L2’s Intelligence Report: Localization, in partnership with Amplience, pinpoints nine brands that have excelled in scaling their global e-commerce operations. Ranging from Clarins and L’Occitane to Burberry and Lacoste, these brands use a combination of sophisticated technology and local know-how to make differentiated investments across regions. On average, they maintain 35% more country-specific sites than the study’s Index average and offer e-commerce in 22% more countries. Here are three key traits that these nine brands have in common:
They invest in technology
Top brands centralize technology across regions, including site information architecture and e-commerce platforms, thus benefiting from scale and standardization. All nine also invest in language translations and maintain e-commerce operations across most of their country sites, signifying that success in this area also requires local resource allocation.
They build digital talent teams
Brands that are successful at localization invest not only in technology, but also in digital talent. Their global digital and e-commerce enterprise teams have 400 members on average, more than twice the size of such teams at the average enterprise. They are also more likely to hire more digital team members from within than externally, pointing to the efficiencies of internally focused recruitment models.
While maintaining a global presence, top brands keep their e-commerce operations relatively centralized. The study finds that on average, 55% of their digital and e-commerce teams are located at headquarters, helping them capitalize on economies of scale.
They look beyond the U.S.
Although centralization benefits brands, global e-commerce operations also require regional expertise to ensure relevancy in areas like aesthetics and marketing. Yet three in five companies rely on a single location or department to handle their global website localization. These departments are heavily concentrated in the U.S., which is home to half of all digital and e-commerce brand teams. Even international brands such as Japanese retailer Uniqlo staff most digital and e-commerce talent in New York and San Francisco.
Top brands, however, buck the trend. For these nine brands, just one-third of digital resources are located in the U.S. and only two enterprises— Nike and Apple—are headquartered there. The other seven enterprises are headquartered in the E.U. Because the E.U. market is more heterogeneous than the U.S., this reflects the brands’ understanding of the complex challenges posed by localization.
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