Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Cross Border E-commerce 2014

I wish everybody a happy , healthy and especially a great cross border e-commerce and marketing year.
I have combined a few presentations about digital trends for 2014 in this combined slideshare presentation so everybody can keep up with the trends and be prepared for a great digital 2014!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cultural differences, marketing and management

Just because it is such an interesting subject, a short video about cultural dilemma's, management and marketing.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top 30 world's most attractive e-commerce countries

It is almost 2014. So, one of my last posts this year about 2013 figures.. But an interesting post!

ATKearney released an interesting report a few weeks ago. The so called "Global retail e-commerce index 2013".For everybody who is interested in cross border marketing and e-commerce, this is a must read report. Very useful for those who are busy with a global e-commerce strategy.
The report ranks the top 30 countries for their online market attractiveness and it explains differences in e-commerce approach for a few major e-commerce countries.

China tops the report, as ATKearny expect China e-commerce to explode in the next few years, thanks to improvements in infrastructure, urbanisation and the increase in consumption inside China. This article for example explains a path to a consumer led grow in China and explains about improving consumer protection (and thus more trust in online sales)

China tops list of top 30 e-commerce countries

AtKearney describes three groups of e-commerce markets in their report:
  • Digital DNA markets
Countries that have digital and e-commerce in their DNA. High technology adoption rates and a very mature e-commerce market. Don't forget they might have a very different approach (due to possibilities) for e-commerce even compared to the "Established and growing markets". On my travels in for example Japan and Hong Kong I saw a really different way of doing online business compared to Western-Europe.
  • The Next generation markets
“Consumer online practices in those countries are well developed, but each of these markets lacks one of the big three capabilities—Internet accessibility, logistical infrastructure, or financial systems. Developing these capabilities (as each of these markets is working hard to do) will quickly make these countries critical e-
commerce targets for global retailers,”
  • Established and Growing markets
Established and Growing markets, have high Internet penetration and use. However, there is still considerable room for growth in these markets. Markets like the USA and Canada or Western-Europe.

Developing Countries

Interesting is that developing countries are extremely rapid in adapting to e-commerce. Consumers are less tied to traditional retail then in developed countries. Often e-commerce via mobile devices is much more common then in developed countries. This report (e-commerce in developing countries) from the world trade organisation has more details.

Smaller countries and e-commerce

It's always nice to see the potential that ecommerce has in smaller countries with a high GDP. Often these countries are skipped in expanding online business abroad, but there are huge possibilities, consumers are very online mature, but also expect webshops to be mature. Match their expectations! Offer excellent service, provide exciting online offers and be sophisticated.
The average order value in these countries is high. Think about countries like Norway, Hong Kong, Singapore, all high at the global ecommerce list and most of them marked by ATkearney as countries with a "Digital DNA".

Answers for your Digital Strategy

According to the report in any globalization strategy, these questions have to be asked:
  • How big is the market
  • How fast is the market growing
  • How do consumers behave within the market
  • Is there sufficient infrastructure in place to deliver the online consumer promise

The report answers with this figure:

Ecommerce growth potential per online market group
I would have expected, Norway, Finland, Switzerland and maybe even Germany a little bit more to the right.

Download the complete report here. Or read it via slideshare below:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Internationalise your online business

You are a (small) retailer, and you want to expand your online business abroad. But how to start? In a series of blog posts, I will try to find some answers at questions like this. However every retailer has it's own current situation and a "one answer fits all" is impossible: If you do not have enormous budgets, for developing new websites and hiring international e-commerce experts, you can do things yourself.
In my opinion a localized site and localised promotions are absolutely the ideal situation. There are to many differences in culture, legal and commerce, to just copy paste your website.

First make sure you have (or find someone who has) e-commerce or website experience in your home country. It will give you many insights that will help you make you succesfull abroad. It is not of any use to sent traffic to your website, if the website is not delivering what you want it to deliver (orders, leads, brand value etc).
If your current website is not performing, do not start expanding abroad, first get experience in optimizing your current website.

The 11 C internationalisation framework

Newman and Lake developed the "11 C's of Internationalization" a framework that will help people to review the opportunities and challenges for specific markets.
  1. Country
There are many potential countries you might want to expand to. But which country is a good choice? If you do not have any idea yet, try to do online research.
A few links to help you out:

Google Trends. Google Trends is a free tool that will help you to identify "trends". Type in some "keywords" that are relevant to your products or services in a local language and see the popularity of these products in a time frame. 
Google Consumer Barometer. Google's consumer Barometer gives you free market research data, about products and services, all around the globe. 
Google's Global Market Finder. Google's Global Market finder helps you finding popular keywords all around the globe. But be aware. This tool is made for selling adwords advertisement, use it for analysis only if you do not have Adwords Experience. Auto translating, (that is available in the tool) is often not correct.
DHL Global Connectedness Index. DHL's global connectedness index, is released every year and will help you analysing the e-commerce maturity and possibilities of nations.
ICT Facts and Figures 2013. What is the internet penetration in area's around the world? How many people use mobile internet? Find answers to these questions and more in the ICT Facts and Figures report.
Asia Digital Marketing Report. Planning to expand to Asia? Read this interesting Asia Digital Marketing Report.

