What are the key issue for retailers when it comes to international ecommerce?
Marks & Spencer is renewing its focus on overseas expansion in 2017. Also, John Lewis recently launched stores within stores in Amsterdam, Singapore and the Philippines.
For M&S, overseas expansion has been tougher than initially expected. International ecommerce it is not an easy thing.
The British retailer already has websites in nine markets including France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Profits have been suffering due to exchange rates in Europe as well as political issues in Russia and Ukraine.
In October of last year, M&S took its domestic website offline temporarily after a technical glitch revealed details of shoppers’ data publically following their launch of the ‘Sparks’ loyalty card. Also, Marks & Spencer experienced problems with delivery around the Christmas time.
An online-first strategy for entering new markets is tricky business and requires an in-depth knowledge of the specific country’s social and cultural economy as well as local infrastructure.
Key issues for retailers looking to crack international markets with a website-first approach:
- the language used on the website and the supporting marketing materials need to be nuanced to fit with local culture.
- react to local needs. In Africa only 15-20 percent of residents have bank accounts but 60-70 percent have mobile phones, so transactions are typically made with phone credits.
- plan logistics infrastructure. Shipping costs need to be clear from the outset.