man and woman in store looking at tablet


Best international markets for expanding ecommerce

By Johnathan Kapplow, SVP Consumer & Merchant Solutions, Pitney Bowes

Ecommerce merchants need to constantly focus on finding new markets if they want to stay relevant. Online retailers are everywhere but the ones with true staying power don’t rely on the same established customer base to keep revenue on the upswing. Allowing competitors to establish a presence among an unmet demographic could spell trouble for an online retailer. After all, very few ecommerce outfits can maintain the regular return traffic that giants like Target generate.

But there are several hazards that frequently befall ecommerce businesses who don’t do their due diligence before entering a new market. Strategy of course needs to be meticulously coursed out, but pinpointing where to expand requires more thought and consideration than many companies are able to research.

Where to Grow?

Looking at the big picture of online retail rather than specific industries, the two largest markets for ecommerce are - predictably, China and the United States. Even with today’s economic uncertainty, the average Chinese consumer is continuing to spend more online. In 2015 online retail sales in China rose 42.1 percent to $672.01 billion accounting for just over 40 percent of the worlds’ retail ecommerce sales. Looking back a few years, China’s ecommerce sales ballooned by roughly 35 percent between 2013 and 2014, which is at least double the growth of every other country in the top 10 for total ecommerce sales. The U.S. by comparison, had seen ecommerce grow by 15.7 percent over the period.

With more than 650 million users, China represents the world’s largest Internet-connected population. Language travels across borders and sites need to be modified based upon which country they are operated from. It doesn’t hurt to invest in regions wherein languages spoken by the largest swath of potential customers exist.

The most important part of a global ecommerce strategy is ensuring that there are actually buyers for a given product in a prospective market. You also have to ensure that products can actually be delivered and that transactions can be completed without unnecessary red tape. If there is a currency issue, for instance, and the revenue from a purchase can’t easily be exchanged or a foreign debit card isn’t compatible, the whole service is moot. At the same time, if a product literally can’t travel across a border, there is no point in wasting resources trying to appeal to that market.

Is your ecommerce business looking to enter a new international market? Get all of the details regarding prospective new clients through the Pitney Bowes 2016 Global Online Shopping Study, now available as a vital resource for successful global expansion. 

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