More C's after the break!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

International e-business and online marketing channels: some quick thoughts

Today, I am in the mood for writing something. Just a quick blog post today about international e-business. A few things to take into account when practicing international e-commerce.
  • Email marketing
E-mail marketing is an excellent channel to use for generating traffic to your website. A lot of people often forget about "deliverability". Deliverability means the percentage of the e-mails you sent out, that arrives at the subscribers. I won't go into details now. But if you go abroad with your email marketing campaigns, make sure you focus at deliverability.

If your  e-mail does not arrive at many people of your database, you lose a lot of money! Make sure your e-mail service provider can help you with e-mail deliverability in the countries you are active.
  • Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing can be a good alternative source for traffic and sales.
At this moment there are no global affiliate marketing agency's. Note that the affiliate marketing matureness can differ enormously per country and per branch. Make sure you investigate this before you sign a contract. Maybe small local affiliate marketing agency's have better publishers then the big agency, you already are in contact with.
  • Search Engine Optimization
Coming from Western Europe or the USA, people often think, Google is the only search engine that really matters. This is not true. Several local (and international) search engines, you might have never heard of, are very important if you look at it from an international perspective. Think of "Baidu" in China, "Seznam" in the Czech Republic or "Yandex" in Russia. Make sure you follow their guidelines and do research in the possibilities.
  • Search Engine Advertising
The same that goes for Search Engine Optimization, as written above, is also valid for search engine advertising. There are many different options to advertise at international and local search engines. Also keywords that you advertise at, might be a lot cheaper or more expensive in another country even with the same search engine. The same word you advertise at in Google Germany, might be 50% cheaper in Sweden.
  • Social Media Marketing
There are many social media networks, besides Facebook. Investigate the usage of the social networks in the countries you focus at, but also study the culture of these users. Especially in social media, cultural differences and cultural dilemma's appear in the open. Be prepared.

Global penetration of social media networks in 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Presentation "Dutch Export Event 2013" : international digital online strategy

Below the presentation, I gave at the Dutch Export event 2013.
The topic was international online marketing and the differences between countries and how to setup an international digital online strategy.
Thank you Fenedex for organising this very interesting day!

Dutch Version:

English version:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Effortless Experience: Book Review

We all know the stories about Zappo's.com or Dutch Coolblue.com and their extreme focus at customer service. The stories are often very inspiring and motivating (for marketers and customer service professionals). After reading these stories, I often get very much motivated to use these experiences in my daily job. But not all companies can differentiate with such extreme customer service. What if the holy grail of service for many companies is not customer delight, but customer relief? It's always good to see things from a different perspective. 
Besides that, to have a great customer experience (and conversion) in your digital channels you have to understand customer service! 

So I decided to buy a book about customer experience. "The effortless experience"  by Nick Toman and Rick Delisi. I've read it and below a short summary of my findings combined with my personal opinion and the relation with digital.

First the book starts with asking the question: what companies you do business with or buy from specifically because of the exceptional customer service they provide?
Then the follow up question is of course: what companies have you stopped buying from and refused to do business with because of the awful service you have experienced?
The second question is often much easier to answer then the first one.

This is in line with a recent study in China I published at my slideshare profile, where negative messages spread much faster at social media.

I sometimes buy with Coolblue, a company in the Netherlands which is know for it's excellent customer service. It's customer service reputation, might be a reason to buy there, but for me personally it is not my trigger to buy there. I bought a few products there this year, but I never needed the customer service department. So service for me, is not differentiator for buying at coolblue. 
They just need to meet my expectations in delivery, communication and quality. And they do.

Should companies try to create differentiation and build customer loyalty by delivering superior service?
The answer to this question is in the book. Below the key findings.

The book defines three definitions of loyalty

  • Repurchase - customers continue to buy from your company;
  • Share of wallet - customers buy from you over time;
  • Advocacy - customer say good things about your company.

All the things in a service interaction that could make customers loyal to companies, which ones actually do?

