Five tips to identify a market for online global expansion

If you’re conducting business online and are looking for new growth opportunities, it’s time to venture beyond your comfort zone. Savvy companies are expanding into international markets with authentically localized websites.

But what are the smartest ways to identify the best global markets for your company? MotionPoint examined the exclusive data generated by the 1,000-plus translated and optimized websites we operate every day, and offer five must-have tips:

1: One Site, Many Markets

Your organization can maximize ROI by launching one translated website that can serve several markets. Consider the business case for launching a Spanish-language site for U.S. Hispanics: this market’s buying power is on track to hit $2 trillion by 2020. About 75 percent of Hispanics speak Spanish at home, and spend nearly 20 percent more per order online than the U.S. average.

Also, consider that underserved customers in other Spanish-speaking markets will transact on a U.S. Spanish site. (As much as 60 percent of traffic can hail from Latin American markets.) They’ll often spend more, too. Mexicans spend nearly 95 percent more AOV than U.S. Hispanics do, for instance.

A website originally intended to serve one market can serve many, at no additional cost.

2: Fulfillment Is Key

The Internet has sparked untold innovations (and big gains) in cross-border commerce. Companies that fulfill global orders can increase their revenue by an average of 17 percent.

However, when it comes to shipping and delivery, some markets are more stable than others. Understanding these nuances is critical. You must play nice with import laws and understand which markets are prone to corruption, natural disasters or other risks that impact e-commerce transactions and delivery.

Have solutions in place for those problems — or partner with a vendor already fluent in these marketplaces, and their unique challenges.

3: Supporting Your New Customers

Using translated websites to expand into new global markets is increasingly easy and affordable — and will generate business results. But as you identify new markets to penetrate, be mindful of the additional customer support resources you’ll need to earn consumers’ trust.

A customer service FAQ page (translated into the local market’s language) will certainly reduce customer inquiries, but it can’t serve everyone. Customer-facing experiences such as support e-mails and “contact us” forms must be localized. Phone representatives should also be fluent in the language.

Examine your company’s current resources, with an eye for overcoming these challenges with in-house — or expert outsourced — team members.

4: Relevant Technical Infrastructure

Companies new to global online expansion often believe their new translated sites must be hosted by servers based in those new international markets. This is usually unnecessary. Latency issues are uncommon in regions such as Europe, where solutions smartly distribute server loads.

However, the need for local hosting is high in other international markets. Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and geo-load balanced servers are often used by companies to improve their domestic sites’ speed or reliability, but can also play nice with the governmental requirements of restrictive international markets. China is one such market.

Finding a localization partner that provides IT resources and geo-load balancing, when appropriate, is imperative.

5: Get Social

Smartly identifying global markets with robust social network adoption rates can also supercharge local sales. Here, customers can easily reach out to their friends, sharing and recommending your brand and products.

Integrating regional social network functionality into your localized site can lead to more traffic and revenue. For instance, after integrating networks WeChat, Weibo and QQ into its Chinese site, one of our clients saw 30 percent of its referral traffic and 10% of its total site revenue hail from those networks.

Charles Whiteman is senior vice president of client services at MotionPoint Corp., one of the world’s leading enterprise localization platform. He may be reached at [email protected].

Elizabeth Stroble and Webster University are helping to turn St. Louis into a Gateway to the World

Elizabeth Stroble, President, Webster University

Elizabeth Stroble, President, Webster University

There are a number of people who would argue that St. Louis’ slogan “Gateway to the West” could be updated to “Gateway to the World” — and Elizabeth Stroble, Ph.D., the newest president of Webster University, believes it more than most.

During the expansion of America, St. Louis was indeed a “Gateway to the West.”

“[Today,] I would say the slogan could be reversed as well; the world needs to see St. Louis as a gateway,” Stroble says.

As president, Stroble has been finding ways to continue to expand the institution’s presence globally in an effort to provide students with a more diverse curriculum that not only benefits them, but the businesses and communities that those students then work and live in.

