Doing it all online? It’s second nature to us here

There’s a lot of evidence to show that the UK is ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to online commerce. As consumers, we’re far more likely to be buying stuff online than almost every other country in the world, including the USA. We take so much of this for granted that it’s easy to forget the implications.

Firstly, there are the sales opportunities abroad. If you’re a UK company, in charge of your own destiny, and have products which can be bought online and shipped overseas, then you really should be investing heavily in that. Advertising in highly targeted areas is easy: set up a Norwegian webstore and a Google AdWords campaign to run in Norway, and off you go.

Even if your products aren’t suitable for selling directly from an online store, don’t underestimate how successful your website, translated, could be overseas. Take a look at the websites of major domestic suppliers in many countries (including elsewhere in the EU) and you’ll often see the sort of site you’d have been embarrassed about in 2006. We’ve been driven so much here to keep up with our competitors that we forget how far ahead of the field we sometimes are.

This will be of little interest, of course, to those of you who work for the UK office of a multinational company headquartered elsewhere. But in turn, you shouldn’t underestimate what you know about online marketing. We have many clients whose worldwide websites are managed at the head office in Germany, Italy, Japan or wherever, and in almost every case, the websites are terrible. And they’re terrible not because the head office has a policy of making things terrible, but because it’s still “good enough” in their country.

In most cases I suspect the UK office just keeps quiet and gets on with things as best it can. However, we tend to be involved with the type of company which is more proactive and is trying to make things happen. That’s why they’re using us in the first place. And I’ve often heard from them that “we can’t have Google Analytics” (or remarketing code, or a webstore, or whatever) because the head office “won’t allow it”. But it turns out not to be the case that they won’t allow it, but that they don’t even know what it is, and need to be sold the concept. And at that point, the UK office becomes the trailblazer which drags the whole organisation into the world which so many companies here just take for granted.

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