International expansion

The How, When and Where of expanding your eCommerce presence

In a digital age and a global market – boundaries (and addressable markets) must be viewed differently

By Tom Fischer, Sales Director at Tryzens

Globally, eCommerce is expected to reach $2.43 trillion in 2017, a total of 24.7% increase over 2016.  However, with slowing (albeit it still) ‘growth’ rates in Europe and the US, and with Brexit discussions ongoing, UK retailers need to capitalize on their opportunity to expand outside of the EU. Arguably there is no better time to extend your eCommerce business to new international markets, increasing your audience, and hedging your bets.  Sounds simple, and of course the devil is in the detail of the real-world operations that sit behind the web presence in terms of distribution, stock, language and currency, brand recognition and appeal.  In a modern digital age, consumerization is king, and retailers have the opportunity to leverage and exploit that phenomenon or to be held back by their infrastructure.

When you are planning for international expansion, there are many regulatory issues and consumer preferences to be taken into account. Each country has its own laws and so eCommerce websites need to target countries rather than languages. Consumers in different countries can prefer different brands, product styles and even sizes. As a consequence, the product range you need to stock can vary materially by territory. Consumers in different countries also prefer to use different payment methods and your online presence will need to reflect the appropriate payment methods as well as the currency for each market.

As a provider of global eCommerce solutions to our clients, Tryzens can help you to develop an overall strategy for each market based on adapting or building your own web site, using international payment service providers and/or incorporating eCommerce localization vendors who can adapt both delivery and payment methods to local markets.

 Target cultural differences with your eCommerce platform

There are also many softer issues between countries that are hard to get right without local market knowledge and experience. Online retail experiences, including images, offers and campaigns, need to be tailored to each territory. Consequently, the website elements and layout as well as the marketing campaigns are likely to change per territory but need to be easily administered and controlled.

Logistics & delivery

Logistics concerning stock levels, warehouse locations, delivery and fulfilment, customer service in time zones and returns all become naturally more complicated with global expansion and with relevant scale. One European warehouse (often located around the Poland/Germany borders) can support multiple population centres across Europe. However, next day delivery to the customer – an increasingly popular option as discussed here – more typically requires a warehouse in each country for speedy and most cost efficient fulfilment. Naturally the costs and logistics of fulfilment need to be tightly scrutinised in order to create viable and sustainable solutions and will evolve with scale.

It is natural for Brands to explore the idea of expanding into neighbouring markets first in order to achieve higher sales as the logistics seem easier. However, in order to maximise profits, businesses should also think further afield and embrace alternative high growth markets such as Asia Pacific and USA where British brands carry an often higher appeal.

 Mobile adaptive sites for APAC

Conquering the Asia Pacific market requires a large amount of focus on mobile adaptive sites. In South East Asia, over 50% of eCommerce transactions start on a mobile phone. These figures are even greater in Indonesia, where 83% of transactions come from a smart phone, similarly with Japan and China. In addition to mobile payment options and layout, localised products (and marketing content) need to be considered. Currently, quintessentially British products sell well in Japan and China – partly due to the heritage, but also due to the weak pound. Therefore, this could be a prime time for businesses to target those markets with British merchandise.

Targeting Australia

The Australian market continues to grow and compound growth is faster than the UK as the market is younger. Though it is small, it is also relatively cash rich, and the Australian customer shares many of the same desires and references as the UK or US consumer. The Australian market is happy to buy from international websites (those UK or US sites that support international customers). In fact, 75% of Australian shoppers made a purchase from an international site in 2016. By way of example, Tryzens works with the Australian fashion and lifestyle group Cotton On consulting, implementing and supporting services that enable its brands to increase their rate of innovation and feature releases, whilst enhancing quality and efficiency.  Tryzens are now building Cotton On’s next generation eCommerce platform on Salesforce Commerce Cloud whilst continuing to maximise performance on their current site.  In addition, Tryzens has recently started working with MJ Bale, the Sydney based, premium menswear brand, to optimise their eCommerce performance.  Working from Europe, Tryzens also built the new TM Lewin sites, including for Australia, where they have a growing market opportunity.

At this time of global markets and digital consumers, now is the time for businesses to identify a new range of markets where they can sell online, and build a strategic plan around these targeted territories.  With our international experience, Tryzens can advise eCommerce sites on their global expansion, and enable clients to plan, build, run and enhance their offering in new territories. Speak to us about creating a highly personalised shopping experience for your customers – wherever they are in the world!