Remember the “4 Ps” of marketing?
By most accounts, those are dead. They’ve been replaced by another quartet: the “4 Cs.”
The fact that modern sales principles have drastically evolved over the past decade is logical. Without diving into clichés, suffice it to say that the exponential democratisation of technology has fundamentally changed the way we think about, and eventually make, purchases.
The rise of ecommerce as the fastest-growing retail channel is unsurprising (and, given the “borderless” nature of ecommerce platforms, it’s just as unsurprising that going multilingual is becoming a crucial step for e-merchants); it’s also completely upending traditional notions about marketing.
Build-it-yourself ecommerce CMS platforms have facilitated not only the cross-border buying process, but also the entire enterprise of setting up an international store.
Squarespace is one of the most prominent success stories in this area: while their core mission is to allow anyone to set up a beautiful website from their own living room, they have more recently forayed into the sales jungle. According to ZoomInfo’s Datanyze analytics platform, Squarespace is now the second-most-used ecommerce CMS in the top 1 million sites on the Web, second only to WordPress’s WooCommerce.
Squarespace has a bright future in ecommerce, and if you’re already a fan of these DIY website moguls, you can be pretty sure that jumping on that bandwagon will be profitable. But once you’ve decided to open your Squarespace ecommerce store, how can you be sure that you and your products will stand out…from all the other Squarespace stores? (Or, simply, all the e-stores out there on every platform?)
This is where the 4 Ps (which, we have convened, are fairly dead) and their successors, the 4 Cs, come into play.
General marketing principles, like these, apply to Squarespace ecommerce, for sure; but there are certain nuances of the Squarespace ecosystem that are worth taking into account when marketing your products. And if you really want to take your Squarespace ecommerce sales to the next level—say, by going global and selling internationally—the 4 Cs will still apply, but with a few extra considerations.
Ready for a quick time-machine trip back to Marketing 101, Squarespace style? Let’s get moving.
Recap: What are the 4 Ps?
Philip Kotler, the self-proclaimed “Father of Modern Marketing,” hit the jackpot when he released Principles of Marketing in 1999; one of the concepts he included was the “4 P’s” schema, originally conceived by Jerome McCarthy—kind of the “Grandfather of Modern Marketing” to Kotler’s “Father” figure.
For those who have ever taken even a basics course in marketing or business development, you’ve almost definitely had them drilled into your brain; so bear with us, for the sake of those who haven’t, as we go through them…precipitously.
- Product: It’s pretty self-explanatory. The thing you’re trying to sell. (It might be a service, too.)
- Placement: This one’s less self-explanatory, and might be part of the reason the 4 P’s are on their way to extinction. “Placement” essentially refers to how a consumer comes into contact with a product, and this concept has become a lot more complicated as the ways in which we shop have evolved with technology.
- Price: While the price is self-explanatory in theory, in practice, it’s often less so; price is essentially the deciding factor for most purchases, and pricing is an inherently precarious balancing act.
The difficulty of naming a final price hasn’t changed much since McCarthy’s introduction of the 4 Ps, but the factors that influence it certainly have.
- Promotion: “Promotion” may be the “P” that sounds the most old-school salesy—and let’s face it, no one wants their ad copy or boilerplate to sound like a used-car salesman’s pitch in 2019. The notion of “promotion,” as we’ll see in the next section, has evolved to center more on communication with the consumer rather than product evangelization, as was often the M.O. in the past.
There you have it: McCarthy’s 4 Ps, and even Kotler’s slightly updated version (well, updated in….the early 2000s) are somewhat outdated.
A bit more recently, another marketing professor-guru, Bob Lauterborn, proposed a counter-idea to the traditional Ps: the “4 Cs” for a more customer-centric approach to marketing. If you don’t already know them by heart, no need to fret: we’re going to go over each one as it applies to Squarespace stores—and, particularly, Squarespace stores with international sales ambitions.
1. The Customer.
We mentioned that the 4 Cs were intended to be customer-centric, and we weren’t kidding. Remember that old diatribe about the customer always being right? Today, it’s closer to the truth than ever before: the customer is, at least, perpetually better-informed than they were yesterday.
Put mobile first.