Webster University is based in St. Louis, and has campuses in Geneva, Vienna, The Netherlands, London, China and Thailand. The college employs some 1,200 full-time faculty and staff members and has 21,000 students — 8,000 of them in St. Louis.

Stroble came to Webster in 2009, and with the university turning 100 in 2015, she has been evaluating where the college can grow and improve itself for the sake of its students, communities and business partners.

“What I learned since I arrived here was that Webster University has a tremendous history of being globally excellent with room to grow the global excellence,” Stroble says. “It’s highly innovative and entrepreneurial and its mission, going back to its founding, was to meet an unmet need.”

During the last four years, she has been assessing the university’s strengths and opportunities.

“The strengths and opportunities at Webster are to continue to connect the pieces and parts of that global network so that strength builds upon strength and that we stay connected, not only locally but globally,” Stroble says.

Here’s how Stroble is advancing the university’s strengths and opportunities.

Do a thorough assessment

Before coming to Webster University, Stroble was provost, senior vice president and COO at the University of Akron in Ohio. Wanting to find a presidency position, she came to Webster.

“The move to Webster University was about the presidency of an institution that’s local here in St. Louis but has a global reach and impact, and that was what was most interesting to me about it,” Stroble says.

With the school’s international footprint a big drawing factor, Stroble began to assess the university’s strengths and opportunities in that area and how Webster could benefit students, businesses and communities.

“I spent a great deal of time in the St. Louis community not only interacting with faculty, staff and students here but with local business and community leaders who have a global footprint in their own organizations and want to increase the global interaction in St. Louis, because that makes it a thriving community and a globally competitive community,” she says.

Stroble also began visiting every international location and many domestic locations of Webster University.

“Part of what fascinates me and continues to about Webster University is the diversity that comes from being located in different places,” she says. “While the location is different and the diversity of the students is different, the academic programs reflect local market needs.”

Taking that tour of various Webster campuses helped Stroble assess where the university could improve.

“You have to take plenty of time listening and asking for other people’s advice and counsel,” Stroble says. “One of my fundamental questions was, ‘What do you most hope that your new president will preserve about Webster University, and what do you most hope the new president will seek to change?’

“My sense in every organization is that there are these sacred traditions, values, habits and processes that people hope will continue. It’s always an assessment of whether you, as president or the new leader, will agree with those, but it’s important to know them.”

Stroble’s assessment left her with a sense that Webster University, like most organizations, had some ambition and pent-up hope and demand for change.

“If you don’t know what that is, you can’t help to fulfill the hopes and dreams that caused you to be the president who was selected,” she says. “That is an important learning opportunity, and you need to seize it to its fullest advantage, because when you’re new, it’s the greatest warning opportunity.

“Over time, it’s harder to see things with fresh eyes and … it’s hard to disabuse yourself of the notion that there might be better ways to do things.”

As an incoming leader of an organization, you have to take advantage of not knowing very much about the operation because you can ask the naive question and gain a lot of insight.

“Over the course of my presidency, it’s my role to listen to what’s going on in the external environment,” Stroble says.

For Webster University, that’s an external global environment and what’s happening in the world of higher education but also in the world of culture, diversity, politics, economics and the larger environment that we all live in and hope to shape.

“How do I learn about that and help to communicate that effectively to the university community so that we can truly not only be responsive but lead the change that the external environment wants?” she says.

“In turn, how do I learn well enough what the strengths are of Webster University so I communicate those well to an external environment to continue to attract students, high-quality employees, donors, external support, and local and global support partnerships?”

To help aid in that responsibility, Stroble has been investing in developing Webster’s talent around global diversity and knowledge and is focused on improving curriculum.

“We revised our general education curriculum to focus on global citizenship, and we have been building many more partnerships with international universities, especially in parts of the world where we are not,” she says. “That’s why it’s important for us to expand the campus footprint beyond Europe and Asia.”

Webster University wants to open global opportunities for its students and St. Louis businesses at the same time to bring an infusion of global talent to St. Louis and across the world.

