Grow Your Brand Globally Online
For beauty products retailer Estee Lauder, the constraints on luxury spending in the United States brought on by the recession forced it to rethink its growth strategy. With a tightening domestic market, the high-end brand looked across the Atlantic for revenue opportunities. In particular, e-commerce was targeted as the vehicle for this global expansion.
With a presence in over 140 countries (over 200 websites in 40 countries) and sales outside the U.S. accounting for 60 percent of the company's $8 billion in annual sales, it's safe to say that Estee Lauder has accomplished its goal. In a keynote presentation at last week's Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, Dennis McEniry, president of Estee Lauder's online division, discussed how the company did it.
Get it right at home first
Before looking to sell overseas, get your e-commerce model right in your home country first, McEniry said. Estee Lauder operated an e-commerce site in the United States for nine years before launching its next site in the United Kingdom. And then it waited two more years before rolling out any other sites in Europe.
You have to understand the local market — consumers’ needs, regulatory issues, category mix, pricing, taxes, etc. — then you can look regionally and eventually globally. One size doesn't fit all, McEniry said.
International growth of mobile
One thing Estee Lauder has learned in the course of its research of international markets is that mobile commerce is exploding, particularly in Japan. In fact, mobile penetration is outgrowing the rate of PC-based sites, said McEniry. Mobile devices and technology differ from country to country, so you must understand the local market's technology when developing your mobile sites.
The same line of thinking applies to your international search and social media strategies. For example, be aware of the restrictions on Google if you're planning on selling in China, McEniry warned. In the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China), Facebook and Twitter aren't the big social media players.