Handheld tech has made it possible for upwards of two-thirds of consumers to look up product details on their phones while in a brick-and-mortar store, even before asking a sales associate for info. Online shops—even if they aren’t necessarily where all contemporary consumers buy their products—are absolutely key to any consumer journey, and making sure an online shop is mobile-optimized is just as important as having one in the first place.
Squarespace sites are mobile-ready from the outset, since all Squarespace templates come with built-in mobile optimization. This saves you a ton of work in making sure your clients have multi-device access to your store.
Brazilian healthy/beauty guru and lifestyle-oriented chef, Mafalda Pinto Leite, has mastered the art of the mobile conversion. Her beauty products, which she sells on her blog-slash-website, MPL, are listed with professional-looking photos, and her Squarespace template ensures that the “wow” effect of these photos isn’t lost on a small mobile screen. The product alignment adjusts to screen size, so that every detail of Mafalda’s carefully-printed packaging is still visible, even on an iPhone.
2. The Cost.
While McCarthy’s notion of the price of a product or service was pretty basic, marketing logic has since evolved to take on a somewhat deeper notion of what the customer pays in exchange for what they get.
Let’s be honest: in a world where instant is normal, losing five minutes because of a slow check-out page is likely to feel just as burdensome to a shopper as having to pay 5€ extra for shipping—and, as in the latter case, may be enough to send that shopper packing, and looking elsewhere to buy.
In short, you need to take into account all of the possible pain points your customer could potentially encounter on his/her purchasing journey, and eliminate them; only then will the opportunity cost of buying your product over a competitor’s be as low as humanly possible.
Don’t make your clients pay to pay.
One of the big advantages of using Squarespace as an ecommerce CMS is its full integration with several widely-used payment platforms, including Stripe and PayPal.
One thing you’ll want to double-check before launching your Squarespace store onto the global market is if your target market’s local currency is supported by Squarespace. Stripe and PayPal collectively support most of the world’s active currencies, but, when integrated into Squarespace stores, are limited to the 20 currencies listed here, on Squarespace’s official FAQ.
Users of any of these currencies will have a seamless purchase process on your store, regardless of what principal currency you decide to create your store in. Of course, your principal (“store”) currency is the default currency that will be shown on product descriptions and other payment-related widgets on your site, so you’ll want to think carefully before choosing it: it should be the currency that you get, or expect to get, the greatest portion of your orders in.
That being said, the 20-currency limit only means that users of other currencies will be charged minor conversion fees at checkout. Overall, Squarespace’s fairly wide currency coverage makes it a solid option for opening an international online boutique.
3. Your Communication.
As we remarked upon earlier, you’ve not only got every other Squarespace-hosted store to compete with, but the entire web’s worth of sellers in your product category.
This is where you’ll have to put your copywriting hat on: in order to convert your customers’ clicks into actual purchases, you need to catch them on your product pages or online forms—and keep them subsequently on your site, until they’ve hit “complete transaction” at the bottom of their “cart” page.
Describe with diligence.
Whether you’re selling soap, shoes, or software, you’re going to have other competitors online—whose products likely at least somewhat resemble yours. Only by writing a killer product description will you be able to distinguish your stock from theirs.
…And, in the case of a multilingual store, make sure your product description translations are on point.
Mafalda of MPL gets another point in this category: not only is her product imagery perfectly adapted to all screen sizes, but her product descriptions are perfectly adapted to all of her potential linguistic audiences. Right down to the ingredients lists—which, for Mafalda’s organic beauty and health products, is a priority portion of the description for her potential buyers.
Keep your branding consistent.
Squarespace templates make it easy to choose a global site aesthetic and stick with it—in fact, one of the first options under your “design” settings is to upload a site-wide logo image:
Of course, as helpful as it is to have your number-one brand asset readily available for display on any page, it will undoubtedly come off as a bit lazy if you go about slapping your logo everywhere without maintaining a close eye on other, more subtle aspects of your site’s visual identity—such as your color palette, icon styles, product photography style, and even the tone of voice you use in your copy.
Let’s think about this in our particular context of interest: multilingual ecommerce stores on Squarespace. What specific decisions might a multilingual brand have to make in order to stay on top of their markets?