“This focus on people, partnerships, curriculum and programs that help support student travel, more scholarship prospects for international students and raising our profile in terms of how well we communicate about the opportunities we can create at Webster University for businesses and other higher education institutions has been the work I have been doing,” Stroble says.

Develop global talent

True to Webster’s mission to fulfill a need, one of the institution’s goals is to build capacity in potential new geographies. These new international locations need to have a stable political environment, a stable and growing economy, and a need in that local community for American-style education taught in English in the degree programs Webster offers.

Globalization at Webster University is much more comprehensive than most other universities. Some even say that globalization is baked into the university’s DNA.

“It’s my job to help deepen this, broaden it, strengthen it, further it, but it certainly dates back to before I arrived,” Stroble says. “It was such a part of Webster University from its inception that we were ahead of the curve. Again, we’re an institution that prides itself on meeting a need and being entrepreneurial and naturally saw opportunities to do that outside of St. Louis well before it became cool to be global.”

Webster’s effort globally is much more about creating synergies and mutual benefit than it is about carrying the American message abroad.

“We’re much more about being truly global and figuring out how to live that through preparation of students, who we hire and how we think about the geography than we are about how we export an American education that might seek it,” she says.

While constantly looking at new international locations for the college, Stroble is also extremely focused on how that global diversity can benefit the local community in St. Louis.

“We have purposefully built a program with the state of Missouri called the Global Internship Experience that provides interns from international locations for companies here in St. Louis and sends Missouri students to international locations to do internships there,” she says. “We’ve been doing that for 25 to 30 years and it continues to expand.”

Another effort to broaden education and benefit businesses is the creation of a Confucius Institute.

“The point of a Confucius Institute is that you provide an arm for increasing knowledge of Chinese language and culture in your local community,” Stroble says. “Ours was founded in 2008, and it was the first in the state of Missouri. Our Confucius Institute provides resources to local businesses who seek to learn more about how to do business with the Chinese.”

This institute is a direct connection of Webster’s expertise and relationship with the Chinese Ministry of Education that opens up doors and opportunities for young people and businesses.

“It would be hard to know the world without knowing China,” she says.

All of these advancements to the global education of Webster’s students provide a platform for lifelong learning.

“It’s not only about the important topic of being a citizen of the world and seeing things in a large perspective or relating to people who have had experiences different from ours; it’s about creating an open point of view about learning, changing and responding to an environment that will continue to change,” Stroble says.

“If you learn how to navigate a different country, different language, a different culture, different politics, a different lifestyle, that positions you to learn about new technologies, new field development, new environmental challenges across your lifetime. You open up your world in more ways than globally.” ●

How to reach: Webster University, (800) 981-9801 or www.webster.edu

Takeaways

Listen and ask questions about the organization as a new leader.

Evaluate the organization’s strengths and opportunities.

Develop a presence to benefit stakeholders locally and globally.

The Stroble File

Elizabeth Stroble, Ph. D.

President

Webster University

Born: New Castle, Wyo.

Education: She earned a degree in history and English from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. She has two masters of arts degrees, one in history and one in American and English literature, both from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She received her doctorate in curriculum studies from the University of Virginia-Charlottesville.

Background: She spent time at Northern Arizona University-Flagstaff and University of Louisville-Kentucky. At University of Akron she was the dean of the College of Education and was promoted to provost, senior vice president and COO. She then sought a presidency and came to Webster University.

What was your first job and what did you learn from that experience?

I was a waitress. I worked my way through college waitressing. Serving the hungry public teaches a lot about communication skills and being attentive to detail and being pleasant to interact with. I learned a lot about customer service.

What got you into education?

During my next-to-last term at Augustana, I was in the student teaching program. I had this spectacular student teaching assignment and after about the second or third day I decided this was my life.

Who is someone you’ve admired in the education world?

I worked for the chairman of the history department at Augustana, J. Iverne Dowie, and I looked up to him greatly because he had been blind since he was three years old. My job was to read books and papers out loud to him, and he and I would discuss what I had read. I admired his intellect and how gentle he was as an individual and how accomplished he was to be the department chair. A lot of what I learned about teaching and university work was from his direct example.

