The world is becoming smaller almost every day. Companies are regularly buying and selling goods all over the world—regardless of the company’s country of origin. In fact, the global ecommerce market at the end of 2022 was nearly $6 trillion and is expected to continue to grow over the next few years.
According to Statistica, online retail sales will reach $6.51 trillion by 2023, with ecommerce contributing up to 22.3% of the total.
What is Global Ecommerce?
In a nutshell, global ecommerce is the business of selling a product over the internet to buyers who live in foreign countries. In other words, if your business is in the United States, selling products to anywhere else in the world like Europe, Asia, South America, or even Canada, is would be considered Global Ecommerce. The same definition applies to any products you would purchase from other parts of the world.
It’s expected that North America and the Asia-Pacific regions will lead the rankings for retail ecommerce sales in the short term—with China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific accounting for over 60% of retail ecommerce sales worldwide. It’s expected that retail sales worldwide will grow from a little over $3 trillion in 2019 to over $7 trillion by the time 2025 roles around.
What You Need to Establish a Global Ecommerce Strategy
Creating a global ecommerce strategy is much like building any marketing strategy, so don’t be surprised if you will need some of the same information and will make some of the same decisions you would make marketing at home.
Establish benchmarks and set marketing goals. For example, maybe you want to increase traffic to your website from outside the United States (if your business is in the U.S.). Like any other goal, once you establish your broad goals, it’s time to dig into the details and get specific.
Identify the market you want to target. Is it the United Kingdom, maybe English-speaking countries in Europe? Once you’ve decided your target market, it will help you determine other factors about your target demographic and whether or not they will respond to your offers differently than your current markets. Don’t be surprised if you need to change tactics to accommodate cultural differences.
Determine what your competitors are doing. Good competitive research will help you put a strategy together based upon competitors (and your) strengths and weaknesses. What are they doing, or what have they done that has been successful or a flop? This will be a continuing process that will likely be ongoing. Learn as much as you can about them.
What are you going to charge for your product? With international exchange rates involved now, pricing might be different in your markets overseas. And, what your international customers are willing to pay for your product could also be different.
How to Create a Winning International Ecommerce Strategy
Once you’ve determined your target market and have figured out how to get your products there, there are a handful of things you need to do to build a winning international ecommerce strategy.
Think locally. Your website needs to speak to your new audience and probably shouldn’t be simply a word-for-word translation of your current site. You’ll want to work with experts who can help you translate your website into language that will not only be understandable, but speak to your audience in a way they will be able to relate to. Even if you’re marketing to England or Australia, you’ll need to consider localizing the language and not assume that “English is English.”
Make sure you understand how you’re going to provide customer support. Does that mean extended hours for people at home or will you hire people to provide support in the target market? Or, will you use automated customer support services? Additionally, you’ll want to figure out how you plan on handling returns, lost shipments, or address other logistical challenges.
What is your marketing strategy? Will you use the same approach as you do in your home market? Or, because you’re thinking locally, will you adjust your marketing to the new market(s).
Hire the right people. Finding the right talent is always a challenge, but this is particularly true when tackling international markets. It may require a more distributed (remote) workforce.
Global Ecommerce Trends
It’s expected that by the end of 2023 one in every five retail sale will be made online. What are some other global ecommerce trends expected this year? Shopify’s Michael Keenan shares six of them:
Global inflation pressures could continue: For most people around the world inflation has been a big factor for a lot of people this year. It’s likely to continue to be a trend globally for at least the near future.
Smartphones rule: A lot of ecommerce takes place through a mobile device right now. This is a trend that will continue as it becomes easier to use your smartphone or tablet to access the internet and make purchases.
New marketing channels are exploding: There have recently been a lot of advancements in several areas of advertising and marketing channels. Social commerce has been one channel that has really grown with social media like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok shopping.
Supply chain struggles: Supply chain disruptions don’t seem to be going away any time soon. It’s true, Covid-19 broke supply chains all over the world and compelled companies to try to build a better mousetrap, but it hasn’t been successful yet. Sometime in 2023 is probably the earliest we’ll see any progress in that direction.
Sales in China and APAC will continue to grow: Retail sales in the Asia-Pacific region are expected to be greater than anywhere else in the world in 2023.
Creating localized content for consumers: Consumers around the world say (to the tune of up to 41% of survey respondents) that they will not do business with a company that doesn’t have a website translated into their language. Localizing your ecommerce website is something that can either make or break your international business.
If you have products that could appeal to an international audience and you’re not pursuing an international strategy, maybe you should consider expanding your reach.