Branding is somewhat of an art, so there is quite literally an infinite number of possible approaches to it. And sometimes, as is often the case with art, thinking outside the box—going for a more unorthodox approach—can pay off.
Take French furniture and marble-fixture artisan Objets Architecturaux, for one. While their Squarespace-hosted online store is resolutely multilingual—their site seamlessly transitions from French to English with only the click of a button—they’ve decided to use the same names for their pieces regardless of the browser’s language.
Their luxury marble “Lavabo” is a perfect example of this: even though “lavabo” generally translates into something along the lines of “bathroom sink” in English, Objets Architecturaux stays true to their French roots in maintaining the name “Lavabo” as a proper noun, and the official name of their signature lavabo piece.
You might be tempted to ask yourself: doesn’t this kind of defeat the purpose of making their site multilingual, though?
And, paradoxically enough, the answer is most likely: no, au contraire. Objets Architecturaux’s client base may be international and bilingual, but their brand is inherently French. Ultimately, keeping their object names in their original language exudes authenticity—something that can be a real asset for a brand, especially one trying to convey the hand-made, artful quality of their products.
Internationalize your imagery (or avoid having to do so).
Going multilingual on Squarespace implies that you’re trying to make your content accessible and attractive to people from different cultures, who speak different languages. You’ll want to take into account all the details of your site—including visuals—when adapting it for readability.
Among other things that they’re doing well, Style of Zug, a Swiss luxury writing goods company, took the time to ensure that their cover imagery is adapted to the language their site visitor chooses.
The banner image text, “New Stylish Montblanc Pen Pouches” in English, is not actually part of the image—it’s a separate element that’s been superimposed onto the background banner image (Squarespace makes it really easy to put titles over images).
This is, all in all, the best practice for multilingual sites—even though apps like Weglot give you the possibility to change your images for different language versions of your site, it’s easier for you and more coherent for your branding to keep your images consistent (and text-free) and translate the associated text as accurately as possible.
Not so far removed from our second “C,” the overall cost, convenience plays into a customer’s ease of access to your store and products.
Convenience should be in the DNA of any multilingual store: after all, going multilingual is essentially a step towards making your site more accessible to more users.
Here are a few ways you can further reduce the pain points of your worldwide shoppers, lowering the cost they cover for convenience.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes (or…handbags).
New York-based vegan leather goods & fashion brand FruitenVeg’s site is live proof of how easy it can be to streamline your customer’s buying process with a few heuristic assumptions. Their default currency is the US Dollar (USD), and their site’s main language is English; this makes sense, since most US customers are probably browsing in English.
However, FruitenVeg also has their site in Japanese—and, accordingly, allows Japanese-language users to view prices in Japanese yen (JPY).
Speed it up.
Remember what we said earlier about price no longer being the only major pain point in an online shopping operation? In a world where Amazon can deliver you a T-shirt or pair of sneakers you saw on Instagram within the hour, speed is pretty much a prerequisite for doing decent online business.
Having a multilingual store can, if executed haphazardly, severely slow down your site response time—that is, if you have tons of pages in double, triple, or more copies (depending on how many languages you have your site available in) under subfolders. The more pages your site contains, the slower it becomes.
This is where setting up your multilingual store via separate subdomains for each language becomes an interesting option. Not only will this be better for your store’s SEO (slower sites rank more poorly, while faster sites skyrocket on search engines), but it will also simply improve your buyers’ experience, reducing their wait time and demonstrating your professionalism as a savvy online entrepreneur.
Certain third-party translation apps, like Weglot, can give your Squarespace store all the benefits of speed by setting up these individual-language subdomains for you.
Now it’s time to sell, vendre, vender, verkaufen.
Squarespace does a lot of the heavy lifting for you in setting up an online ecommerce store, and provides an incredibly user-friendly interface for managing your sales.
This doesn’t mean, nevertheless, that you can overlook the details and dilemmas of your marketing strategy; a CMS like Squarespace can make selling your goods easier, but it can’t actually make them more appetizing to clients—you’re still the salesperson behind the screen (or, if you will, the “square”).
You’ve got great products to market, and with the right tools—like Squarespace and Weglot, which work quite flawlessly together—your own iteration of tried-and-true marketing principles will be ever the more innovative.