June 16, 2011, 4:36 PM

IRCE 2011 Report: How retailers can build and manage a global presence

Dell’s international efforts offer lessons for other retailers with global plans.

Nesli Karakus

Senior Editor, Research

Lead Photo

Dell is a brand known around the world, and there is a reason why. The company has an e-commerce presence in more than 70 countries in 26 languages, along with 160 content-only sites. To manage the expansive international operations, Dell takes a centralized approach with input and adjustments from local regions, Angus Cormie, Dell’s director of e-commerce in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “Dell goes global with language, content, experience and more.”

“We have a central online organization and we have regions that implement locally and we find that that model is working really well right now,” said Cormie.

Retailers should take into account regional differences, Cormie told attendees, adding that Dell has found that certain site features resonate with shoppers from different countries. For instance, in France, shoppers value product comparisons, whereas in Germany, a site’s speed and efficiency is a priority, said Cormie. He also said that in the United Kingdom, customers are twice as likely to read product reviews than do consumers in other countries. In the Netherlands, shoppers are 10% more likely to be shopping with mobile devices, said Cormie.

Cormie said that Dell also has found common dislikes among shoppers from different countries. Shoppers in France and Spain, for instance, dislike it when they can’t contact a retailer with questions. Shoppers in France and Germany are less likely to placed orders with retailers located outside their countries; shoppers in the United Kingdom and Sweden were most likely to shop from retailers located in other countries, said Cormie.

In addition, retailers should also be aware of social buzz originating from different areas, he said. “There are 25,000 conversations a day that mention Dell,” he said. “We have a global listening team. It’s generally managed all very centrally.”

However, retailers should allow staff in local regions the chance to work on what interest them. Cormie said that in Spain, a staff member who is particularly enthusiastic about social media posts on the company’s Facebook page. “He offers a personal element and passion to keep the content updated and fresh.”

Cormie offered these tips for retailers expanding globally:

• Pay attention to language and translations—even, for example, the differences between U.S. and U.K. English.

• Figure out how to share administrative and file sharing capabilities.

• Have a plan to handle payments, including consumer concerns about them.

• Consider how to ship products and accept returns.

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