What are you looking forward to at Webster University?

I’m excited about this institution continuing to live that mission of setting a distinct standard for global education and preparing our students to be individually excellent and citizens of the globe.

Driving global sales for manufacturers

Andrew Dorn, Industry Leader, Information Intensive Business, Acxiom Corporation

When Andrew Dorn, Industry Leader, Information Intensive Business, Acxiom Corporation, was recently researching the top manufacturers in the United States, one topic kept coming up — the strong growth expectations focused on the world’s emerging markets. With the economies of the U.S. and Europe in flux, Dorn felt that, now more than ever, manufacturers need to be attentive to those emerging markets.

“The world is now flat,” says Dorn. “Competition comes from everywhere, so manufacturers need to be everywhere.”

Because of that, Acxiom has partnered with Smart Business to present a special one-hour webinar: “Driving Global Sales for Manufacturers: Why global growth for manufacturers is more important than ever.”

During the webinar — on Wednesday, September 19 at 1:00pm EST — we will discuss why global sales for manufacturers is critical, what factors should be considered in developing or refining the  international strategy, and, finally, present a roadmap that can be employed to optimize chances for success.

Featured panelists will be Zia Daniell Wigder, Vice President and Research Director, Forrester Research; Jennifer Barrett Glasgow, Global Privacy and Public Policy Executive, Acxiom; and Michael Biwer, Managing Director, Acxiom.

“As you enter the global market, it is imperative you understand the privacy laws in each country as they are quite complex and some are very stringent, for example, having criminal penalties for some violations,” says Barrett Glasgow.

Other topics to be discussed include:

  • How to determine which countries to enter and what data to gather to understand regional customer requirements
  • Recommended approaches to building country-specific strategies that can help facilitate smooth transitions, lowest possible cost-of-entry, and consistent performance
  • Considerations for navigating the complex web of country-specific data protection and privacy laws companies must adhere to in their efforts to connect with customers and prospects
  • Best practices used by leading companies that have successfully entered new markets

“The U.S. and European economies are still recovering and the balance of growth is constantly shifting,” says Dorn. “For example, China and Brazil have been experiencing strong growth. They are encountering a maturity curve, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of the issue — manufacturers need to be diversified and have a presence in all major world markets.”

The webinar, “Driving Global Sales for Manufacturers: Why global growth for manufacturers is more important than ever” will be held at 1:00 pm EST on Wednesday, September 19.

Click here to register for this free event!

How to plan for opportunities and capture business abroad

Robert Olszewski, Director, Audit & Accounting Group, Kreischer Miller

Businesses today face more competition than ever, driving them to go beyond their own backyards and look globally for ways to capture market share and meet the needs of customers. Whether doing business at home or abroad, many of the challenges businesses face remain the same — turning a profit, delivering value to shareholders and satisfying customers, says Robert Olszewski, a director in the Audit & Accounting Group at Kreischer Miller, located in Horsham, Pa.

“Beyond those basic goals of running a business, customer demands have become more persistent, with heightened expectations from markets that companies can potentially serve,” says Olszewski. “The good news is that significant advances in technology during the last two decades have provided the tools that businesses need to grow their presence internationally. Companies that take advantage of these resources and think beyond geographic borders can capture market opportunities outside the U.S. The business world has become a flat playing field, and companies have developed strategies to adapt to an ever-changing world that may present expansion across the globe.”

Smart Business spoke with Olszewski about the advantages of going global and how a business can prepare to compete in the international marketplace.

What benefits can businesses realize when they go global?

International expansion can provide an opportunity to deliver new products or services to a previously unexplored market. Making this possible are technological advances that have enabled companies to operate efficiently across international boundaries at spending levels that were previously insurmountable.

Global expansion continues to extend beyond sophisticated overseas markets. Companies have benefited from expanding into newly industrializing countries such as Korea, providing an additional stimulus to international business activities. By going global, companies can take advantage of an enhanced supply chain network of facilities and distribution centers that expedite the delivery of goods. There are tightened demands with respect to procurement, manufacturing materials into intermediate and finished products, and product distribution to consumers. Global expansion may give companies geographic leverage by having production facilities, distribution centers and sourcing points that may drive efficiency and promote success.

