&Open Jul 03, 2019
Everyday at work, we plug into a communications network that seamlessly connects us to our global counterparts. While we can’t overcome time zones, tools like Zoom, Slack, and email help erase borders and distance. Today information flows instantaneously and Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat — a book which posited that technology would connect us globally and reshape our world — is beautifully manifested every day.
While information may flow instantaneously, physical things — like Amazon orders, foreign-made automobiles, and heartfelt gifts — must contend with the barriers of the outside world. There are borders to cross and customs to clear. Every logistical detail matters. When it comes to international gifts, then there’s culture to consider. Because of the nuances in every country, those cultural differences must be handled right — from the present itself to its presentation — or else the recipient could remember those missteps for a long time.
At &Open, we think a lot about bridging these divides when it comes to global gifting at scale. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for companies and their teams to show they care. Over the last two years, here’s what we’ve learned for showing thoughtfulness on a global scale.
First of all, global gifting isn’t new. Over the past 6,500 years, diplomats have gotten pretty good at it. They’ve figured out that good international gifting follows a few key guidelines:
- Choose gifts with a positive backstory (meaning, source it carefully)
- Give things that travel well
- Ensure it’s attuned to local sensitivities
- Determine it aligns with the recipient’s passions
- Don’t ever give the same thing twice
Even if you don’t have your own dedicated “Office of Protocol”, aka a government cabinet advising your every decision, anyone can apply these rules. But how to do that at scale for thousands of global customers and not one person, like the President of France in a diplomat’s case?
At &Open, we’ve determined a few things that work well for gifting at scale. We always advise companies to keep it simple, and consider the following:
- Integrate an easy platform: Have everyone on your global team work on a simple, intuitive platform that requires minimum training and integrates to your sales and support CRMs. That way, they can gift without distraction and attend to the main duties of their jobs.
- Plan for the complications of logistics: This foresight is required when sending gifts internationally. Remember that packaging needs to be aligned with customs requirements; things that break, go bad, or flout customs’ rules are absolute no-go’s; and you need to confirm the right delivery address (which we prefer to do by directly asking the receiver through our easy platform).
- Show cultural awareness in your catalog development: To scale this, we always suggest having a handful of evergreen items that hold universal appeal. On occasion, you can then mix up the assortment and select gifts that are tailored for local festivals or holidays to show you understand the region.
It sounds complicated, but it needn’t be. The reward for companies that plan thoughtfully is deeper global brand engagement, more confident decision making for local teams, and most importantly deeper connections with customers worldwide.
Tom Cockrell is &Open’s Revenue and Growth Director. With a long history in sales and marketing, he’s found that happiness is a life well-travelled and a network of deep, sincere connections to enrich it.