In the end, the global lesson is not all that different from those closer to home: Business-to-consumer e-businesses should ensure that they have the resources to build market share and brand awareness. Their online operations should use the Internet's features to create a unique value proposition and build relationships with suppliers and customers. If they can't, they should cut their losses and withdraw.
Yahoo gets a French lesson
Yahoo Inc.'s experiences across the pond give us another glimpse into the challenges of going global as an e-business. On Jan. 2, Yahoo announced a new monitoring program on its Auctions site (http://auctions.yahoo.com). It will charge a nominal listing fee for auction items and attempt to ban items associated with groups that promote hate and violence.
Yahoo's announcement comes in the wake of an ongoing lawsuit in France over the auctioning of Nazi memorabilia and criticism in the United States regarding Nazi-and Ku Klux Klan-related merchandise. Online auction sites cannot ignore such controversial activities because of the potential for negative publicity.
This issue will only get bigger, meaner, and more convoluted, and will affect more e-businesses as they expand worldwide and encounter cultural sensitivities. Some markets will even contain surprisingly negative reactions to content, products, and services from foreign e-businesses, which will be required to understand and address just to save face.