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GUEST ANALYSIS Brexit could be a gift to international ecommerce – if we stop analysing, start acting

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It’s interesting to note that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest Brexit forecast marks a significant U-turn on previous gloomier predictions. In a recent statement, Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF’s economic counsellor indicates that contrary to initial forecasts, the UK is now set to be the fastest growing G7 economy. That said, and in what must be construed as a rather abject riposte, IMF boffins still feel that the UK economy will ‘eventually suffer’.

Followers of the art/science of economics (I am one, BA Economics, some time ago…) will recall that the IMF is one of many ‘expert’ bodies to drop the ball on a core remit ie accurate macroeconomic forecasting. Earlier this year, the ECB fumbled and fudged over likely Brexit outcomes, stating that the complexities made predictions… difficult. Good grief, no one said it would be easy!

Analytical approaches to economic circumstances are not always wrong, obviously. But it is worrying that globally renowned and expert economic organisations seem unable to provide reliable guidance for business decision makers, even as UK stock markets (unpredictably?) soared last week, with the FTSE 100 closing at its highest level since the record finish of 7,104 in April 2015.

Uncertainty from the experts will understandably be hindering our appetite for international business, and dire views are further compounded by some press coverage, for example (from the Guardian): “The polling of SME bosses showed only 5% had plans to start exporting in the next five years and more than two-fifths of those polled said Brexit would hinder their ability to export.” By my maths, that does leave three-fifths who disagree.

Let’s then assume that a mid-risk approach to tackling the broader post Brexit and low exchange rate opportunities would be to keep a weather eye on the big picture analysis, while simultaneously gathering some real and reliable data. The kind of data you make yourself, by pursuing quick and dirty market entry testing.

In practice, it’s never been easier to go live across any number of international territories, providing you subscribe to an ‘action is better than perfection’ approach. Let’s look at five basic steps:

Select your market/s

You have data on how people are arriving at your website and know what countries you are shipping to. Use that information to inform your choice of new markets to target.

Translating your website

OK, best practice is all about manually led and culturally aligned localisation. This is time consuming and costly, and is absolutely the right thing to do for key markets. But remember, we’re in agile mode, so why not focus on creating a paired down localised site that will still effectively test the market?


It’s important to ensure that local search engines understand your website’s target market. Most e-commerce and server platforms can support this, via the creation of sub-domains e.g. or sub folders e.g. The geo-targeting can be set up using website settings provided by Google, Bing, Baidu etc. This in turn ensures that your website pages have some chance of being found by organic (non-paid) searches for your products.

Using paid media, the quick and easy way – a basic paid media campaign can now be launched with relative ease and minimal risk. Google now provides Dynamic Search Ads which largely automate the process of ad campaign creation. It’s also entirely feasible to create shopping ads by ‘scraping’ your website, so no need for intervention or support from your in house web team. Both approaches are low risk, low cost, and can be launched with low bid caps, engineered to hoover up low cost conversions via long tail searches.

Gather data, as accurately as possible – final point; check that your analytics set up is fit for purpose. Location settings, currencies, conversion goals, roll –up reports must be considered. The sales data you harvest from your first stage campaigns will be invaluable, so do ensure that you are measuring the right stuff, as well as possible.

In a new world of economics, where the biggest brains on the planet can’t get the basics right, why not seize the moment and explore new markets, quickly, easily, with low risk. At worst, you’ll find out more than you know right now.

Matt Owen is CEO of Oban Digital

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