I have always found the expression “the world is your oyster” to be an interesting metaphor for opening up a shop on a Rakuten marketplace. In fact, I certainly hope that it is easier to open a shop than to open an oyster, but when dealing with oysters one needs to pay attention and this is certainly true when it comes to taking your online shop to the world.
Here are a few tips for how to succeed when going global:
1. Get your news from the world. Tap into international sources for information. Don’t be satisfied with the news as it is filtered through your familiar publications. Reach out for new ones and especially ones with global perspective. Learn about the local customs and trends in each market.
2. Look for frameworks across cultures. Often, the best idea for your own business can come from another culture. I was once traveling in Spain, walking through a busy marketplace. I was struck by the colors around me and they inspired me to make changes to the look of my web presence. Stepping outside your own culture can give you tools that will allow you to be more visible globally.
3. Communicate with the world. We encourage merchants in the Rakuten marketplace to write blog posts and communicate directly with their customers. This is to open a communication channel that extends far beyond the shop owners’ front door. By using the Internet, a shop owner can communicate with the world. That communication is what leads to a long-lasting commerce relationship.
4. Give your team a global perspective. Encourage them to benchmark competitors in other countries. Be aware of innovations elsewhere in the world. Learn about what works in other markets and try them at home. At Rakuten we’re taking the best of what we learn from Silicon Valley and the world and are applying it at home in Japan.
5. Create career paths that encourage work abroad. Make it possible – even preferable – for managers to work outside their country of origin. Look for global experience in new hires and make global experience a future goal for current team members. At the cafeteria at our new headquarters, Rakuten employees from dozens of countries around the world sit together at the same tables for lunch. We also encourage our employees to visit and work in offices in other locations.
It is true that technology offers anyone the change to “go” global. But to be successful, you need a global mindset – one that communicates and learns from the global community and one that is open to the idea that the best ideas are yet to be discovered.
The world truly is your oyster, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble with the right tools and technique.
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