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Making the case for international e-commerce: Five tips for going global

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E-commerce markets in South America, Europe and the United Kingdom can range from “emerging” in some areas to just as developed as the United States in others. Each has distinctive catalysts and factors that contribute to their stature in the global economy. But in the 21st century, all share one thing in common: Internet usage is growing. A 2012 report by the Boston Consulting Group projects the growth of Internet users in the G-20 countries, showing an increase of more than 1.1 billion new users in developing markets between 2005 and 2015, while developed markets will see a boost of 164 million. The time is ripe for retailers to branch their online presence beyond local borders. Leveraging the expertise of Econsultancy executives Stefan Tornquist and Andrew Warren-Paine,'s most recent webinar outlined lessons learned and provided case studies of top brands. After examining key economic and consumer factors, Tornquist and Warren-Paine outlined five things retailers should take to the drawing board before expanding services internationally.

    1. Localize your site. When crossing international borders, it’s essential to make your product categories personalized for local needs, habits and language. Research the unique classifications by country. In one scenario, U.S. automotive and industrial goods fall into the tools, car and do-it-yourself bucket in the in the UK, where home improvement is big. Communication vehicles – including social media, promotions, email and advertising copywriting – should be made local as well.
      • Get payment right. A 2012 Worldpay study found that 83 percent of consumers thought a range of payment options was important and another four in 10 said a bigger selection of payment choices would prompt them to spend more. That said, each country has nuanced policies when it comes to online, direct or mobile payments, so delve into all the specifics.
      1. Stay on top of delivery. A solid start? Make it clear you ship internationally. Messaging that prompts trust, easy-to-find calls to action and paid search listings will go a long way to eliminating chances of consumers second-guessing. Then make it clear on the path to purchase that your delivery costs are simple and low.
      1. Cross-sell other brands and products. A good method to keep delivery costs down and boost basket values is recommending purchases. Keep it sensible and simple by aligning sister brands.
        1. Don’t get left behind on mobile. Mobile has certainly made its mark on retail, but many international sites do not offer an international experience.

          With the continued evolution of digital retail, retailers across the globe are constantly planning for what’s next. This will be the topic of's next webinar on March 27, where we’ll feature REI Senior Vice President of Digital Retail and Direct Sales Brad Brown and Okamura Consulting’s James Okamura to examine the ways e-commerce has been – and will continue to be – a catalyst for change in retailer’s internal makeup. The two will elaborate on the results of's latest study, the Organizational Structure for the Future of Retail: The Digital Effect, and the ways international expansion fits in to a more digitally integrated enterprise.