While sophisticated software and Internet know-how provide a basic
infrastructure and successful e-commerce, according to several European
experts, is basically a marketing game — specifically, target marketing.
Speaking at the opening session of the E-Commerce Summit, at the Sheraton
Conference Center in Rome, Tom Schulte, director of business development for
Software AG, said that electronic business “is not a technology, it’s a marketplace.”
“Electronic business never sleeps. It is open
anywhere and anytime,” he added. “Many companies have started to change their business
processes to address the need of this new market, but only a few have
Peter Graf, director of corporate marketing at SAP AG, and Travis White, vice
president of marketing for J.D. Edwards EMEA expanded on the theme, calling for more targeted designs and greater site localization.
“It is important that companies selling over the net target
their markets and focus their web site designs accordingly,” said Graf.
White expanded the emphasis of target marketing, pointing out that European companies must focus not only on the English-language markets, but develop local language sites and pinpoint the needs of cultural markets.
Quoting figures from the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Tom Schulte said
that over the last four years, 80 percent of global Internet sites were in English, and that now there are approximately 195 million sites, of which 57.4 percent are in English.
This, according to Schulte, indicates the growing interest and need for
foreign-language Web sites. Of the total non-English URLs, the Japanese
language ranked second with 8.8 percent, followed by German (6.2), Chinese
(4.4), and Spanish (4.3).
“Only about 20 percent of the European population speak English,” said
Schulte. “The remaining percentage is a very large market for e-commerce