localised editorial content, 7% user-generated content and 5% lookbooks and product guides. Only 23% localised reviews and while video content was the most likely to be localised, only 45% did so worldwide. Even at home page level only 39% were localised.

According to the L2/Amplience report: “Eighty-three percent of marketers who localise content believe that it improves customer experience, highlighting a widespread belief that brand messaging should adapt to local nuance by market.”

Reflecting this belief, 70% of global marketers report increased content budgets for 2015. What’s more, a majority (66%) want to do more than just localise. They want to deliver localised high frequency content – high quality content that is refreshed more often: weekly (40%) or monthly (26%).

Realising this aim will, however, require more than increased budgets, the report argues. Right now, the report found, only half of retailers use a consistent information architecture across global ecommerce sites. Meanwhile, a fragmented array of channel-specific tools and content siloes creates a content complexity problem that drives costs up and makes it practically impossible to localise content across the board.

James Brooke, chief executive of Amplience , said: “Retailers must transform the economics of content production by driving down production costs, increasing exposure and measuring performance, to maximise returns on every content investment.

“As retailers seek to engage and drive sales through high frequency content, they will consolidate diverse, channel-specific solutions and siloes, moving to single digital content platforms to streamline content production and automate channel and locale syndication.”

Mabel Mclean, commerce IQ director at L2, said: “Cost constraints force most brands to balance efficient content syndication to scale investments with local initiatives to ensure relevancy. Those brands prioritizing large global scale must sacrifice attention to local nuance, such as pricing, culture, and regional vernacular.

“To succeed in ecommerce localization, brands with the capacity to do so should allocate budgets to localize content in priority regions, centralise technology and site information architectures, and distribute digital talent.”

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