Author Archives: Kent Allen

Of the many barriers the the International E-commerce Expansion Benchmark Study highlighted, the one that requires the most urgent attention is the generally poor online experience that most international shoppers encounter, an ironic similarity to the early days of e-commerce in the U.S. the study points out.

Another key finding was that an expanded range of strategic options has replaced the “all or nothing” mindset that until recently prevailed among international strategists. Each option has its own different risk/reward profile and collectively, they provide online retailers and consumer brands greater strategic flexibility, which is critical in today’s challenging retail environment.

A “middle” stage of international e-commerce expansion is emerging, which the study calls the “Participatory” stage. Aided in part by the emergence of “sell-and-ship” solutions providers, this stage offers online retailers a low-cost, low-risk way to dramatically improve the international customer experience while also ramping up global sales.

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Two key themes emerged from this month’s Shop.org seminar, Going Global: Merchandising for an Overseas Customer: 1) make sure that differences in international consumer behavior drive international merchandising strategies and 2) ensure that a well- defined, yet flexible org structure facilitates the division of labor between corporate and local countries/market teams.

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Think Global. Act Local. Localization Easier Said Than Done.

When it comes to discussing their global e-commerce expansion plans, a lot of retailers talk about localization, localization, localization.
Given that many online retailers are still passively pursuing international opportunities, we’d like to draw from some of our initial international e-commerce research findings to offer one helpful way to think about localization. We’ll also share three insights about how to make sure localization initiatives are successful.

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One of the intriguing initial findings of the J.C. Williams Group/Shop.org international e-commerce study is that medium-sized retailers and mid market consumer brands are expanding into international markets ahead of larger retailers. We discussed this finding at the June Internet Retailer show with executives from a number of commerce platforms that primarily work with mid [...]

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Providing a total landed cost estimate is a very different from executing on that estimate. Today, control of the customs clearance process at the local level is poor at best. As the volume of international ecommerce shipping grows, online retailers that can tightly control the customs clearance process in their targeted global markets will emerge as the next engines of retail growth.

E-commerce sites and direct marketers that work with shipping/distribution partners that “own” direct channels into global markets will find that their landed costs drop dramatically, especially compared to what the major domestic carriers charge. Even when third party shipping partners receive volume discounts from these carriers, the landed costs charged by other shippers with proprietary distribution channels are still substantially lower.

On-the-ground relationships that smooth out the variances in the customs clearance process improve delivery times significantly and can dramatically lower costs.

Most importantly, by surpassing the expectations of the global consumer, the international e-commerce experience is vastly improved.

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