Tackling Niche Countries

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

 

Chris Jones

Author: Chris Jones, Independent Multichannel Retail Consultant

 

Localising to lose

 

I remember some years ago being invite to consult to an online retailer of mid-prices watches. They sold internationally recognised brands such as Seiko, Omega and so forth, and had just invested a significant amount of money translating / localising their site for a neighbouring country. They then spent another significant sum on PPC marketing to bring customers from that country to their newly localised site. Resulting total sales: zero.

 

Why? Because there was simply no reason for a foreign customer to buy there. They weren’t cheaper than local retailers, they sold nothing unique, the ranges were readily accessible in their target country, delivery inevitably took longer than local players could achieve, and their site wasn’t otherwise special.

 

Why Niche Countries?

 

One obvious way to overcome these difficulties is to be a brand and / or manufacturer. Theoretically you have unique products available for foreign customers. Quite likely you already see a reasonable level of traffic, and even (if you offer shipping) purchasing, from attractive target countries. For established brands, however, there’s usually a snag: typically they have well-established overseas distributors already in place in such countries. Targeting the same end-customers via your own online store is apt to be unpopular if not actually futile.

 

So what other options are there? One possibility is to look for places where your product-range is still reasonably unique. It’s unlikely that you’ll find such destinations in a “mainstream” online country such as USA, Germany, Australia or Sweden. But there are niche possibilities.

 

Croatia Case-Study

 

One such possibility is Croatia, which I visited recently to present at a retail conference, and which I’ll use to illustrate some key points.

 

To begin with Croatia is small: only 4.4 million people. It’s also not apparently particularly wealthy: average wages are 26% of the UK figure. Only 22% of its population shopped online last year compared with 79% in the UK. Superficially is doesn’t seem very attractive.

 

BUT...

 

Over three quarters of Croatians that do shop online make purchases from overseas sites (see chart ), and it’s a reasonable assumption that those who do so are amongst the wealthiest. The fact that they are shopping overseas anyway makes them good prospective customers.

 

Internet Users and Online Shoppers in Croatia

 

Moreover, the local competition is somewhere between weak and non-existent. There’s no Amazon to start with. eBay is just about to start up there. If you look at international retailers, such as Asos, they might be shipping there but certainly don’t have a Croatian store, while many others (e.g. H&M, Zara or IKEA) are present but don’t have transactional sites for Croatia.

 

OK, there are barriers, but they aren’t as great as you might think.

 

Starting from absolute basics: Croatians do have the necessary devices to access the internet, supported by good broadband penetration too.

 

Device Usage by Country

 

Then, yes you will need to localise your site, although if you already have a German version, the combination of German and English might well make a reasonable initial job of it. There are reasonable local logistics companies (which will typically give you access to the rather similar Slovenia too). Most importantly of all, Croatia is a member of the EU, so a legal framework exists and there aren’t any customs barriers. Croatians pay with mainstream credit cards, and with eBay entering the market, almost certainly also with PayPal in future; there is, however, a local currency to cope with, not the Euro.

 

On the marketing side, Croatians search with Google and network on Facebook, just like their more mainstream-country cousins, so there are few technical barriers to overcome apart from language. And the costs of PPC/SEM type techniques are low compared with Western Europe (around 20%-35% of typical UK costs per click based on a brief analysis (see Global SEM Costs), making it relatively cheap to get going.

 

In summary, a reasonable comparison would actually be with a Northern Ireland where there was effectively NO local competition: not so huge, but possibly a very soft target. In fact if you’re a multibrand retailer, there is even a reasonable chance to develop a first-mover advantage in at least some of your categories.

 

Tempting, isn’t it?

 

LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

Connectivity and online behaviour in Canada

Connectivity and online behaviour in Canada

With typical online behaviour similar to other western counties, the Canadian eCommerce market can be seen as very appealing to cross-border retail. Exploring its sophisticated infrastructure, this article looks at the details of Canadian shoppers’ behaviour online, and examines some of the demographic nuances in internet access, online activity, and device preferences.
Online retail payment methods in Canada

Online retail payment methods in Canada

In different markets, shoppers can have varying preferences when it comes to making payments for orders on eCommerce sites. Canada is no exception but happily, there is more of an opportunity than a challenge when it comes to online retail payment in Canada. This article looks at the online retail payment methods within the Canadian eCommerce market.
Online shopping behaviour in Canada

Online shopping behaviour in Canada

When Canadian Shoppers buy online, how do they go about it, and what do they buy? With the use of mobile growing and the use of various devices for online shopping looking similar to trends in the UK, Canadian eCommerce has been a sleeping giant, but it’s waking up. And quickly. This article looks at the online shopping behaviour of the Canadian eCommerce market.
Online Retail Logistics in Canada

Online Retail Logistics in Canada

How should you go about planning your logistics strategy for servicing the Canadian eCommerce market and what are the options available? Canada is a spectacular 9,306 km from extreme east to extreme west so for any non-Canadian retailer looking for delivery partners to ship into the country, only large players with the scale to cover such a geography are particularly relevant. This article looks at the online retail logistics within Canada and how this impacts its eCommerce market.
5 tips for breaking into online retail in France

5 tips for breaking into online retail in France

France boasts being the 5th largest eCommerce market in the world and with an expectation to exceed €80 billion turnover in 2017, for those looking to enter this thriving online market here are five tips that could help you to break into the French online retail space.
Five things we learned at the eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017

Five things we learned at the eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017

On the 24th May 2017, we hosted our third annual Cross-Border Summit at the ExCeL London. Delegates from retailers and solution providers across the globe came to hear and share the latest insight on cross-border trading. But what were the key takeaways from the day?
2020 Vision: Spring provides route to ‘Destination Benelux’

2020 Vision: Spring provides route to ‘Destination Benelux’

With more than 28 million citizens between them, Belgium and the Netherlands are among the fastest-growing eCommerce markets when it comes to cross-border purchases meaning that they have rocketed up the rankings for attractiveness to retailers.
Entering the Emerging Markets of Latin America: Strategy Essentials

Entering the Emerging Markets of Latin America: Strategy Essentials

Latin America is a target market region for many business looking to expand globally. Brazil and Mexico are undeniable growth markets and the rest of Latin America (LATAM) is welcoming internet, social media, and eCommerce with open arms.
Interview with Melanie Smallwood, International Buying Director at Global Fashion Group

Interview with Melanie Smallwood, International Buying Director at Global Fashion Group

eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017 - Ahead of our annual event on 24th May, we interview Melanie Smallwood, International Buying Director at Global Fashion Group, to learn from her experience and knowledge in cross-border trading around the world.
Interview with Gregor McMillan, Business Development, China at The Hut Group

Interview with Gregor McMillan, Business Development, China at The Hut Group

eCommerce Worldwide Cross-Border Summit 2017 - Ahead of our annual event on 24th May, we interview Gregor McMillan, Business Development, China at The Hut Group, to learn from his experience and knowledge in cross-border trading into China.

Contact Us

eCommerce Worldwide
2 Ching Court
49-53 Monmouth St
London
WC2H 9EY

Tel: 0203 696 0980
2016© eCommerce Worldwide

Keep In Touch

powered by Affino

About eCommerce Worldwide

eCommerce Worldwide provides online retailers with all the information, and resources, they need to develop cross-border strategies for entering new markets around the world
Read More