Posts Tagged ‘local responsiveness’

Has Amazon caught the forward integration bug?

December 8, 2009

Every time I think I’m done with this vertical integration obsession another example pops up.

Rumours are flying around the news sites that the giant of online retailing Amazon might be bringing a portion of its delivery process back in-house.

They are reportedly considering opening old school bricks-and-mortar shop fronts in the UK where buyers can pop past to pick up their purchases.

This would represent a substantial shift in the business model of the firm, and also a convergence back with various other high street retailers (most notably in the UK Argos) who also have a strong online presence.

It is also an interesting example of adaptation to the quirks of infrastructure and custom from location to location. Parcel deliveries may be less practical in the UK given different living arrangements, and customers are more densely situated meaning such distribution points could be viable.

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A quick example of local adaptation

November 16, 2009

It’s always fun to find examples of multinationals adapting their products for host markets. Such adaptation (a.k.a. local responsiveness) is one of the key choices such firms face (along with decisions regarding the extent to which resources and activities will be shared/integrated)

The recent 40th birthday of Sesame Street reminded me of their expansion efforts. Actually, Google’s adapted logos showcasing the very familiar characters alerted to me the anniversary.

The list of logos Google used is indicative of the adaptativeness of the Sesame Street creators (once known as the Children’s Television Workshop – now called Sesame Workshop). There were different Muppets featured on Google’s page in Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, India, South Africa and Mexico.

boobmah chamki Google logo Galli Galli Sim SimIndia’s character’s (above) include Boombah, “a hedonistic, vegetarian lion who believes he is descended from one of India’s historic royal families” and Chamki, “a schoolgirl dressed in the uniform of an Indian government school [who] is the only Sesame Muppet to practice a martial art”. The show is called Galli Galli Sim Sim on the subcontinent, and is predominantly in Hindi.

It isn’t surprising that a company targeting children has made such substantial alterations to meet the needs of overseas markets. Making the show understandable (i.e. in a local language) and relevant (reflecting these kids’ experiences) is the only way the show would achieve its aims (it is worth noting the firm here is a not-for-profit). But I like it because its a fun example.

Oh, and of course, we shouldn’t ignore that Google also adapts its interface for host country audiences…

Any other quirky examples out there?

Missing the mark

February 13, 2009

There was an intriguing mia culpa this week from the boss of British multinational retailer Marks and Spencer. Sir Stuart Rose acknowledged that his firm had make some “basic shopkeeping” mistakes at their first store on the Chinese mainland:

Sir Stuart admitted that the company had misunderstood the local market, assuming that M&S expertise in Hong Kong would translate to the mainland. Shanghai clothing sizes were based on Hong Kong sizing, but the smaller sizes rapidly sold out, he said.

This is yet another reminder of one the fundamental challenges of internationalisation – the need to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of new markets.

It is astounding that a firm which operates in 37 countries could still fall for such a trap…