When running a global business, how do you ensure that your organisation is capable of understanding and distinguishing the differences in worldwide shopping behaviours? When it comes to customer experience, global brands need to take a number of variables into account when communicating with consumers in a way that's both personalised and relevant, according to Paige O'Neill, chief marketing officer for SDL. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

Today it is not only crucial to recognise how consumer habits and preferences vary from country to country - it is necessary in order to stay ahead of competitors. For example, according to a global market study of shopping behaviour across 23 countries, shoppers in South Korea, China and Turkey are most likely to compare prices in-store on their mobile phones, with 59, 54 and 53% respectively in agreement to this statement. On the other hand, consumers in Ukraine, South Africa and India are least likely to partake in such a shopping behaviour, demonstrating only 11, 15 and 17% respectively. The UK falls somewhere in between, with 27% of shoppers using mobile devices while shopping inside a store. Without the fundamental knowledge of consumer shopping preferences, marketers will not know which methods will be most successful in targeting individual cultures and age groups.

Similar distinguished global shopping behaviours can be found in research by SDL. Forty four percent of UK millennial customers stated they would be willing to give more personal data to a brand they've purchased from before, versus 26 and 37% of Dutch and Australian millennial shoppers respectively. There is such a wide range of differentiating shopping habits worldwide and brands must be cognizant of cultural nuances that represent customer preferences. Organisations can accomplish this by localising customer experiences to better address the needs and wants of consumers.

Marketers see a multilingual world where language is not confined by borders. A recent study released by SDL found that 32% of millennial consumers in English speaking countries prefer a language other than English, and 46% are more likely to purchase if information is presented in their preferred language. In order to best resonate with shoppers, marketers must develop localisation strategies grounded in customer engagement preferences for the most prosperous customer experiences. Localised marketing and cultural awareness are especially important when it comes to reaching savvy online millennial shoppers. Seventy four percent of shoppers are more likely to purchase from the same brand again if the after-sales touch point is in their language of choice, as stated in a report by the Common Sense Advisory. In order for organisations to recognise cultural nuances of their global customers, brands must be capable of addressing translation at a local level. By peppering in this added layer of personalisation, consumers will feel more compelled to share content and become brand advocates in the language of their choosing. This furthers a marketer's competitive advantage in delivering a supremely global customer experience.

With an understanding that consumers are unique by location and language, brands must also take into account the age and gender they are targeting. To better personalise shopping experience, businesses should be prepared to tailor customer experiences so that a grandmother in Canada is marketed to differently than a 30-year-old unmarried male located in Southeast Asia. With the plethora of channels and devices available to the modern day shopper, it is clear that there are growing generational gaps in shopping preferences. SDL research has found that the baby boomer generation tends to prefer face-to-face meetings or calling into a helpline, whereas Gen X would rather contact brands through online chats via laptops and tablets. The millennial generation is much more hands on with their smartphones and will expect a seamless shopping experience from whatever device they are connected on. Preferences on digital social channels differ vastly according to which generation a brand is trying to reach in each country specifically, playing a large part in global shopping behaviours.

Technology will always be a factor that changes the way people shop, and consistency across all channels and devices is what matters most to consumers. Ninety percent of online shoppers expect a consistent experience across devices no matter where they are located, leading to the conclusion that a dependable customer experience will always remain a critical factor to building loyalty to brands. Marketers need to ensure that all channels are aligned. This can be accomplished by integrating online web experiences and mobile digital experiences as well as the physical, in store shopping experience.

Once context (language, channel, device) is understood and established with customers worldwide, brands can then focus on expanding relationships of their global customer base. Continue the conversation in the customers' language beyond pre-sale, purchase and support. Making a wide range of self-service assets accessible for customers in their language will keep them coming back and engaging with your brand. Five out of six millennials reported to SDL that they connect with brands over social networks, which is a great opportunity to continue to engage with loyal customers beyond the sale in a way that can expand your reach. When customers share information in their language of choice with their networks, it opens the door for you to expand your presence in cultural market segments.

"If your brand doesn't offer transparency and accessibility to a wide range of self-service assets, it's hard to expect that your customers will come back for more," concluded O'Neill. "With the right plan in place and proper tools to support a sound strategy, you can keep your brand top-of-mind by communicating with customers at a personalised, individual level, catering to local nuances that will instil an enhanced, unbeatable and universal shopping experience. At the end of the day, speaking the language of your customers pays off for the relationship and ultimately your bottom line."