The global retail market will be worth almost $30 trillion by 2023 and has typically grown by 4.5% or more year on year for the past three consecutive years. Over the same period, over 1.8 billion people will enter the consuming class, buying products from businesses like yours.

This means, in short, that international eCommerce presents a larger opportunity than ever before, and at a time when buying and selling across borders as never been so accessible to businesses of any size.

Taking your retail brand global can be a solution to stagnating sales volumes, as well as an effective way to achieve even greater growth figures. Perhaps you’re already thinking about selling internationally, but don’t quite know where to begin.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we share our tried and tested 5-step formula, developed alongside Google’s International Growth experts, to help you on the road to world domination!

The 5 Steps to International eCommerce Success

Step 1: Find Your Global Market

Your first port of call should be to look at your data to see the countries that already have users visiting your website. The audience ‘Geo’ report will tell you which countries your website users and customers come from and the results might surprise you.

Our advice is to look at on-site behaviour first rather than the regions that deliver the most users, especially if your website is all in one language. A high number of users with low engagement might be the first signal as to whether you need to consider localizing your website.

Your next step should be to check what search-demand there is for your product in your chosen overseas markets. The easiest way to do this is by using Google Trends. You should look at which countries index the highest search volume for your product and look for competitor branded keywords to see who you’re up against in each market.

If you don’t plan on translating your website or landing pages your next action should be to speak with a Google International Growth Partner who’ll be able to tell you the language share of search queries in your chosen markets.

For example, while there are more monthly searches for ‘running shoes’ in Spain than in Italy, there is almost twice the number of English searches in Italy. You should not only factor in the demand for your product but also how much of the market you can service if your assets are only in one language.

Now that you have an idea which markets you’re likely to get a foothold in, you should consider your market entry…

Step 2: Plan Your Entry

Most advertisers’ first instinct is to duplicate what they are already doing in their domestic market. This is not necessarily the best or even a good idea.

You should plan your market entry around consumer motivations. If the consumers in the new market are not yet familiar with your brand or product, it may be less straight forward than duplicating your domestic campaigns. Your new market may need some educating about why they should buy from you - running upper-funnel campaigns alongside your acquisition campaigns might increase their motivation to buy.

Does your brand tell a story? If so, you should think about how your story relates to your product. One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is to treat their online video strategy the same way they would TV.

Telling a compelling story is important, but with the YouTube Shoppable Ad format, you can sell your products directly to those people who are viewing your video. Making your video product-led, with a strong call to action, is a great way to both make sales and introduce your brand to a market.

Once you’ve identified your market and have begun executing your entry plan, you should see your first six to eight weeks as an opportunity to test and learn. Don’t expect results that mirror your domestic performance immediately, and do expect to make changes to your website and customer journey to align with your new market.

Step 3: Payments & Logistics

The checkout is the point at which many international shoppers will abandon their purchases because either their preferred payment method or shipping method is not available.

For example, the second most popular online payment method in Germany is by bank transfer, with up to 45% of payments happening this way. How many advertisers located outside of the country will be aware of this and have this payment method set up?

Imagine how many millions in ad spend has been wasted by brands who’ve launched their products in a country and not considered the consumers’ preferred payment methods!

Over the past 5 years, Amazon has proved how key logistics are for eCommerce, and now 79% of US shoppers say that free shipping would make them more likely to buy online. Moreover, in the US over half of under 25s say that same-day shipping is their number one purchase driver.

A frictionless checkout journey with low-cost and fast shipping is now a minimum requirement for online consumers in many countries worldwide.

Step 4: Localise Your Assets

Localisation is your key to success when trying to integrate your brand with the incumbents in your overseas market. The top 25 websites in the world now support, on average, 54 languages, and if you want to compete with these big players you need to localise.

Localisation isn’t necessarily translation; it’s knowing your organization from your organisation or your crisps from your chips.

Speaking your customers’ language is key to telling your story, persuading and, most of all, building trust. Many brands find this difficult at first, but they almost always see success when their website and ads are tailored to each of their core international markets.

Alongside your paid media you’ll also want a strong international SEO strategy to maximise your presence in the new market.

Step 5: Optimise Your Site

By 2022 it’s expected that over half of online sales will be conducted on a mobile device. We’ve moved on from a mobile-friendly world to a mobile-first one where 70% of mobile searches lead to action within one hour!

What to know more? Don’t miss our 7 tips for optimising mobile eCommerce right here...

Generally, optimising your website through continuous testing and learning is a good idea, but even more so when advertising to a new global consumer. Analysing on-site user behaviour should be as key as measuring revenue and sales when you first launch in a new market.

Finding out how people navigate your site will help you get a deeper understanding of your new consumer and where there might be friction in the purchase journey. This will tell you where to start optimising.

Final Thoughts

While these 5 steps provide an excellent starting point for realising your international ambitions, it’s important to understand your unique situation and that strategies like this are rarely one-size-fits-all. Ultimately, your business model and the market(s) you choose for expansion will dictate the specific challenges you face and steps required to succeed.

If you’re still unsure about where to start or would benefit from some tailored advice about expanding internationally from a recognised Google International Growth Partner, you can always get in touch with us here...