Touted as an international business success story, Walmart’s growth over the past two decades warrants closer examination as to what works and what doesn’t in overseas business. Currently the retail giant operates under 69 different global brands, reports Retail Traffic. So while in Brazil shoppers go to Todo Dia, in the United Kingdom it’s ASDA, and in Japan it’s Seiyu. The recent acquisition of Massmart, a South Africa-based chain, now has Walmart moving into the African market with Massmart’s 288 stores in 12 different countries.
The name changes are just one of the ways that Walmart has adjusted to local markets, where the key to success is adapting to the local culture, customs and style of retail. Walmart International has at least nine different store formats they use worldwide which include clothing only stores, supercenters, business-to-business wholesalers and smaller convenience-like stores. By adjusting its store types, the company has been able to tap into local shopping patterns, taking the lessons learned in one country to the next.
Effective adaptation to local markets can also be said of Costco’s moves into Mexico, the UK, and Japan, or Britain-based Tesco’s success throughout Asia where it had a growth rate of 18 percent in 2011 (compared to 5.6 percent in Europe). More and more retailers are finding the benefits of gaining footholds in Asian markets — definitely a trend to follow if you are considering global expansion.
While factors like store types or location choices (consider Target’s decisions as it prepares to open at least 125 stores in Canada in 2013) are important for international business, another key component is smart language translation. From marketing messages localized for your new markets to employee training (including multimedia localization) and even social media monitoring, work with a trusted translation agency to make sure that your company connects your new customers and employees in the best way possible. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression when expanding your business overseas.
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