Global E-Commerce: What’s Influencing Digital Content Strategy?

welocalize November 18, 2020

The internet is the world’s busiest and noisiest marketplace. It has become busier in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with lockdowns and social distancing creating an increasingly virtual world. Globally, COVID-19 has pushed up internet use by 70% and streaming services by 12%.

Getting products and services to the right target online audience in a virtual sea of sellers and suppliers takes knowledge and some courage. It’s a worthwhile effort though. Global retail e-commerce sales are due to hit $4.9 trillion by 2021 – indicating a 265% growth rate since 2014. With 4.57 billion (60%) of the world’s population online, e-commerce will continue to see solid growth in the years to come, especially with changes in online shopping behaviors due to COVID-19. In China alone, e-commerce accounts for 53% of all digital retail sales.

Global brands are investing heavily in their online presence, combining online and physical sales experiences, and driving digital marketing campaigns to improve the customer journey and ultimately increase sales.

Here are some of the key influencing factors impacting global e-commerce and content strategy:

E-commerce only exists with online digital content 

Retailers now carry between two and 10 times more SKUs/products online than they did in 2009. Products only exist online if the relevant content is available (images, descriptions, reviews, instructional videos, customer support). If content can’t be found, products won’t sell.  

The role of content and linguistic copywriting is crucial for any e-commerce operators. Content is the bridge to online shoppers – it’s what makes an item or service become potential ROI. Prioritization of accurate and relevant digital e-commerce content is key. 

Build and train specialist teams of SME content creators, linguistic copywriters, and translators who can get truly entrenched in the product and customer journey. Case Study: How does leading online design tool Canva support 200+ languages? 

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered consumer behavior potentially for years to come. Government restrictions, social distancing, and one of the deepest global recessions on record have caused a dramatic shift to digital, with consumers moving away from luxury goods and becoming reliant on e-commerce for everyday necessities – online sales of food and household products have seen an average growth of 30% globally.

In the US, it is projected the pandemic will lead to additional $40 billion in online holiday revenue. Pre-pandemic, this level of digital shopping wasn’t expected for another four years. – Digital Commerce 360

Customer Experience (CX) & Multilingual digital marketing

Getting heard online is a challenge and the right global digital marketing strategy is key to gaining competitive advantage. Targeting multiple markets online encompasses a range of skills and activities – each must be adapted to the local language and online shopping habits. According to CSA Research report, Can’t Read, Won’t Buy – B2C, “if a company chooses not to localize the buying experience, they risk losing 40% or more of the total addressable market.”

Activities include website, search activities, PPC, paid and organic social media, content creation, cultural adaption, and programmatic advertising. All these customer touchpoints require knowledge of local markets and channels and must be localized consistently to reach the right audiences and deliver a consistent customer experience.

Read more about creating digital content that performs well across local markets here.


AI will play a key role 

AI is a hot topic and e-commerce is one area that is actively integrating AI into its process. For example, conversational experiences, especially chatbots are now becoming a standard part of an e-commerce toolkit, resulting in increased response rate as well as in the number of “hot leads.”. Use of AI in customer support, a crucial part of the e-commerce flow, is common. Other AI enabled solutions used in e-commerce include augmented marketing analytics, conversion optimization technologies, real-time personalization and intelligent pricing, helping retailers gain a competitive edge by managing and optimizing their pricing and space.

Machine learning can be used to transform unstructured data into high-quality multilingual AI datasets to enable customer support tools, such as chatbots, to reach customers in multiple languages.

Rise in Centrally Managed Content 

Centrally managed content can help better process high volumes of digital content and improve consistency and CX. This is important for improved customer experiences, helping SEO, brand awareness, and consistency of information and terminology. Creating and localizing content centrally can also leverage efficiencies in terms of translation memory, terminology management, and the benefits of machine learning if using language automation technology.

Leverage content and translation management systems to establish a central workflow for content.

Watch our on-demand webinar with Cisco, Automating the Localization Workflow, to learn more about how a central workflow can impact global growth and overcome inefficiencies.


By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales (smart phone and tablets) are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales. And if consumers don’t complete the transaction online using their smartphone or tablet, then they spend time looking up information and reading reviews whilst on the go. Publishing content, in all target languages, that renders on mobile devices is a key component of any e-commerce content strategy.

Put all mobile content and interfaces through rigorous functional and linguistic testing in all locales. 

More Marketplaces 

Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart – the internet is dominated by large marketplaces.There’ll be a further shift to consolidation and reduction of the supply chain (growth of direct-to-click, D2C) and use of marketplaces will increase. This increased use of marketplaces will elevate the role of digital marketing and advertising and the use of more varied content types such as video and animation

To learn more about Welocalize’s multilingual approach to taking content global for e-commerce operations, connect with us here.

For more expert insights on the future of digital marketing and e-commerce, watch now: Adapt Worldwide’s E-Commerce Briefing 2020 – On-Demand Webinar