The Rebirth of Web Globalization

Although the Web globalization industry has been around for half a decade, it is still very much in its infancy. The past few years have been particularly challenging for those executives in charge of global Web sites, as budgets have largely been on life support.

However, this year Web globalization appears to be making a comeback, driven by a rebounding global economy and emerging markets.

I have spoken with a number of executives who tell me that Web globalization is back on the “front burner.” And every week it seems that another American multinational announces signs of “strong growth” abroad. Consider the following:

  • eBay president Meg Whitman recently announced that her company would produce a full-scale Chinese Web site staffed by employees in China. She said she believes that China could eclipse Germany and England and become eBay’s second largest market within 10 to 15 years.
  • Amazon reported that Q1 2004 revenue in the US rose 20 percent to $847 million while revenue from its international stores (United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan) jumped 80 percent to $684 million. At this rate, Amazon could be generating the majority of its revenues from outside the US by the end of 2005.
  • Coca-Cola, which already brings in more than two-thirds of its sales and four-fifths of its profits from overseas markets, is pressing ahead with its global expansion. Management stressed last month that Asia and Europe are the two markets it is most focused on these days.

The United States is a massive but mature market. Companies in search of long-term, double-digit growth have no choice but to pursue emerging markets such as China, India, and Eastern Europe. As a result, Web globalization is becoming an essential piece in the global marketing puzzle.

But even as companies increase their investments in Web globalization, they are doing so with more realistic goals and budgets. Every additional Web site is expected to generate additional revenues but also cut customer support costs. Today, I find that companies are asking fewer questions about building multilingual sites and more questions about how to use translation memory, and content management tools and how to measure return on investment. These are all great questions – and questions I plan to address in the months ahead, with your help.

What are your Web globalization plans?

I am going to be speaking with a number of small and large companies over the next few months about their current and planned Web globalization activities. Every company that participates will receive a free copy of my findings when the report is completed. If you would like to participate in what I believe will be an invaluable survey, please contact me

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