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Webinar- Digital Internationalization with Claudia Marino

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On 29 March 2021, a meeting was held with the Marketing Manager and Founder of Dracteam Technology LCC, Claudia Marino. This company deals with Digital Integration, in other words, they bring together technological skills, the ability to devise communication strategies and combine everything with design. In fact, a communication project and a technological project must be conceived at the usual time and develop in parallel.

Claudia’s webinar opens with a question: what is digital internationalization? This word indicates all those processes that give our business the opportunity to make itself known abroad through digital means of communication (e.g. website, social network, sponsorship campaigns, etc.).

Through this, we can save on costs, because only by using these means we can understand the market’s interest in our products, for example before setting up your business completely abroad. This helps us a lot in the foreign market to reach distant customers.

At the base of digital internationalization there is digitalization, which can be defined as: “use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new opportunities for income and value production, digitalization is the process of changing of a company to digital”.

The Anglo-Saxon concept of digitization is divided into three steps:

  • Digitization: the step where I use a digital marketing tool to increase efficiency and decrease costs.
  • Digitalization: the step where I apply new processes in the company to improve the business.
  • Digital Transformation: the step where there is a real change in the corporate culture. In this case, each person, the company itself, each employee absorb this concept and carry on the transformation.

An important point to understand is that e-commerce is not the solution to all the sales problems of a company, it must be a part of a strategy and will only be an axis of the whole process, not the goal.

During the meeting, Claudia shows us the report of Casaleggio Associati 2020, from the graphs we can see how from 2004 to 2019 in Italy there was a strong rise in e-commerce traffic. In fact, for online sales, the 2020 forecasts on the various products are almost all growing, except for some categories such as fashion and leisure which will remain stable, and unfortunately because of coronavirus, the tourism trend falls.

In fact, we can see a 54% decline in tourism, events, and luxury goods (for example Apple had several difficulties in shipments that not allowed them to sell their products). Instead, there is an increase of 21% for entertainment, food, and insurance (for example many people were at home, so many of them subscribed to Netflix to pass the time, which greatly increased the platform’s sales).

Due to Covid, many companies have had to close, so the social networks have helped and for this reason, their use has increased, Facebook is still in the lead followed by Instagram and Youtube, etc. Lately, there has been a use of social chats by various companies, which makes it possible to have greater contact with customers, for example for the resolution of problems. Social media are no longer just a showcase but have become an interactive place.

What is the basis of digital internalization? At the base of everything, there is the change. Change is positive but it usually scares entrepreneurs and it is seen as a stressful and tiring part.

According to the Talent Garden 2020 report, the causes that most block the entrepreneur from entering digital is the lack of skills (43%), followed by uncertainty about ROI (25%), management resistance (24%), etc. In Italy, there are many family-run companies and the resistance of the management decreases with the generational change because usually, the new generations are more open to digital.

An important point that should not be underestimated is the fact that the digitization process must be followed. In fact, we need to have a plan:

  1. Digital identity: it can be defined as a business card, it identifies the company and the product that are sold. Attention should be taken to the following questions: does the site represent me? Does it make you understand what I’m selling? Is it functional for what I need? Do I need e-commerce or just a showcase?
  2. Digital communication
  3. Digital Marketplace: sites where you can have the sales action such as Amazon, or through Facebook or Instagram. In some cases, it is better to rely on existing marketplaces than create your own.
  4. Lead generation strategy
  5. Assessment: an operation that is carried out at the company level generally by external consultants. The records of all the technological and communication assets are made, to understand if they are working well. So first we need to understand if we have the first four characteristics and if we have them, we need to see if they work well.

Then Claudia starts talking to us in particular about the UAE and defines Dubai as a real Smart City. In fact, according to some graphs in the Vusa UAE 2020 report, we can see how in the United Arab Emirates, e-commerce has increased in recent years. Unlike Italy, there is no exponential growth but more gradual due to the fact that there has been massive use of technology before too (the means by which more research is done in the UAE is the smartphone (95%)). In fact, if one wants to approach the emirate market it is important to do a work of digitization.

Another important aspect is to have the website both in English and Arabic and to study the market, understand the target to sell our products in the best possible way. For example, a truly happened case is about a fashion company that made an advertising campaign for its products with models that did not reflect the Arab standards and because of that the target of that clothes cannot image themselves with that style.

Q&A with Claudia Marino

  1. How important is it for an Italian company to invest in its site?

Very important, but it is not necessary to do complete digitization work immediately. In fact, it is not necessary to do only the site, only the social network, or only the app, the important thing is the thought that must be above everything, and assets are needed to materially develop this thought. For example, some important factors are the logo of a company which must be attractive and even the packaging can greatly affect the impression we give to the customer.

  1. Does a brand represented by a female entrepreneur can show itself directly in front of customers in the UAE?

We must not be confused with other countries such as Saudi Arabia where there are still many restrictions for women even if internally, we are trying to create greater openness. The United Arab Emirates are very similar to Italy, where men are often found in the most important positions, but it is not a problem to be a woman anyway.

  1. Which social networks do you recommend for mechanical companies?

It depends on the specific product, for example, we worked for the largest distributor of pipes in Saudi Arabia, we were thought that Facebook or LinkedIn could be useful for his needs, because his interest was to create an image of his company, as close as possible to the appearance of a large family. In Saudi Arabia, people are less inclined to move, so the fact of presenting themselves in that way has allowed the company to find new resources who are also willing to move.

  1.  Does  .it site indexed abroad?

No, they are not indexed abroad. They are mainly in Italy, unless you are looking for the exact site, in this case, for example the google .ue will connect to the Italian one and find you the page. Generally, it is recommended for trading abroad, to use the .com if the domain is free or in any case more international providers like .turism, etc.

Another important factor for a site is the hosting which we can define as the material place where we place our web page. When we choose a hosting we have to evaluate how we intend to use it, if we want to upload a lot of animations, videos, etc., in this case, it will be very heavy and if we put it on cheap non-performing hosting, even if we have the best designer and an excellent developer, the site probably won’t run. So, we need to evaluate our needs and move accordingly.

  1. Regarding the sale of food on e-commerce, how do you bypass the problem of food certification in the UAE?

For this specific topic, I refer to the UAE Chamber of Commerce. However, if you want to sell food and beverage products (excluding alcohol), I would focus more on looking for a distributor that has e-commerce, in order to include our products in his website. At this point, the distributor himself will do some advertising for us and I can also do promotional work in all the channels that may be interested, saying that it is possible to buy my products on that e-commerce.

 

 

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