The need to grow is essential to all retailers, but for SMEs it is particularly pressing. And with the UK market stagnating while we all work out just what Brexit we are (or aren’t) going to get, online retailers increasingly need to look away from these shores and to mainland Europe and, with Brexit again, further afield.
And just how imperative that is has been crystallised by a study by Rakuten Marketing, which finds that 53% of marketers globally see international expansion as a top priority for 2020. This outlines just how overseas is being seen as the key way to grow in the coming year.
While what sort of trade deal with end up with the EU is unclear, many retailers are looking at China and Asia Pacific, North America and even the Middle East and Africa as the key target markets for growth.
China is an obvious choice. There is already a hunger for UK goods in China and many Chinese tourists who visit the UK are avid shoppers. Tapping into this market is going to be key for many retailers, but knowing how to do it is crucial.
One way to approach it is to look at how to localise your website. Luxury retailer Amara, as we show, is a strong advocate of this, launching 10 localised websites across Europe to tap into local interest. The same has to apply to any region that you target. Language, currency, pricing and delivery are all ‘local issues, for local people’ and having a local website gives shoppers in each region the feel that they are shopping locally.
It is a small distinction, but an important one. If you appear to be local then you are likely to be better trusted and more likely to get the sale.
It also works well in countries such as China, where language and even writing are very different. It pays to talk to your potential customers in the actual and cultural lingua franca that they understand.
These retailers – which feature many well-known names, such as Brompton Bicycle, The British Museum Shop and the Great Little Trading Company, as well as foreign players such as Spanish department store El Corte Inglés to German travel company bücher.de, Australian website costumes.com.au and, from the US, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store – are at the forefront of growth and we are focussing on how they are going to get there.
Each week, we will be looking at the technological and strategic tactics being deployed by the 2000 companies on the Growth 2000 list, but also sharing with you how other retailers are doing what we consider to be interesting things – with demonstrable results – in the fields of mobile, social, marketing and logistics to win over new audiences and deliver the growth needed to create the next generation of retail.
Through a combination of trend analysis, case studies, thought-leadership pieces and interviews – as well as working with our sponsors Rakuten Marketing and Ingenico – we shall be look at what the issues are facing retailers trying to grow in the Brexit obsessed, technology fuelled retail environment, as well as how those challenges have been met.