The Oban Blog

Skyline of Shanghai at Night

The global digital marketing weekly: Thursday 28 August 2014

With the news spilling over into a week squeezed by a British bank holiday weekend, we bring you the global digital marketing weekly for all the latest updates on the online world. This week: Amazon trailblazes into China’s Shanghai free-trade zone; several fantastic articles on the challenges of moving brands and hiring people in new markets; a closer look at Baidu’s surprise foray into Brazil; and multiple language per session support added to the Google’s search app.

Amazon plans Chinese expansion in Shanghai free-trade zone

Last September, the Chinese government established a 29 square kilometre (11 square miles) section of Shanghai as the first free trade zone in mainland China – a testing ground for economic, social reforms and international engagement. Exemptions from duty and customs clearance, as well as simplified procedures and lower costs for foreign companies establishing themselves in China make the Shanghai Free Trade Zone particularly attractive as a base for multinationals.

Amazon has announced that it will be establishing a presence in the Shanghai FTZ to sell a wider range of products. Amazon already operates in China, but taxes and import restrictions have kept it uncompetitive with local giants Alibaba and Amazon’s goals in China are likely to extend beyond its ecommerce offering – they’re already pushing their cloud computing services in China and part of their memorandum of cooperation involves helping local small and medium-sized enterprises export their products internationally.

Clothes rail

A week for good articles on cross cultural brand optimisation

Oban’s own pitch hinges on an understanding of the cultural dimensions that are barriers to business in international markets, so we’re always keen to pass on articles dealing with the area. This week we’ve a double helping.

Philip Rooke of apparel personalisation service Spreadshirt has an interesting write-up over at Econsultancy, highlighting the stumbling blocks they’ve encountered in multiple territories. It covers delisting countries with rampant fraud and delivery problems and dealing with local tax and business rules. It also talks about using social media, alongside traffic and shipped orders, to create and identify demand in new markets.

Similarly, Sourcing Journal Online takes a closer look at Chinese shopping trends. Though market research shows that far more Chinese consumers “love or enjoy clothes shopping” than western counterparts, retailers still have to be mindful of lower average incomes, differences in venue (malls are preferred over the high street) and a lack of affordable retail leases.

Searchmetrics’ Tom Schuster on how to hire talent internationally

While we’re on the subject of starting out in new territories, Search Engine Journal has an interview with Searchmetrics’ Tom Schuster on hiring top international talent. Though they’re presumably coming from the perspective of the search industry, the points are essentially universal.

Schuster recommends anticipating cultural differences in each market, but expecting the same fundamental needs. Headhunters are recommended in order to find embedded talent, along with writing up a prioritised list of qualities to help narrow down the ideal candidate. Schuster observes that knowing what you’re looking for is essential to hiring good talent. He also stresses that your own reputation is an invaluable recruitment tool.

Baidu Portuguese August 2014

Why did Baidu expand into Brazil?

China’s biggest search engine, Baidu, recently announced that it was launching a Portuguese language version of its service. Search Engine Journal has an interesting analysis of exactly why this is a great idea: on the face of it, Brazil is a country dominated by Google (98 percent market share) and Baidu is in trouble at home thanks to Qihoo 360 gains. However, a combination of low internet penetration, economic development parity and the popularity of mobile devices make Brazil a closer match to China and to Baidu’s own technological strengths than many other markets.

Google voice search now supports language switching

Google has announced that the Android Search App will now allow users to easily switch back and forth between up to five languages in any one “speaking session”. Multilingual users will want to set themselves up for voice recognition in all languages they speak by going to:

Search & Now > Voice > Languages

Note however that you will need to stick with one language per sentence.

To keep up-to-date with the latest international digital marketing news, sign up to Oban’s newsletter, Trendspotter. Alternatively contact Oban on +44(0)1273 704 434 or email [email protected] for advice on how we can help leverage your global online presence.

Pudong, Shanghai image by Flickr user Dimitry B.
Clothes rack image by Flickr user Roberto Trm