I WAS SURPRISED recently by a figure that says that less than a third of UK retailers are selling cross border into the EU. It seems that not a day passes at IR Towers without an announcement arriving to say that someone is expanding into France, Germany, Spain or outside the EU to Russia or China.
Shoppers in other countries are definitely interested in UK retailers since searches from overseas are on the increase, according to Google. Indeed, a number of countries demonstrated considerable rates of growth in searches for UK retail products with the Russian Federation leading the charge with a 54% growth rate. Further figures and the breakdown of mobile, tablet and desktop figures, along with UK search data, is included in the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor which features as this issue’s Dashboard section.
International is the focus of all of the features in this issue as we look at what is happening in different markets, how lessons can be learnt from best practise in other areas of the world and some of the operational and logistics issues of selling products overseas. Internet Retailing’s Research Editor, Liz Morrell, takes a look at EU legislation, the Directives coming into law and considers the difference across what could be a digital single market. As Robin Worthington, Ecommerce Director of Office says in the feature “Germany is particularly challenging because you are looking at free returns there but we don’t even offer that in the UK”.
Asia Pacific is set to overtake Western Europe as the second biggest online market in 2013 so we asked Daniel Latev, Head of Retailing at Euromonitor International, to share some insight into the ecommerce markets and the top retailers in the region.
Insight Around the World includes the regular column on ecommerce in France from Internet Retailing’s French Editor Isabelle Sallard, along with views on Australia, the Nordics and South Africa. But how large are the international markets for ‘Brand Britain’ and where do the opportunities exist? Online sales by British retailers overseas are predicted to increase seven-fold by 2020 as the share of online sales from abroad rises to 40% of retailers’ total online sales. Amongst the developing markets, China holds the biggest potential for international expansion online, according to AT Kearney, but infrastructure challenges still hinder realisation of the country’s full ecommerce potential.
However, while those countries with the fast-growing ecommerce markets may look attractive to UK retailers, they do not necessarily offer the easiest pickings. In the International Panel Discussion at October’s Internet Retailing Conference, the advice from the speakers was for retailers to define for themselves which markets or countries are best for them.
“It’s so dependent on the brand or product,” said Jan Mehmet, Global Digital Director, Jack Wills. “It’s about understanding your customers’ demographic and how much it’ll cost you to reach them.” While the UK leads m-commerce in many ways there are examples of how it is being put to use in other markets around the world that reflect not only the differences in local shopping habits, but can showcase how widely mobile can be used in the retail experience.
Simon Hathaway of Cheil and IR’s Mobile Editor Paul Skeldon’s articles offer some great examples. I for one look forward to virtual 3D stores appearing outside competitor supermarkets in the UK and flying Wi-Fi routers in shopping centres.
Talking of retail theatre and innovations, the Christmas spending season will soon be upon us with Monday 2 December predicted to be the busiest day in the run up to Christmas. That will kick-start two weeks of high sales in the run up to Christmas that will help take online sales in December to £10.8bn.
IMRG also forecasts average conversion rates will reach 5% during this final quarter, returning to levels last seen before the recession.
Happy Christmas trading to all.