The authors did extensive international research to answer this question. They conclude the following:

  • A strategy of delight does not pay
International research among 97.000 customers says there is no difference between the loyalty of customers whose expectations are exceeded and those whose expectations are simply met! A delight strategy might cost a lot of money, but do you get the loyalty back? Not according this study.

  • Satisfaction is not a predictor of loyalty
In their research 20% of the customers said, they were satisfied by the service interaction, but at the same time they also were actually intending to leave the company and buy from somebody else.
Satisfaction does not always means loyalty.

  • Customer Service Interactions tend to drive disloyalty, not loyalty
Customer Service is a strong factor in disloyalty! It might sound strange But often customer interaction might lead to disloyalty. Positive product experiences lead to loyalty.

Impact customer service at customer loyalty

A positive product experience has more impact on loyalty
then customer service

  • The key to mitigating disloyalty is reducing customer effort
The customer effort is the important factor for mitigating disloyalty. (e.g. generic service, more then one contact to resolve the problem, etc) First Contact Resolution is key in providing service and loyalty.

The main argument in the book according to the authors is : mitigate disloyalty by reducing customer effort. That's the strategy you should handle.

Hej, customer effort, I remember, I wrote about it earlier, you can measure that :)
Read much more and the relation about customer effort score and digital marketing at the next page!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

E-commerce strategy and third party advertising - the pro's and con's

Many company's who are into e-commerce, sooner or later will ask themselves the question "is it an advantage or disadvantage for us to promote our products at third party websites like Amazon, Ebay or local variants"?

This question is not so easy to answer. It really depends per organization, but we tried to establish a list with pro's and con's.

You have to remember that the philosophy of many of the real large "third party" marketplaces like Amazon, Rakuten, E-bay, is that they expect, that in a few years time there will be only a few real large webshops available for the mainstream products. They are tend to be one of them! They need your product feed to establish that!

The position of third party advertising in your e-commerce strategy?

Pro's (why sent your product feed to a third party webshop)


Third party webshops usually have an enormous reach! Millions of people search for a product and because of price of reputation they might choose your product at a third party webshop.


Due to the reach factor, people see your brand more often. Your brand recognition might improve.


In short term, working with these marketplaces can increase your turnover rapidly. You will reach a lot of new customers!

Test new markets (internationlisation)

Of course with an international view, third party advertisements are a great way to test a new market. Thinking of expanding your online business abroad? Try selling your products via third party's first!



By selling your products at a third party webshop, the third party webshop will gain enormous valuable information about your productline. They might start selling your products themselves in the future!

No exclusivity

There might be a fierce competition between other merchants who offer similar products. It is possible to get into a fierce price competition at the third party webshop.


This is really very important to understand. Many company's have old fashioned CRM systems where they cannot profile. But don't worry these big marketplaces will gain very, very valuable information about your customers! And they will use this information to target and profile them! There is a huge risk that customers keep on buying from the third party because of their very extensive profiling possibilities.
Don't forget that e-commerce customers more and more want retailers to "understand what they want" , Amazon, Rakuten, and similar party's know this! And all of their business intelligence helps them offering what the visitor wants (even if the visitor it does not know yet!)


When you co-operate with those third party webshops, often you have to sign a contract which indicates that you do not own the customer data from the people that order.You cannot sent them e-mail marketing, you might not even brand your company in the parcel's customers order via this channel. It is very important to realise this and to see the connection between this and the profiling part. Of course they do not want you to brand your own company! They loose this valuable profiling information if you do!


Be aware that these marketplaces have a very good SEO ranking. Your website might rank lower then these marketplaces, with your own products! In your "third party strategy" think about this. By for example sending over separate or less extensive product content, you might lower this risk.


Third party's like Amazon, Rakuten etc. have billions of dollars (or Yens). They overclass you in possibilities or duration!

Webshop features and relations

The party's you sell your products are more likely to be able to offer new functionalities or inspiration for a certain product range then you can. They might not return or not even ever visit your website! Relations between the third party grow stronger an stronger by tailor made discounts and offering everything one needs!

Technical adjustments

To work with third party's you often have to comply to their requirements. They do not adjust to you! They are way to large for that. This might result in investing in (new) software or change your internal processes.


Third party's might state in their terms and conditions that they may alter your images (copyright).


So in your e-commerce strategy think about these things and adapt them in your strategy. Focus at things you can distinguish with. For example customer service and customer experience. Give people a reason to shop with you and not with the third party's. Differentiation at price is very difficult to hold in the long run. Find other ways to differentiate. Think of a strategy to get the customers back to your webshop after they first bought with the third party. This is difficult, given all the restrictions, but be creative! There are possibilities.
You might want to think about a short term and long term vision for these kind of e-commerce promotions.

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