With over 60% of the world’s population being attributed to emerging markets, it’s critical to not only be aware of their tendencies, but also their online tendencies. FlightHub is one of North America’s top online travel agencies and they are keenly aware of emerging markets as an e-commerce company looking to expand their consumer base. FlightHub CEO Matt Keezer believes that being first in new markets can come to define your success saying “emerging markets are an opportunity to scale your business at a breakneck pace,” adding “there will always be a ceiling to what you can do if you don’t look at new markets.”
One way FlightHub examined the opportunities that lie in emerging markets was by doing a thorough study of social media platforms in these locales. While Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the current standards of social media in most of the developed world, this is not the case in other countries. China, for example, prefers QQ. QQ was founded sixteen years ago and offers instant messaging, social gaming, music, shopping, blogging, and group chats to its 829 million active users. Likewise, VKontakte is the platform of choice in Russia. Based in St. Petersburg, VK has an average of 71 million daily active users, making it the 8th most popular social network in the world.
In addition to learning about potential users’ online social habits, FlightHub reviews the state of tech is in these countries. What they found was that it was completely necessary to design region-specific sites and make more efficient mobile sites that are simple to use on lower quality connections and wireless networks. It is also incredibly important to deliver content in the correct language.
Lastly, FlightHub looked at conversion. Methods of payment vary around the world. While in Canada there is an ATM on seemingly every corner, a country like Japan has surprisingly limited ATM access. This discrepancy is amplified in the developing countries as payment processors and providers struggle to also fill the growing need for more advanced methods of payment. One way around this that FlightHub looked at was to partner up with local payment processors or using services like Groupon to incentivize potential customers to buy virtual coupons.
It is of the utmost importance to make sure your business is doing everything it can to inject itself into emerging markets. FlightHub took the time to study not just the opportunity, but the customer base to weigh the pros and cons of entering specific markets. At the end of the day, for any company looking for global success, it is imperative that they take a long hard look at markets beyond their comfort zone before their competition does. “All you are doing is narrowing your consumer base by taking a backseat on investigating emerging markets,” says Keezer, adding “if you are good enough to stay successful in the online realm for the long term, you will need to be ready to handle the changing landscape of e-commerce.”