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How to Build a Flexible eCommerce Architecture for Your Global Brand

You’re the Head of eCommerce, or the CTO of a major retail brand. You’ve got a national retail store presence, and a massive customer database. Your sales are growing, your team excels at merchandising, your commerce platform works well in the US, and you’re ahead of the curve in product innovation within your industry.

You’re running a well-oiled machine here, and now it’s time to expand into a new market. According to the Forrester Evolution of Global eCommerce Markets report, global expansion is set to explode in the next two years, so if you’re not thinking global you’re already behind. Given the projections Forrester has put forth, the question is not should you go global, but how do you globalize?

global expansion map

Forrester’s report on how to “Capture the Global eCommerce Opportunity” breaks down the the biggest changes across the global ecommerce landscape in the past five years. Here’s what’s changed:

  • Companies across all categories are now expanding aggressively online.
  • Brands are adding a more diverse set of countries to their lists.
  • Businesses are looking for low-cost, low-risk ways to test international markets.
  • Brands are turning to marketplaces as an option to enter new markets.
  • Brands have a preferred global platform, but also assess the best option for each market.
  • Organizations are carefully straddling centralized versus localized control.

In our previous post on building a world-class technical commerce ecosystem, we discussed the necessary considerations when building a system that’s “best-for-me” -- or best for your business. We talked about the importance of integrating custom tools, modules, and APIs to create a system tailored to meet the needs of your company. The approach is similar when deciding to globalize your commerce operations, except that everything is on a much grander scale.

Unfortunately, most commerce platforms aren’t built to be globalized. Traditional commerce platforms were built for an antiquated commerce landscape. Back then, it was good enough to simply have an online presence in addition to your physical one. But those platforms aren’t equipped to handle this digitized era of omnichannel commerce, where experiences across every channel, in every country, on every device must be united. According to Forbes, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. So why not deliver it?

Not only does your company need to offer a seamless experience across all channels -- it now has to deliver that seamless experience in a locally relevant way across different markets around the world. Product information has to translated and localized, user experience needs to be thought through, new payment systems need to be considered, partners need to be identified, marketplaces explored, shipping and payment logistics sorted out -- and then you have to put all the pieces together. All of this must be done with a global perspective in mind: What kind of system will propel you forwards into the global marketplace today, tomorrow, and even 5-10 years down the line?

Whether globalization is a new initiative for your company, or you’re already operating globally but are looking to unify your systems to create a more seamless experience, now is the time to capitalize on that opportunity. In our next post, we’ll discuss the necessary steps to take towards globalizing your commerce strategy, and then we’ll dive into the systems that you’ll need to help your business execute.

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