By Demandware

International expansion gives brands incredible opportunities to reach and engage with new customers, but there are also a number of challenges associated with it that cannot be overlooked. And perhaps the biggest challenge is maintaining your brand DNA while accommodating local culture, customs and language. So how can you do this?

At IRCE 2014, Demandware’s VP of Industry Strategy and Insights Rob Garf, along with CLARINS’ Han Wen, talked about ways to maintain brand identity, regardless of the market. Rob highlighted the importance of balance between scale and efficiency and giving the local organization autonomy to deliver relevance to the market.

And Han illustrated just how important this balance is by sharing a case study around CLARINS’ expansion into China with Demandware. She highlighted three main challenges the company faced:

  1. Localize the brand. Ensuring the brand translates accurately into each market, while maintaining a consistent brand experience worldwide.
  2. Find the right back-end partners. Look to overarching business goals and find partners that will help meet them.
  3. Organizational structure. Revisit the organizational structure to ensure success on a local scale. In most cases, this means having boots on the ground to help translate the brand.

This all culminates in one key takeaway: leveraging local talent. With the right people in place, there are a number of mistakes that can be prevented because the local talent understands the business. They can help deliver a retailer’s brand DNA in a manner that complies with the local culture and market demands. And that can make a big impact.

In fact, with Demandware, CLARINS was able to successfully expand into the Chinese market, seeing 500% growth in just six months after the site launch. The brand also saw 31% of order value come from cities where there is no physical counter.

Are you thinking of going global? Think carefully about your business goals and revisit Han’s list of challenges for CLARINS’ expansion in to China.