Your e-commerce site is established in your home country but you'd like to get more traction internationally. After all, there are billions of potential customers out there, many of whom live in developing nations where buying things online or using a mobile device to do so are becoming increasingly popular. (More than a billion smartphones will be sold this year alone, reports The Guardian.)
Take some tips from fashion e-tailer Modnique. It's a members-only shopping site similar to Gilt or Rue La, but different in that it sources most of its inventory internationally and ships to more than 150 countries, with 55 percent of its sales coming from outside the U.S.
"We decided from day one we're going to ship internationally," says Ivka Adam, Modnique VP of mobile and marketing. "We were naturally getting traction in countries and parts of the world that are typically a little bit more underserved in terms of e-commerce options."
The company has learned a thing or two about mobile commerce in the three years it has been around. For one thing, mobile shopping behavior varies significantly depending on where a customer is from. Here's what else you should know.
1. It helps if your marketing and app development functions are closely linked.
Adam, who previously led mobile marketing for eBay North America, leads both the marketing function as well as the developers creating Modnique apps. This is different from the way many companies handle their mobile strategy, often putting it under IT.
"Marketing in e-commerce typically owns the customer and the mobile apps provide the most personalized customer experience," Adam says. "So the fact that I get to take our customer insights and apply them to the mobile app strategy, it's like Nirvana for me."
2. Analyze customer interaction with your site as well as macro trends for target countries.
Adam sees this dual approach as looking "inside-out" and "outside-in."
To identify Modnique's global growth strategy, Adam first looks at how existing customers are interacting with Modnique on mobile devices, either via its mobile-optimized site or within an app.
This inside-out approach involves looking at things like browsing and buying behavior by device, visits, and transactions by country and mobile open rates on email.
As for her outside-in approach, she looks at map road trends for various countries, such as Internet usage or access to Internet, device preferences, e-commerce and m-commerce penetration, smartphone penetration, sentiment around trusted security on mobile devices as well as comfort level with mobile Web and mobile app advertisements.
"That helps me decide basically who to tailor our marketing to first," Adam says. "It also helps me define where on the roadmap I put certain localization types of functionality whether that's language or currency preferences and it also helps inform my marketing, the way I speak to our customers over mobile."
3. Figure out what customers in various countries like to buy most.
Category preferences on mobile vary by country and are slightly different from non-mobile purchases, Adam says.
"In the U.S. we see more purchases in the beauty category on mobile but more purchases on apparel on the desktop," she says.
Other differences she sees: Australians especially like buying handbags and watches using their mobile devices, whereas Russians like buying jewelry and watches. Canadians, for their part, buy a lot of apparel on mobile.
"I keep track of this to help inform how we market to our customers on mobile," she says.
4. Use the right tools to harvest data.
Adam uses these tools:
- Liftoff--"I run my mobile display ad campaigns through them," Adam says. "We've installed their SDK in order to attribute downloads, conversions, and revenue back to the ads they run on various mobile ad networks and exchanges. Some of their ad partners include MoPub, DoubleClick, AppNexus, Nexage, Flurry, and Smaato."
- Mixpanel--This tool is good for in-app tracking and lets companies track individual users in order to provide a more personalized experience.
- Google Analytics--It's good for site and app tracking and its newly released Cross Device Tracking allows for user-centric tracking.
- Jampp--While Modnique doesn't run campaigns with the company yet, Adam says Jampp knows a lot about mobile advertising in emerging markets and what works best in various countries or regions, such as type of traffic (think incentivized vs. non-incentivized vs. game apps), ad banner format, calls to action and what copy is most effective. For example, in some countries including the word "free" can entice people into downloading an app.
5. Launch iOS and Android apps at the same time.
Many e-commerce companies introduce apps for iOS first, but you need to remember that Android is hugely popular in some parts of the world.
"Russians over-index in Android and Australia over-indexes in Android so it was important that we go out with an app that would serve our customer base in those regions," Adam says.