How can a business prepare to expand its operation for global business?

Before simply jumping into the pool, it’s a good idea to test the waters and determine whether global expansion is truly an option for your company. Companies that have effectively integrated into global markets must have a well-designed strategic plan, which involves market research and analysis of those results. It requires establishing a first-year operating budget and developing a support structure to accommodate anticipated growth.

The plan should also prepare the company for expansion, answering the question of what is next. The creation of a plan will serve as your roadmap, albeit one that is reviewed often and revised as needed. The main goal of your strategic plan for going global is to identify the right mix of domestic and international operations, and the sequence of expansion into varying markets.

Ultimately, success at the international level requires a broad awareness of the local environment. The company and its leadership should be flexible and prepared to adapt to change quickly. By identifying the risks and opportunities of expansion in advance, a company can make smart tactical decisions while implementing its strategic plan.

What are some common mistakes companies make when doing business globally?

The most common mistake is not playing by the rules. Corporate policies must be appropriate and comply with conditions in the countries in which a global expansion occurs. Simply put, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Companies involved in international markets must be aware of government regulations and pay careful attention to these when conducting business.

This can be difficult without a well-established management team that possesses an understanding of the requirements. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of a third party who has expertise in international business and who can steer your company in the right direction as the strategic plan is implemented.

It’s also important to recognize that international trade and financing have grown at a rapid pace. Companies are buying, selling and making financing decisions across borders. As a result, businesses must formulate policies for managing cash flow in foreign currencies that must be updated and monitored as relevant information becomes available.

Finally, companies must carefully manage human resources if they want to succeed in the international market. Again, since no two companies operate the same way, how HR issues are handled will depend on the organization.

What advice would you give to companies that are considering entering the global business marketplace?

First and foremost, global expansion is not meant for everyone. The U.S. is blessed with a significant population, high gross domestic product, large median income and a limited language barrier.

For the majority of companies that fail with global expansion, the reason is not a substandard product or service. Instead, they fail because of poor advanced planning, refusing to understand the local environments and investing funds without regard for the anticipated return. That is why careful analysis and planning are critical first steps to expanding business globally.

Consult with trusted advisers as your strategy is developed to ensure that the company stays on course for success.

Robert Olszewski is a director in the Audit & Accounting Group at Kreischer Miller in Horsham, Pa. Reach him at (215) 441-4600 or [email protected]


John Palazzo built a niche market into a global company by focusing on product quality

When he left his last job to found Frontline International Inc. in 2000, John Palazzo ignored the four P’s of marketing – product, price, promotion and place — and just launched his company on the belief that if he could develop and manufacture a great and unique product, the market would follow.
While it seemed like a mistake — the company didn’t sell anything in its first two years – Palazzo stuck it out. But today, Frontline International’s cooking oil recycling equipment is a staple in almost all chain restaurants, grocery stores, airports, universities, prisons and other institutions.
It was while employed at Darling International, a recycler of restaurant cooking oil, that Palazzo realized there was a better method of recycling waste cooking oil. His employer wasn’t a manufacturer, so Palazzo began to develop his new concept for recycling cooking oil.
Although initially there wasn’t much interest in the product, after much persistence, the Jack in the Box restaurant chain agreed to a five-store trial. The trial was successful and the corporation specified the equipment in all corporate stores. And before long, Palazzo was renting more garages to accommodate production for orders from companies such as Wendy’s and Sonic Drive-Ins.
In 2005, Frontline International bought its first corporate building. As president, Palazzo has worked to expand his products to accommodate all kinds of businesses and organizations with its oil recycling offerings on a global scale. Moving forward, he recognizes that his company is in a market that is rapidly expanding. To ensure future international growth, he continues to look for opportunities in new technology, product development and product design that add value and efficiency in recycling cooking oil waste.

How to reach: Frontline International Inc., (330) 861-1103 or www.frontlineii.com