Driving Growth and Expansion With Digital Business
It has been quite a world-changing year for business. As the pandemic pushed most of the world indoors, businesses have expedited their digital transformation efforts, moving their operations, and most if not all of their business online in an effort to ensure continuity.
According to Nick Winkler of Shopify, the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in commerce. Winkler noted that the global slowdown due to the pandemic has emphasized the importance of the tech industry as a driver of growth and a shaper of the future. This includes the “explosive growth” of collaborative tools in the accelerated evolution of the workspace.
Digital transformation is not only seen in the internal operations of businesses but also on the consumer-facing side of things. Companies have evolved to address the physical limitations imposed by the threat of the pandemic and also to meet new demands from consumers.
As a result, restaurants transform from primarily dine-in establishments to 100% take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery-only operations, now utilizing disruptive services such as Uber Eats and Doordash as part of their operations infrastructure. Brick-and-mortar stores migrate to e-commerce platforms to continue selling anything from groceries to clothes and toys, allowing them to reach new, global markets and utilizing a digital-focused, international marketing strategy to amplify their brand with the help of local marketing professionals and translation services in order to resonate with international audiences.
What had previously been a disruptor-disrupted competitive relationship has now evolved into a symbiotic ecosystem where traditional businesses have transitioned to semi- or fully-digital operations. In a move towards more resilient business strategies, disruptive technologies are no longer “disruptive” but are now considered essential in the new normal.
New challenges, new opportunities
Although digital transformation may seem daunting considering the time, money, and effort that will be spent especially in an accelerated setting such as during a pandemic, businesses soon realized that their digitalization strategies actually present new opportunities for growth and expansion.
Despite the global economy having a downward trend for the year albeit slowly recuperating from the disruption of the pandemic, certain industries have actually thrived and are expected to continue doing so post-COVID-19. One of the industries that have recorded a massive increase in growth is e-commerce and supporting industries like shipping and logistics.
According to IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated the consumer shift from physical store shopping to online shopping with e-commerce projected to grow by 20% by the end of the year. It is said that this growth has accelerated the growth of e-commerce by five years.
Large retailers like Walmart and Target that have invested early in e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment have boosted their revenue despite limited foot traffic in their physical stores. Walmart reported a 97% growth in its second-quarter e-commerce earnings while Target’s sales from same-day fulfillment services grew a record 273% in the same period. And as consumers begin to realize the convenience and efficiency of e-commerce, this accelerated growth will only carry over to the next year.
International business marketing and agile expansion
Another advantage of digital businesses over their physical counterparts is the ability to expand faster and cheaper. And during an economic downturn, it could even be beneficial for businesses to expand to new markets. This may sound counterintuitive, but according to an article in the Harvard Business Review by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, expanding to new markets has its part to play in generating resilience and growth even in times of volatility.
Kim and Mauborgne’s article talks of two growth strategies: a red ocean strategy and a blue ocean strategy. The former is a market-competing strategy that focuses on overtaking competitors in existing markets while the latter focuses on generating new markets. When it comes to building a resilient business, the blue ocean strategy provides businesses with an edge over competitors by expanding to markets with less saturation.
Usually, when businesses think of economically disruptive events, the instinct is to cut down on cost in an effort to build enough reserves to outlast these events. However, what the blue ocean strategy suggests is that creating a resilient business strategy coupled with an international business marketing strategy should not design for mere survival during an economic downturn but for thriving in spite of it.
Opening new markets through an international marketing strategy
Digital business and e-commerce allow entrepreneurs to expand not only within a specific locale or country but globally as well, without requiring high upkeep and a physical store presence in each locality. Digital expansion, enabled with an international marketing strategy, is cost-effective, agile, and highly scalable, opening up new markets for businesses and in turn allowing them to secure demand for their products and services in less saturated markets.
According to a report on digital globalization from management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, digital platforms have effectively brought down the cost of international business, making regional markets more interconnected than ever. The report also notes that small businesses are becoming “micro-multinationals” thanks to the Internet and the various online platforms which allows them to reach new markets with relative ease.
And because of this continued globalization of the digital economy, businesses from emerging economies have capitalized on the newfound opportunity to stand in near-equal footing as larger competitors in established economies in terms of potential reach. This means that businesses have veered their focus away from finding potential brick-and-mortar locations and hiring local teams, towards utilizing translation services and local marketing agencies to spread brand awareness on social media and other digital channels.
Translation services and an effective international marketing strategy
As people continue to rely heavily on the Internet to purchase goods and services, learn, find work and build networks, businesses have to capitalize on this time spent online. Digital expansion to new markets can only be successful if it is complemented by an effective international marketing strategy.
Expanding to a new market does not instantly guarantee success. Brand resonance is one of the challenges that businesses face when expanding to other countries. To be able to tap into international markets effectively, the business and its marketing strategy should be tweaked in a way that it resonates with the population or target audience usually with the assistance of translation services to accurately convert the message from one language to another.
It is hard to come back from a failed introduction between a brand and a new market. The success of a brand hinges on consumer trust and if first impressions are poor and are lost in translation, it’s difficult to get back in the target market’s good graces.
A great international marketing strategy is able to communicate the brand’s message and relates it to the target market’s culture, values, and sensibilities. This requires extensive market research and using the data to craft an impactful marketing campaign push that’s accurately translated and localized to fit a particular country or locale. Companies should consider working with local marketers and translation services to help with crafting an effective marketing campaign while still keeping the brand’s core message intact and relatable.
Digital transformation offers considerable opportunities for growth for businesses while effectively lowering upkeep. However, despite the ease and lessened physical hurdles to doing business internationally, entrepreneurs need to bear in mind that expanding to other markets would only be lucrative with a careful evaluation of market variables that dictate the viability of expansion.