In the 1980s, only the multinational giants could sell across borders while this was unimaginable for others. Today, brands aren’t restricted by geography. Thanks to globalization and the rapid advent of technology, companies – big or small – can build global brands, reaching the larger addressable market and serving customers across geographies.
The global pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of online shopping among customers, who are looking beyond their local sellers and markets to find brands and products that match their expectations and unique needs. This has only worked to the benefit of brands.
But building international brands and expanding across geographies is a rather challenging process. Brands may get the attention, but they need to nurture trusting relationships with the locals. While keeping your brand voice and personality consistent across geographies, brands need to position products in a way that it connects better with the local audiences. Brands also need to tackle strong competition from local brands with a better grasp of the local culture and nuances.
Brands, when entering markets in different regions, cannot overlook the particularities of the region, the market and the local culture. Else it would be a recipe for failure.
The product catalog doesn’t change in most cases; it is the same products being presented. But the value proposition and presentation need to be localized. This is where geo-optimization of the product catalog is extremely beneficial for brands. In this article, we delve into the concept of geo-optimization of product catalogs, what you lose when you don’t geo-optimize and the best way to geo-optimize your product catalog.
What Does Geo-Optimization of The Product Catalog Mean?
By geo-optimization of the product catalog, do we mean simply translating the catalog, the offers and the website? No, not really. While translating catalogs, websites and offers to the local language are useful, they cannot be the only aspects of geo-optimization.
Geo-optimization of the product catalog is the process of styling a product catalog based on a nuanced understanding of cultural and regional differences, local preferences, lifestyles, expectations and so on. When brands enter international markets, they may have similar product catalogs across all markets, with maybe a few differences in products.
However, that does not mean that the product recommendations, complementary products and product descriptions on their websites and other sales channels should remain the same across countries. They can leverage self-learning AI and analytics to create product catalogs that are more relevant, localized and compelling for customers in different markets.
What Are Brands Losing by Not Geo-Optimizing?
The following are the benefits of geo-optimization of the product catalog. And brands stand to lose these by not geo-optimizing.
One of the key benefits that brands that don’t geo-optimize lose is increased relevance of their product catalogs. When brands understand local preferences, lifestyles, expectations and other nuances, they can create customized rules to present their catalogs in different geographies in the most relevant and compelling way possible.
Let us take the example of the fashion industry. Say a women’s clothing brand, popular in the US market, wants to expand to other geographies. Their product catalog is the same; they aren’t adding any new products to it. Their outfit recommendations, specialized collections, look of the season collections, etc. are popular and have a direct impact on their revenues. However, by providing the same kinds of outfit recommendations and complementary product recommendations to customers in other countries, they stand to lose. Why so?
People dress differently across different countries owing to the differences in climatic conditions, customs and traditions, trends, preferences, cultural differences and so on. For instance, the Russians dress sexy, prefer leather clothing and wear a lot of stilettos and heeled footwear. The Japanese prefer to layer up their clothing and wear more comfortable footwear. The Indians prefer more comfortable clothing and breathable fabrics owing to the climatic conditions.
Geo-optimization of the product catalogs improves relevance for customers in different geographies. They can quickly and effortlessly find products that match their preferences and needs. Brands can curate collections contextually and based on trends, they can hyper-personalize and localize recommendations and so on. And this has a positive impact on the conversions and revenues for brands.
In addition, their catalogs must have different dictionaries for every region, automatic price conversions into the local currency, size conversion tables to reflect the local units of measurement and customized translations for specific categories. This way customers aren’t left guessing sizes, prices, etc.
Reaching Wider Audiences
When product catalogs are styled differently for different geographies with localized references, pricing and tailored recommendations, target audiences in different geographies don’t feel alienated and engaged better with the website/ product content. This way, brands can reach wider audiences, finding their tribe from across the globe.
Rich, Authentic Customer Experiences
By optimizing the content, aesthetics, recommendations, collections and complete styling of the product catalog based on a deep understanding of the regional and cultural differences, brands can craft superior customer experiences that resonate with customers.
For instance, customers in Germany look for lots of details in product descriptions. Customers in Japan look for uses and values the product generates. US customers look for clutter-free designs with concise product content. When product catalogs are styled accordingly, it improves customer experiences.
Not just that, when you get personalization and tailored recommendations right, brands can create positive shopper experiences, better target customers and strengthen customer loyalty. In fact, 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer personalized experiences. By using the right cataloging tools, brands can hyper-personalize at scale, going beyond simplistic, one-size-fits-all recommendations based on gender and age alone.
Improved Brand Perception and Value
When product catalogs are geo-optimized, it shows customers that the brand knows and understands the local culture. It removes the sense of alienation that one-size-fits-all catalogs, recommendations and collections bring. Customers trust and connect with such brands better. So, geo-optimization strengthens brand perception and brand value while expanding to different parts of the world.
Improved Competitiveness Vis-A-Vis Local Brands
One of the biggest trends in recent years has been the increased appreciation of the local economy and local brands by customers. Customers have a greater understanding of the impact local brands, especially the smaller ones, have on lives and livelihoods in their towns and cities. So, a growing number of them are shifting to buying local. So, global brands lose ground in the branding, sales and ROIs.
Further, local brands also have the advantage of getting the local context better. To have improved competitiveness vis-à-vis local brands, global brands must geo-optimize. It shows that the brand understands and respects the particularities of the region and culture and that it is not imposing the lifestyles and rules of other regions.
A Sea of New Opportunities
When fashion brands understand these nuances and accordingly, customize and optimize their catalog, they can boost conversions and revenues. Brands can convert window shoppers into paying customers, they can upsell, cross-sell and increase average lifetime value while creating a solid footing in the local market. Overall, brands, regardless of their geographic location, can make the most of globalization and the shift to online shopping.
How To Best Geo-Optimizing the Product Catalog?
Streamoid offers AI-powered, end-to-end cataloging and AI-powered outfit recommendation solutions, purpose-built for the fashion industry, that empower fashion brands to effortlessly geo-optimize their product catalogs.
The cataloging solution, Catalogix, helps brands to convert their fashion images into fully optimized product catalogs with deep intelligent tags, rich product descriptions and SEO-optimized titles. The product catalogs can be syndicated to multiple marketplaces and sales channels and centrally managed. It is super-easy to add new channels, with fewer marketplace rejections and accelerated speed to market of product catalogs. Brands can create multiple versions of the same product catalog for different customer personas and different platforms, without expending large amounts of money or hiring new content and marketplace specialists. Catalogs and the entire spectrum of product content can be translated into multiple languages with just a few clicks and the pricing, measurements, sizing, etc. can be converted to match different regional requirements. It assures the highest levels of accuracy.
The AI-powered outfit recommendation solution enables brands to automate outfit recommendation, keeping in mind their regional preferences. It is built using the deep domain knowledge and intelligence of world-class stylists and is programmed with 60,000+ styling rules. While curating outfits, this tool considers 2300+ relevant data points including colour palettes, brand style, product attributes, current trends and so on. For instance, outfits specific to Japan would include more relaxed fits, whereas outfits specific to Russia would be focused on heavy outerwear due to the differences in the sense of style and weather. This is a simple example of how there would be different rules specific to the geographic locations. Backed by self-learning AI, it only understands what good fashion is but keeps learning and improving over time. Using this tool, fashion brands can effortlessly style their product catalogs differently for each region they operate in.
Yes, globalization has affected local cultures, but has in no way led to the standardization of cultures, traditions and customs. So, brands cannot just push products into other countries and expect to rake in huge revenues. To boost their business outcomes in other regions and countries, brands must geo-optimize their catalogs.
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